Former NYCB principal Kyra Nicholas. Photo by David Gray
"What's next?" is a question every professional ballet dancer must face as their performing careers come to a close. For former New York City Ballet principals Kyra Nichols and Philip Neal, the answer was teaching.
"I've never really thought about this as a big transition. I was teaching often during my performing career," says Nichols, who's now a professor of ballet and the Violette Verdy and Kathy Ziliak Anderson chair at Indiana University.
"As a dancer I always knew my performing career wasn't going to last forever—though I was fortunate to dance for a long time. Teaching was the most obvious next step for me. My mother (Sally Streets, a former NYCB dancer and founder of the Berkeley Ballet Theater) is a great ballet teacher, and I guess I picked up some of her skills over the years."
Hiring guest teachers to come to your studio can offer more than just new choreography for competitions. They can bring a fresh perspective to your students' education, and they'll expose them to exciting new styles and teaching methods.
"I've told my students to keep their shoulders down countless times," says Shannon Crites, owner of Shannon Crites School of Dance in Ardmore, OK. "Then, a guest teacher will come in and say, 'You should really release those shoulders,' and they finally do it!"
Ballet Sun Valley Artistic Director Isabella Boylston and choreographer Gemma Bond. Photo by Dean Shitagi for Ballerina Project.
Ballet stars are coming to Sun Valley, Idaho—the hometown of American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who will serve as artistic director of the new Ballet Sun Valley festival, August 22–24.
Kathryn Morgan teaches RAFA students. Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy of Morgan
Kathryn Morgan's inspiring, unconventional journey in ballet is entering a new chapter as she becomes the main ballet teacher of the Trainee Program at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas. Morgan, 27, was a New York City Ballet soloist until an autoimmune illness in 2012 forced her to refocus her love of ballet in different directions. She has since carved a new path for herself with a YouTube channel, online teaching, private coaching, an advice column in Dance Spirit magazine and other dance-related projects.
For training, AB2 members will have their own classes and will regularly join Atlanta Ballet's company classes. Photos by Kim Kenney, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet
This month, the curtain will rise on the first season of Atlanta Ballet 2—the second company of Atlanta Ballet.
Growing out of Atlanta Ballet's former Fellowship Division, AB2 is designed for advanced students ages 17–21, who are transitioning from student life to professional life. The company will also serve as a route to joining Atlanta Ballet.