The Royal Ballet's Edward Watson: What My Teacher Taught Me

A story about a young man who suddenly wakes up to find himself transformed into a giant insect doesn't sound like it would easily translate to ballet. But when choreographer Arthur Pita approached Royal Ballet principal Edward Watson about starring in a ballet version of Franz Kafka's novella The Metamorphosis, Watson immediately agreed. It was his former ballet teacher Patricia Linton at The Royal Ballet's Lower School, who first introduced him to Kafka's famous book.

"Patricia gave me the book when I was 18 and told me to read it--she said it was a really important piece of literature. She may have been my ballet teacher, but she was insistent that her students know about literature, paintings and music. She inspired me to go see plays and concerts and read books to enrich myself as a dancer. I remember her saying this story would make an amazing ballet one day. Every time I do this show, I think of her."

Watson is dancing The Metamorphosis at The Joyce Theater in New York City through September 29. www.joyce.org

Photo by Tristam Kenton/ROH

Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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Teaching Tips
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After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy TUPAC

When legendary Black ballet dancer Kabby Mitchell III died unexpectedly in 2017, two months before opening his Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center, his friend and business partner Klair Ethridge wasn't sure she had what it took to carry his legacy. Ethridge had been working with Mitchell to co-found TUPAC and planned to serve as its executive director, but she had never envisioned being the face of the school.

Now, Ethridge is heading into her fourth year of leading TUPAC, which she has grown from a fledgling program in an unheated building to a serious ballet school in its own sprung-floor studios, reaching hundreds of students across the Tacoma, Washington, area. The nonprofit has become a case study for what it looks like to carry out the vision of a founder who never had the chance to see his school open—and to take an unapologetically mission-driven approach.

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