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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Photo credits, clockwise from bottom left: Peter Mueller, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet; Jayme Thornton; Jochen Viehoff, Courtesy Stephanie Troyak; Karolina Kuras, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada; Natasha Razina, Courtesy State Academic Mariinsky Theatre; Kim Kenney, Courtesy Atlanta Ballet; Jim Lafferty; Arian Molina Soca, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet; Altin Kaftira, Courtesy Dutch National Ballet; Scott Shaw, Courtesy Shamar Wayne Watt

Every year we love to see Dance Magazine's coveted list of the dancers, choreographers and companies that are on the verge of skyrocketing in the field of dance. This year's picks are nothing short of exceptional.

Congratulations to these 25 up-and-coming artists!

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Jennie Somogyi teaching student Anna Jacobs. Photo by Love and Luck Photo, courtesy of Somogyi

When Jennie Somogyi retired from New York City Ballet, she found herself in high demand as a teacher. Parents called, texted and persisted. "I don't even know how some of them got my contact information," she says with a laugh. But Somogyi, who departed from NYCB in 2015 after a 22-year career, hadn't made any definitive plans for the next stage of her life. "I just like to see how things move me," she says. She discovered, though, that she enjoyed the process of giving private lessons and seeing the rapid progress students could make. Over time, she realized that teaching was something she wanted rather than needed.

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Just two years after being appointed director of the School of Pennsylvania Ballet, former PAB principal Arantxa Ochoa (DT, November 2012) has stepped down and relocated to Miami. Last month she began her new position as Miami City Ballet School director of faculty and curriculum.

Ochoa’s departure comes on the heels of some significant changes at PAB. As of the end of last season, more than 40 percent of the company’s dancers have left the company, either by choice or because their contracts weren’t renewed.

Born in Valladolid, Spain, Ochoa joined PAB in 1996, was promoted to principal in 2001 and retired in 2012. She served as a principal instructor at the School of Pennsylvania Ballet for two years before being appointed director.

Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, courtesy of Miami City Ballet

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Arantxa Ochoa with students at the School of Pennsylvania Ballet

After retiring from Pennsylvania Ballet as a principal dancer in 2012, Arantxa Ochoa became principal instructor at the newly reopened School of Pennsylvania Ballet (full story in DT November 2012). This fall, she takes over as director.

The promotion comes from Pennsylvania Ballet’s new artistic director, former American Ballet Theatre principal Ángel Corella. He stepped into his new role last month, following longtime director Roy Kaiser’s resignation.

Corella is making some major changes at the company, namely hiring relatively young dancers to the staff (which meant letting go of some established employees). Julia Diana—who retired last spring as a principal dancer with the company—and her husband Zachary Hench—still a principal, for now—will take over as ballet mistress and master. “We have to look into the future and try to do things a bit more edgy,” Corella told KYW Newsradio, “things that will attract new audiences.”

Photo by Matthew Murphy for Dance Teacher

Big news from the newly reopened School of Pennsylvania Ballet: The first student has just been hired from the training program! Level 6 dancer Marjorie Feiring will join PAB II for the 2013–2014 season.

In November, DT featured the school and newly instated principal instructor Arantxa Ochoa on our cover. Clearly, the institution has hit the ground running. Click to read more about the changes at PAB and how students benefit from having a recent company principal in the role of lead faculty member.

 Photo by Matthew Murphy

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