His Style

Incorporating History into Dance Education

Posted by on 06.25.2015

One of the great things about summer layoff, is that I have the wonderful opportunity to teach and coach the next generation of dancers.  Yesterday I sat down with my students and asked them if they had done the homework I had assigned to them on Monday.  A few hands shot up in the air with excitement.  “OK,” I told them, “Let’s talk about George Balanchine.” We started with his birth in 1904 in St. Petersburg, Russia and his death in New York in 1983 at age 79.  I asked them why they thought I had them research George Balanchine. That elicited some quick responses: “Because you want us to understand his style,” and “You wanted us to look up...

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The Dancers’ Artistry: How We Are Evolving

Posted by on 05.11.2014

I recently came across a very thought provoking article in Dance Magazine about the delicate balance between artistry and emphasizing the execution of  ballet steps with technical proficiency.  This is a big topic of conversation these days as reality television brings dance into our homes more than ever before.  On shows like “So You Think You Can Dance,” we see remarkable tricks: daunting jumps, lifts, turns, etc.  It always amazes me what the audience chooses to react to on these shows: they clap and scream for a simple press lift, while seemingly missing the talent and artistry behind the fast footwork that follows.  In an effort to please an...

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Timeless Pieces of Art.

Posted by on 09.12.2011

The Mona Lisa sits in the Louvre in Paris and attracts over 6 million visitors a year.  The famously mysterious painting was created by Leonardo di Vinci circa 1503–1519.  The Mona Lisa, along with the 35,000 other works of art housed within the Louvre’s walls, are undeniably timeless. But would you limit the “timeless pieces of art” category to only paintings and sculptures?  What about ballets?  Full-length classical ballets are still appreciated in the 21st century though they are obviously dated.  Yet other choreography seems to be able to stand the test of time more effectively.  Specifically, what is it about Balanchine ballets that allow...

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Questions with Bart IV

Posted by on 08.10.2011

Questions with Bart returns for another round! These questions were sent to me by a great lover of ballet who often comes to Miami City Ballet performances. He has a wonderful appreciation for what we do, and has a great understanding of the ballets we perform. Here is his fourth question: The issue of speed: essential to Balanchine, but not everyone’s natural gift. How do you work on it? Does it ever come naturally? This is a subset of the issue of adagio-v-allegro. Most dancers I know are more comfortable with, and capable of greater artistry in one or the other. How does one compensate?   This question comes at a perfect time: after our successful...

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Publicizing Ballet.

Posted by on 04.15.2011

As I was reading Suzanne Farrell’s book, “Holding On to The Air”, an interesting passage caught my attention.  Ms. Farrell talks about the publicity that a new Balanchine ballet would generate.  She says that Balanchine did not like to give the press backstage information, as he believed that it ruined the magic of the stage; the details of the dancer’s lives should not be laid out for the public to see.  He wanted the audience to see the dancers as elusive people they could only know through dance. Publicity and press has changed a great deal since Balanchine’s time.  Now we have the internet, social media, and blogs where we can...

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