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.

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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."

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Teachers Trending
Carolyn DiLoreto, courtesy USC Kaufman

Tiffany Bong has spent her career stepping into unexpected territory and making magic—a skill that's made all the difference in the face of COVID-19. As an 18-year-old freshman at Santa Clara University, she took her very first dance class, which set her on a path contrary to the expectations of her traditional Chinese household. "I was told I could either become a doctor or a lawyer," the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance hip-hop teacher says. "I didn't see myself in either of those, so I majored in psychology and dance without my parents knowing."

Upon graduation, Bong joined the Bay Area branch of the international hip-hop company Culture Shock. One year later, she moved to Los Angeles with $1,000 in her bank account, a car and no game plan. "I dove into classes at EDGE and Millennium, making up for lost training," she says. "But my real training came from dancing at the clubs all night long." Soon, she was progressing enough to join (and eventually win) battles.

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Mattie Love with Dance Impressions students in Farmington, Utah. Photo courtesy of Love

Tara Larsen was seated at her desk, working from home à la the pandemic, when a notification for an Instagram Live from her old dance studio popped up on her phone. Having moved to Bellevue, Washington, to work at Microsoft, it had been years since she had taken class at The Pointe Academy in Highland, Utah. It was the perfect opportunity to both see old friends and get up and move—two things the coronavirus has severely impacted. She hopped on.

"It was so fun to do battements and leaps across the floor, even if my neighbors below might not have loved it," Larsen says. "I got to comment on the killer combo, and hear the instructor (who actually used to dance on my team) talk to me through the screen and say she missed me."

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Teachers Trending
Jason Hill, courtesy Disenhof

On March 13, Katherine Disenhof and her NW Dance Project peers were shocked to learn that their company was shutting down for (an optimistic) two weeks, which soon became an indefinite furlough.

Shortly after walking away from the studio, Disenhof noticed virtual dance classes beginning to pop up on her social-media feed. "I realized this pandemic is a shared, global experience," Disenhof says. "I saw dance as a unifying force that would keep people together."

That's when inspiration struck to bring virtual dance resources to one central place, and Dancing Alone Together was born. The initiative includes a website that curates virtual-class postings from around the world (about 30 per day) that users can search by time or genre. The site also offers dancemaking prompts and opportunities to watch performances online. The best classes of the day are posted on the Dancing Alone Together Instagram, which has 36,700 followers and counting.

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To Share With Students
Photo by Samantha Clink. Courtesy of BODYTRAFFIC

Tiare Keeno successfully straddles the worlds of concert and commercial dance. She began her training at one of the country's premier competition studios, Center Stage Performing Arts Studio in Orem, Utah, before eventually transitioning to a top-notch classical conservatory, Classical Ballet Academy. All the while, she kept a close relationship with the razzle-dazzle of conventions, attending many each year before joining Nevada Ballet Theatre in 2012. "I've always said I wanted to stay open and try new things," Keeno says. After graduating from The Juilliard School in 2016, she moved to Macau, China, to work on the creation of a new Cirque du Soleil show, and performed in Al Blackstone's Freddie Falls in Love at The Joyce Theater in 2019, before landing her current position with BODYTRAFFIC for the 2019–20 season.

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Trending
Cosentino and her students pose for a photo after a performance in New York City. Photo by Kyla Dodd, courtesy of Cosentino
Joelle Cosentino is on a mission to shake up dance education with an alternative model for pre-professional training. Because she turned her competition dance background into a star-studded career (she's worked with Beyoncé, Mick Jagger and Lenny Kravitz), you might think her teaching goals would include a quest for rhinestones and first-place trophies. But by the time she became a teacher, Cosentino had become disillusioned with competition dance. "It had become so expensive," she says. "Parents were getting sucked into endless routines and unreasonable hours." She believed there was a better way, and to that end she created Z Artists Group—a New York City–based collective for pre-professional training with an emphasis on performance and advocacy.
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