Teaching Tips
Valerie Amiss with students. Photo by Tracie Van Auken, courtesy of Pennsylvania Ballet

Jared Nelson, artistic director of California Ballet, demonstrates a tight fifth position as he talks to his class about the importance of rotating from the hips. "Having a visual image helped me as a dancer, so I try to demonstrate as much as possible," he says. "But I am also very conscious of word choice. Every dancer is different, and you have to phrase things in a language they will understand."

Teachers should always be aware of how they communicate with their students, including how they choose language for different individuals, classes or situations. Using the right terminology in early stages of training will ensure that students learn the proper names of steps. This foundation is crucial, particularly when so much of the classical vocabulary has been substituted by nicknames and phrases. (Think "lame duck" or "step-up turn" in place of piqué en dehors.) But good use of language also means using imagery and positive reinforcement to ensure the right kind of messaging. What teachers say in the studio could make the difference between dancers who listen—and ones who really hear.

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Stella Abrera in Alexei Ratmansky's The Seasons. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of ABT

Yesterday, Kaatsbaan, the Tivoli, NY–based cultural park for dance, announced that Stella Abrera will join the organization as its new artistic director, effective January 1, 2020. This news come just weeks after we learned that Abrera will be taking her final bow with American Ballet Theatre in June.

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