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Miami City Ballet School: changes in the offing?

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A story by Jordan Levin in the Herald on changes at the company's school.

A new director, Darleen Callaghan, former head of the dance school at the North Carolina Dance Theater, came on in March. She has been joined by Pardina, a former understudy of Rudolf Nureyev brought in to beef up the men’s division and run a new student dance company. They are tasked with expanding and intensifying the training at the school, in part to prepare potential dancers for the different repertory that Lopez is planning.

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The new director, Doreen Callaghan and her boss Lourdes Lopez seem committed to expanding the School's curriculum.

Lopez says she aims to broaden the school's range, emulating New York City Ballet's famed School of American Ballet. .... "[sAB] trained you to dance absolutely everything," she says. "So I want to put in place teachers who will create a fully rounded dancer."

The article also introduces Olivier Pardina, who will be working with the advanced and pre-professional students and is charged with developing a student company (great idea!!!). Pardina taught for many years at the Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, one of the country's preeminent pre-professional schools for classical ballet.

One thing continues to puzzle me, however. Most people nowadays agree that young pre-professionals need to be trained for "absolutely everything" (or near to it) if they hope to compete in the current job market for dancers. The problem is how to do it without watering down the classical (and in MCB's case, the Balanchine version of classical). There's only so much time in the day and in the curriculum..

I don't know much about ballet schools, but I've always assumed that Villella's approach to ballet training was an essential ingredient in the success of MCB itself -- including the school's homegrown stars like the Delgados, the Estys, and the best of the Brazilian transfer students. On top of that, the Villella system certainly seemed compatible with MCB's ability to dance (and dance welll) a repertoire that, if not "fully-rounded," included multiple works by choreographers as diverse Robbins, Taylor, Tharp, and other non-Balanchine choreographers. This is not "absolutely everything," but it was a good start in that direction.

So ... are we dealing with a new philosophy of ballet education here? A shift in emphasis? A matter of degree? Something more nuanced?

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