From Russia To Michigan
The Midwest isn’t usually the first place you’d look for old-world technique. But for the past three Augusts, Michigan’s Russian Ballet Festival has brought in dancers from the Kirov and Bolshoi Ballets, as well as Russian principals who currently dance in American companies, to train intermediate to professional-level students. “The Russian artists teach in a very detailed way,” says founder Sergey Raysevskiy. “Every gesture means something, every nuance is important.” Not only do students train with the Russian dancers, they also perform alongside them in a final gala.
The intensive is intimate, with 20 dancers in each of the three levels. The advanced dancers begin each day with a Vaganova technique class followed by pointe, variations, pas de deux or character and then two to four hours of rehearsal for the gala performance. Sixteen-year-old Maria Beck attended the festival in 2010, and is now a first-year student at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow. “The festival prepared me physically and mentally for the academy,” she says. “It was tough, but I learned so much about artistry, and Russian head and arm positions.” This year’s program runs August 15–27. For more, see russianclassicalballet.com
Watch & Learn
As a presenter of many of today’s top dance companies, New York City’s Joyce Theater has earned a reputation as a go-to destination for exciting performances. In 2009, the theater began giving dancers in the audience an extra perk: master classes with the companies onstage. And now, with the opening of the Joyce’s new DANY (Dance Art New York) Studios, they’re amping up their class offerings. Over the past year, directors and choreographers from Lyon Opéra Ballet, Complexions, Cedar Lake and Richmond Ballet have offered classes to coincide with their Joyce performances. “It’s a unique opportunity for New York dancers to work with artists who aren’t usually in the area or don’t regularly offer classes,” says Joanne Robinson Hill, director of education. Students get a taste of the company’s style—and an extraordinary chance to network with directors who may be on the lookout for new dancers. Check out the list of upcoming artists offering class at joyce.org/studios/masterclasses.
New NYC Training Program
Want to polish off your technique under the eyes of a watchful coach? You might check out Sara Knight’s new S.L.K. Ballet in New York City. Knight opened her school last September to offer advanced dancers ages 15 to 18 intense, personalized attention during their last years before joining a company.
The first British dancer to graduate from the Vaganova Ballet Academy, Knight gives a daily two-hour group technique class that follows a traditional Vaganova model: a set barre and center that change periodically, with special emphasis on the positions of the arms and head. Classes are kept at 10 to 15 students to ensure that each receives detailed, specialized corrections. Most of the focus, however, is on coaching students privately in technique, pointe or variations. Knight works with dancers one-on-one, often preparing them for competitions like Prix de Lausanne or Youth America Grand Prix. She also arranges opportunities for them to perform with regional companies.
Eighteen-year-old Emily Kadow, a former student of Knight’s who joins the corps of Ballet du Capitole in Toulouse, France, in September, can attest to Knight’s coaching abilities. “Sara spent the time and focused on my biggest weaknesses, which for me were jumps,” says Kadow. “She really helped me by making sure my heels were down in plié, and her Paris Opéra–based floor barre helped strengthen all my muscles.”
Prospective students are invited to take class with Knight as an audition. S.L.K. Ballet also offers a four-week summer intensive. For more, visit slkballet.com.
Prix de Lausanne Tours The World
In celebration of its 40th anniversary, Prix de Lausanne is launching a worldwide master class series. Former prizewinners who are current principal dancers have been recruited to teach aspiring local dancers in Tokyo, Sydney, Cape Town, Amsterdam and other cities. Each class ends with an info session for participants to learn more about
the prestigious ballet competition. On August 7, Wim Vanlessen, a principal from the Royal Ballet of Flanders, will be leading two classes in New York City. Any preprofessional dancer aged 14 to 18 is welcome to attend for a $25 fee. Class size is limited, so register early at prixdelausanne.org.