Teachers’ Tools: Up Close With Liz Martineau

Martineau trains students to excel in competition.

Teachers share the philosophies and materials that make them successful in their careers and classes.

It would be hard to find someone more suited to her job directing a competition team than Liz Martineau. She recently retired from her own performing career—with Odyssey Dance Theatre—and dancers at Creative Arts Academy in Bountiful, Utah, consider her a friend as much as a mentor. (Students often visit her at home to talk through problems or baby-sit her two young children.) She follows the popular dance scene, inviting a roster of guest artists that includes Adrian Lee, Lauren Adams, Chelsea Thedinga and Chantel Aguirre. Plus, she has an appetite to win. Her students go up against some of the country’s top studios at competitions and conventions that visit Salt Lake City. They travel for Nationals like The Dance Awards in Las Vegas.

While she trains students to excel in competition, she also keeps her eye on how to best prepare them for the working world. “Sometimes competition dancers are just clean,” she says. “I want them to be artistic. We try hard to make our pieces out-of-the-box.”

But her job is to coach the dancers in work set by guest choreographers, so while Martineau encourages dancers’ artistry, she must also maintain the dancemaker’s original vision. Recently, while polishing a routine by Jason Parsons, she had dancers watch a video of one of her favorite companies—Nederlands Dans Theater—for inspiration. “We look at movement quality, where they’re focusing their eyes, the lifts, where their hands are, how they are getting out of lifts,” she says. “Then we do the same thing with the choreography [we’re working on]. We go really slowly saying, ‘How can we make this artistic and keep it Jason-ified?’” DT

Favorite classwear: Martineau likes dancewear that is stylish and comfortable.

Hobby outside the studio: “Golf with my husband. I love that it challenges me in a different way.”

Essential gadget: Martineau uses her iPad to film dancers in class and rehearsal and to show students inspirational videos of professional companies in action.

Must-read: Wooden: A Coach’s Life, biography of college basketball coach John Wooden. Martineau says it inspired her approach to teaching and shaped the way she motivates dancers.

Always on hand: Tiger Balm for muscle soreness

Photo (top) courtesy of Liz Martineau; Thinkstock (2)

Don't miss a single issue of Dance Teacher.

Teachers Trending
Evelyn Cisneros-Legate. Photo by Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West

Evelyn Cisneros-Legate is bringing her hard-earned expertise to Ballet West. The former San Francisco Ballet star is taking over all four campuses of The Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy as the school's new director.

Cisneros-Legate, whose mother put her in ballet classes in an attempt to help her overcome her shyness, trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and School of American Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet as a full company member in 1977. She danced with the company for 23 years, breaking barriers as the first Mexican American to become a principal dancer in the U.S., and has graced the cover of Dance Magazine no fewer than three times.

As an educator, Cisneros-Legate has served as ballet coordinator at San Francisco Ballet, principal of Boston Ballet School's North Shore Studio and artistic director of after-school programming at the National Dance Institute (NDI). Dance Teacher spoke with her about her new position, her plans for the academy and leading in the time of COVID-19.

Keep reading... Show less
News
The author with Maurice Hines. Photo by Anthony R. Phillips, courtesy Hopkins

In March, prior to sheltering in place due to the coronavirus outbreak, my husband and I traveled from New York City to Miami to screen our award-winning documentary, Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back, at the Miami Film Festival.

Our star, Tony Award–nominated dancer and choreographer Maurice Hines joined us in Miami for the festival—stepping and repeating on the opening night red carpet, sharing anecdotes from his illustrious seven-decade career with local tap students, and holding court at a cocktail mixer with lively female fans.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Haruko Photography, courtesy ABT

Gabe Stone Shayer may be American Ballet Theatre's newest soloist, but he never dreamed he'd be dancing with the company at all. Though he grew up in Philadelphia, his sights were always set on international ventures—especially The Bolshoi Ballet and The Royal Ballet.

Even in his early training, he was learning from Russian educators: Alexander Boitsov at Gwendolyn Bye Dance Center, and Alexei and Natalia Cherov, from the Koresh School of Dance. At age 13, he transferred to The Rock School for Dance Education, where he danced until his acceptance to The Bolshoi Ballet Academy at age 14. At 16, Shayer returned to spend his summer in the States and attended ABT's summer intensive—fully intent on going back to Bolshoi to continue his training in the fall. Four weeks in, he was offered a studio-company contract. "I was so surprised," Shayer says. "Having come of age in Russia, I was very Eurocentric. Of course ABT was on my radar, I just never imagined it was for me."

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.