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Cynthia Harvey Named Artistic Director of American Ballet Theater Scho


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Thanks, Frail Dove, that was well said. I'm still not sure about the primary training showing through. I must not have framed my question correctly. A graduate from the Vaganova Academy dancing Balanchine is going to look different from someone trained at SAB dancing Balanchine. Very few can absorb the style without the years of training. It may look beautiful, but it will not look the same. What I would like to know, is whether a dancer that makes the switch at age 13 will still show the elementary training of the original school in their movement signature, will it show like a foreign accent?... If a child moves to another country with a different language by a certain age and is immersed in learning a new language, they usually will speak it without a discernable accent whereas an adult will tend to have an accent even after being immersed for a longer period of time. I'm wondering if the elementary years of ballet training (in a reasonably good school) are not similar enough from school to school that the "finishing" years leave the main imprint?

Regarding the "having no business" teachers, I wonder up to what level they are ABT approved to teach? I'm curious how that works.

I thought the intent on reaching out to the recital school business was a sort of rescue line to the upcoming dancers enmeshed there. If students from those schools attend ABT summer intensives, is it likely they will not realize the difference when they return to the year round school?

It will be interesting to see where JKO is in another 10 years. Although the school is young, it is not as if the teachers thmselves are inexperienced. How far out into the affiliates that extends Is another story. Still, I imagine, that as a result of the ABT initiative, the cultural understanding of what good training entails will have reached farther and farther into the hinterlands, and more talented dancers will have a window of opportunity.

Has anyone studied what effect the Ford Foundation initiative had? Does it in anyway exist anymore, is there even the scholarship grant program or has that basically been taken up by other scholarships? Was there a sea change in the level of students coming through SAB after the initiative as opposed to before? Was there a corresponding sea change in NYCB?

Perhaps I should rephrase my assertion about schools associated with companies and say that schools associated with companies generally aim to produce dancers to suit that company. They may also be aware that they are educating an audience and community support for that company, but they are aiming for a professional standard in their best students. While there are some good teachers not associated with companies, many small schools isolated from a performing company are in a different business. This business can serve a community well, giving its children a chance to dance, to experience being on stage, etc., there are beneficial reasons to experience dance recreationally, but there are also a lot of small private schools which are in business for profit rather than in business to produce dancers. I do not believe JKO is one of these schools even if its funds help support a company that provides employment to is top graduating students.

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There was mention made of students moving from a local program into places like Harid, JKO, SAB, with only 1-2 classes per week. Is it really possible to get into these elite programs with so little background? I just can't believe that these places are "starting from scratch,". .

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It true. Good teaching can produce incredible dancers in a short period of time. It is not by any means ideal, but it is possible. 5-6 days a week, 4-6 hours a day, for 4 years, 10 months a year with 4-6 weeks of additional summer study. A lot of good teaching with very talented and dedicated students.

Natalia Makarova was in an excelerated program in Vaganova Academy. Her 1st year class began at age 12. She was graduated after 6 years of study instead of the usual 8 years.

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...and what confuses the "imprint" issue as well is that dancers themselves are not malleable clay: they have their own ideas about which stylistic elements (or which charismatic instructor) they wish to emulate. (My first two years of training were with a charismatic teacher in the RAD syllabus; despite working principally with SAB-style teachers ever since, Balanchine hands still look/feel indefinably "wrong" to me!)

The choice to focus on a specific style must be a deliberate decision on the part of the dancer. There was a great interview with Dorothee Gilbert a while ago about how she worked on acquiring POB placement.

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There was mention made of students moving from a local program into places like Harid, JKO, SAB, with only 1-2 classes per week. Is it really possible to get into these elite programs with so little background? I just can't believe that these places are "starting from scratch,". .

But can someone get into Harid, SAB, JKO coming from a program in which they are taking 1-2 classes per week?

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Funny that you would mention this. .. I was at a YAGP regional recently and talking to a school director who has produced a few winners. . .And this person made a point of saying that a big competition win gets you into an audition and captures the eye of an AD but will NOT get you a job. You have to get in class and you have to have the technique to back up your performance. . . . It's almost as if a big competition win incites both attention and a bit of caution from ADs and if you look really closely at some of the more recently celebrated "winners" you will actually notice that many are not going to the most high paying, big companies.

Interesting observation and comments as I have often wondered what happens after these competitions, and mainly why I never recommended my granddaughter to pursue. I just feel there is so much pressure on these young children already in school, let's hope I did the right thing! I have read some of the bios on ABT site and seems that even if you don't win in the YAGP, with talent you can get a nice contract as in the case of Waski who seems to have joined at a very young age? :

<http://abt.org/dancers/detail.asp?Dancer_ID=276>

At age 12, Waski placed in the top twelve at the 2008 Youth American Grand Prix, junior division in Philadelphia.

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<http://abt.org/dancers/detail.asp?Dancer_ID=276>

At age 12, Waski placed in the top twelve at the 2008 Youth American Grand Prix, junior division in Philadelphia.

It's funny -- I just skimmed through the 2008 Philly semifinals winners (this is what happens before school starts...) -- among the competitors in addition to Paulina are Taylor Stanley, "Emmy" Kikta, Beckanne Smith, and Catherine Hurlin.

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This is a very interesting discussion to me as, here in the UK, the Royal Ballet School faces much criticism for "creaming off" the top talent from other schools, particularly (for UK students) at 16, which is a natural break in the UK academic system as students finish their GCSE exams. It can actually be very difficult for the students from RBS' lower school in white lodge to get into the upper school since they take the really exceptional students from schools like Elmhurst and Tring in addition to Lausanne, YAGP winners and other auditionees from all over the world.

One thing I have noticed over the years is that those students who come from other UK schools into RBS at 16 tend to do very well. I have speculated over as to whether it might be something to do with being part of such a high level cohort that makes everyone raise their level. My experience of their teaching is that while there are and have been some excellent teachers at RBS, they are not universally better than those at other schools. However, their expectations of the class are rightly very high and, if managed carefully (perilously difficult with adolescents) healthy competition can spur students on. I have seen it go very wrong too though, with students who would be considered very promising elsewhere treated as "fodder" at the back of the class and largely ignored.

But the "halo" effect of name schools when applying for jobs should not be overlooked. I don't think it's down to an instant gratification culture as someone suggested up thread - a dancer's career is short and it is totally legitimate for good dancers to seek to be paid for their work as soon as they can!

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I suppose the reason I don't expect ABT to hire mainly dancers who have spent their lives at JKO is because I don't assume that all of the best dancers live near NYC. The best dancers have something inside them that I think goes beyond their training. Should an amazing dancer in Kansas not have a shot at dancing with ABT because her parents couldn't relocate to New York when she was 8? I think a better measure of JKO's program would be how many graduates are getting contracts anywhere. 

 

On a different note, it looks like JKO is changing up their curriculum a bit for next year. Level 3, the highest Children's Level, has added more classes to the weekly schedule and the Pre-Professional Level is now just divided into Upper Level 1 and Upper Level 2.

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