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Joanne Chapman cultivates excellence and a familial atmosphere at her Canadian studio. Photo by Don Boskovic/Exposé Studios, courtesy of Chapman

Four incredible educators: Joanne Chapman, Claudio Muñoz, Pamela VanGilder and Kathleen Isaac foster their students' love of dance, whether instilling artistry, offering rigorous training or giving special needs students an outlet through movement.

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Walsh in Manon with Amy Fote

Before entering the ranks of Houston Ballet, principal Connor Walsh trained for three years with Houston Ballet academy instructor Claudio Muñoz. In his partnering class, Walsh learned to prioritize emotional connection.

“His combinations in partnering class were like choreographic workshops. We were challenged to express and interact with our partners right away. It was difficult and sometimes embarrassing, but to get used to that at a young age was so important. Rather than, ‘This is how you put her on her leg,’ it was instantly choreographic and emotionally driven. Then you had to figure out how to get your partner on her leg.”

Connor Walsh dances the role of Des Grieux in Houston Ballet’s Manon on Saturday, September 19, 7:30 pm, at the Wortham Theater Center.

Photo by Amitava Sarkar, courtesy of Houston Ballet

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