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Leigh Witchel

The care and feeding of talent?

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Imagine that you are a wise teacher or artistic director.

That wonderful moment that happens once a generation happens to you. One of your children in class at age 13 has got it. You look at him or her and you see a young Dowell or Nureyev, Fonteyn, Makarova, Kent, Farrell . . .whoever. You see the potential for a major career.

Here are the questions - if you've been in a situation like this (lucky you!) how could you tell? Then for all of us, what would you do?

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Been there, done that, Leigh ;) Several times, actually.

How could I tell? Well, I'll talk about two of them. One came at 11 and and the other at 12 years old. One with excellent early training, the other not so excellent. But, it was just there. You could see it immediately when you started working with them. The "dance intelligence" maybe, along with the musicality, the body, and the desire. While everyone else struggles to comprehend and then to execute whatever it is you are teaching, they just do it. Not perfectly of course, but so exceptionally well for their age and level, that it is very evident. When you show line, they make line. When you show movement, they MOVE. When you put on the music and they dance, you are looking at a dancer in miniature. You can just see where this is going. It's the combination of exceptional facility, intelligence, musicality, potential artistry, and total commitment and every once in a very great while it just walks in the door. (We have a few right now at WSB, actually.)

What did I do? I trained them! :D And they became dancers and had lovely careers and now have retired and one has a baby and the other one is pregnant. And I'm a "grandmother" :) :) :eek:

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In addition to being trained byt some one like Victoria, I would try to expose them to other intellectual and artistic pursuits. Great painting, theatre, music, contemporary dance and literature. Especially when they are teen agers and pop culture has such a pervasive influence.

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