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Importance of the Coach

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I read an article on the retirement of Jennifer Gelfand (see link under Boston Ballet thread), and found it interesting that she gave David Howard much of the credit for her training.

I know David Howard also contributed to the training of Gelsey Kirkland, and worked with Katherine Healy (dancer and also profiled in "A Young Skater") from a young age.

It seems that this training was provided in addition to, and outside of, the training received at the student's school or company.

Has this kind of training gone out of vogue? If so, is it because no great coaches are around to provide it? Or...??

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Private coaching is still being done. I know young 10 year old SAB girls up through company members of NYCB who recieve extra coaching. "Regular" people (like me :) get get private lessons as well. I'm sure teachers would leap at the chance to coach a dancer of soloist or principal level. It's a big boon to thier teaching career to say that they helped so-and-so.

David Howard is still teaching and coaching in New York. And there are many wonderful teachers still around. I'm not knowledgable enough to say whether or not private coaching has gone out of fashion compared to twenty years ago, but it seems to be fairly prevalent.

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I know in our small ballet company here in the south the lack of coaching during the season has been a gripe of some of the dancers. For the most part the steps are given and then they are left on their own to watch videos and squeeze out private rehearsal time for themselves apart from the company rehearsals ...these are dancers with lead roles often in classic ballets like Giselle and Swan Lake! The only coaching I was ever aware of was when a teacher/dancer entered a ballet competition or when a promising student wanted to suppliment their classes. I too wonder if this is the norm for a company, I'd hate to think it is. I thought this would be part of the job of a ballet mistress/AD to help with coaching these often difficult principal roles?

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I keep wondering who and when YESTERDAY'S David Howard was. I once went to an event where an awful lot of my friends were present (this is ca. 1980) and when I asked, what's going on with you to most of them, they said, "I'm teaching for David Howard." Seemed like everybody but me was "teaching for David Howard"!

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