Summer Teaching Diaries: Performance Quality in the Classroom

Posted by on 06.24.2016

It’s summer time, which usually means sun, pool, beaches, and the like. But for ballet students, it’s time to get into the studio without the pesky distraction of academic school. Summer Intensives are wonderful opportunities for dancers to focus on their training: often their best work over an entire year is accomplished in the summer. For professional dancers, often summer is our off-season. So again you would imagine sun, sand, and surf, but instead we find ourselves drawn to the studio, but in a different role. This week I started my summer teaching position, which has been enriching my career and view of the art form over the past few years. I find that these...

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Five Summer Intensive Must-Haves

Posted by on 06.06.2016

I am sure that many of you spend your whole year looking forward to Summer Intensives: the auditions, the excitement, the new friends. But have you started your packing list? Here are Five Must-Haves that you won’t want to leave home without: __________________________________________________ 1. Notebook Though cell-phones these days can accommodate our random thoughts at any moment, you should still consider brining a good old-fashioned note pad with you to your SI. You are about to embark on a journey that is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and you want to make sure that you get the most out of it. Information is about to be thrown at you left and right, and it is...

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Summer Intensives: Auditioning and Choosing the Right Program For You

Posted by on 01.08.2016

Ask any professional dancer about their training and you will find that many of their fondest memories are drawn from summer intensives. For five or six glorious weeks you get to visit a new place, dance all day, and make new life long friends. You experience new teachers, new styles, and new choreography. You find yourself away from the comfort of your home studio and get a taste of a whole different side to the dance world that you may not have known existed. But more importantly you begin to see what the world of professional ballet looks like, and it leaves you wanting more. Why are Summer Intensives so important to ballet training? For most ballet students,...

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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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Summer Teaching Diaries: Progressing Ballet Technique

Posted by on 08.27.2014

As a part of my research for my summer teaching over these last few months, I came across “Progressing Ballet Technique,” an innovating training program for classically trained ballet dancers.  Through my experience with my students, I observed a lot of weaknesses that I felt could be solved through pilates or other strength training techniques.  I knew that they needed some strengthening exercises added into their training to help with the elements of their technique that were lacking. Marie Walton-Mahon, a ballet educator for 39 years, decided to change the way her students approached their exercises.  Through her programs entitled “Progressing...

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Summer Teaching Diaries: Challenges of Being a Ballet Teacher

Posted by on 08.11.2014

There are so few teaching opportunities out there at any given time, and even less for teachers who are young and not yet established.  Becoming a ballet teacher is a natural and common career transition for dancers as their careers come to a close.  Yet, so few dancers are able to really get a taste for teaching leading up to the inevitable transition.  So having the opportunity to start giving class as a current dancer, is a rare one. I learned long ago that just because you are, or used, to be a good dancer, does not make you a good teacher.  Please do not misunderstand, I am by no means calling myself a good dancer or a good teacher for that matter. I am just...

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