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Sarah Lamb: Madame Legat

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From today's sorry story about Sarah Lamb leaving Boston Ballet for the Royal:

And it's clear that last year's dismissal of teacher and coach Tatiana Legat from the company's artistic staff, also reportedly for budget reasons, still rankles Lamb.

  ``I keep wanting her to have a role in my life here, but it's not going to happen,'' Lamb said. ``She's not going to be brought back in to work with the company or school. My artistry as it stands has all blossomed from her. I don't think the Boston Ballet School is able to offer that any more. It's unfortunate when I see young children who should be able to have what I had but aren't being offered it.''

This article underlines the essential relationship teachers and coaches have with professional dancers and that "blossoming" which can only happen under the watchful eye of the gardener-mentor.

In fact, I think that this relationship is the least talked about, but the most important for those aspiring to the soloist and principal levels.

Where has Madame Legat alighted?

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I have no information to add, just read the article in the Boston Herald, and very bummed about it. Sarah Lamb was one of the dancers that I was just starting to get a real feel for. I happened to see her quite often, and was starting to recognize certain qualities of movement that were "hers."

At the end of the article she mentions money being "an elephant that's always in the room." That's one aspect of the eternal money question that I haven't seen discussed here. How terrible for the dancers to be worried about company funds.

I guess lots of people all over the country worry about how the company that employs them is doing financially, but it seems all wrong.

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From another angle, the students of the Boston Ballet School (including my DD) are soooo disappointed about losing Lamb because they identify with someone who came before them AT THE SAME SCHOOL. Since my daughter started at BB School years ago she always idolized Jennifer Gelfand, another home-grown BB ballerina. When Jennifer left at the beginning of this season, my daughter became a huge fan of Sarah Lamb. Will someone else now replace them in my daughter's young heart? :unsure:

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I think it is amazing that Ms. Lamb is going to the RB--it is an experience that so few Americans have had. Fans of the BB will miss their hometown dancer--but it really is a natural progression.

As for Madame Legat: she is teaching at a summer program in Brookline MA in August with several other former BBS teachers.

It is my opinion that Ms Lamb's relationship with Madame Legat was exceptionally unique.

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Yes, Mme. Hermine, that's true. But what is quite unusual is for that relationship to continue through a dancer's years as a principal in the school's company.

I am probably responding so strongly to this story because we have kept our daughter with the same teacher for 8 years in the face of very difficult conditions.

Can anyone think of other dancers who went from first ballet lesson on flat at age 7 to Principal at 21, all under the watchful eye of one teacher? In the same school/company? I think there are some SAB/NYCB possibilities. Patricia Barker at PNB? And of course, this is not unusual in the great Russian Tradition. Perhaps also in the other European Companies, especially POB and the Royal. As Mr. B said: First a school.

A question nags at me: did Boston Ballet make a typical bottom-line bean counter's mistake and save a little money but lose something of far greater value when it dismissed Mme Legat?

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And of course, this is not unusual in the great Russian Tradition.

In the past thirty or more years in St. Petersburg, Russia it is highly unusual for a teacher to stay with a class for all 8-10 years of study. The teachers who are well known in the West are the teachers who may have worked with the students their last 3-5 years of study. (Generally 3 years, but there are cases such as L. Kovalova with her daughter's and Vishneva class of 2000, who worked for 5 years.) Many students in Russia are even fortunate enough to work with the same teachers and coaches in the companies as they had in school.

The mentoring system in teaching is not encouraged in the US unfortunately. It is rarely that students are able to develop that relationship with a teacher. Sarah Lamb was indeed lucky to have had this experience.

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Ms Lamb is an exceptional talent and Madame Legat nurtured that above and beyond the classroom experience--and into her professional career. I think it was an inspiring relationship, but I do think it was unique. Perhaps Madame's strength is as a coach and mentor--and if that is the case perhaps $ was an issue. It is too bad that schools cannot afford to support a mentoring tradition.

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Also BBS seemed to make a conscious decision to move away from Russian training--so one cannot forget to factor that into the decision to release Madame Leagt. I would argue that excellent teaching is excellent teaching--although I KNOW talented students who did not jibe with her style. Of course not every teacher is right for every student--even the talented ones.

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