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Great Dancers Teaching

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A while back I brought up a discussion on great dancers teaching. Another, Susan Jaffe ,will soon be teaching in her own school in NJ. One can find fine dancers often teaching in a summer intensive setting (time allows from their busy schedules), but not very many take the route of Edward Villella. Isn't it a shame?They have such a wealth of knowledge to pass on.

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Guest BalletFlaMom

Ms. Jaffe also guest taught at my daughter's studio this season. The students all loved her, it was a wonderful and CHALLENGING class - there were bodies draped all over the lounge afterwards!


As an afterthought; I will say however, not all "great" dancers make for "great" teachers.

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Guest grace

while many former dancers - including famous ones - DO teach, it is comparatively unusual for them to open their own schools, i think...more often, they teach company class, master classes, or guest classes. opening a school is a big business challenge, quite unrelated to the experience of most performers. it will be interesting to see if she makes a success of it.


in australia, christine walsh, former AB principal, has managed to found and maintain a very successful school in melbourne, together with her husband. i think it's called Australian Conservatoire of Ballet.

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PK, I think that there are quite a number of great dancers teaching. Maybe my experience is just not the norm? :D


In regard to Edward Villela do you mean this topic to be more in the light of great dancers who started their own ballet companies?


And I agree that it's a wonderful opportunity for great dancers to share their wealth!:)

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BW, I cannot think of terribly many ??It can be started their own Companies or not.

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Guest grace

PK - i'm wondering if your neck of the woods is some sort of exception, since in my own experience, i would almost go so far as to say that MOST great dancers, and not-so-great dancers, go on to teach (sometimes regrettably, for their students!! ;) ) but certainly i DO think that few found their own schools or companies...


of course, i cannot really speak much of the american experience, so perhaps my observation doesn't apply so much to the USA...

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PK, there are many too many big names in ballet teaching. Name a name, they are probably teaching, coaching, ballet mastering or directing somewhere. Maybe you need to narrow this very broad statement down a bit? There are so many out there teaching it is hard to know where to begin.:)

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It seems to me that teaching is a natural progression for someone who retires from performing and wants to remain in dance. Teach, choreograph, or start a company. I mean no disrespect to teachers, but the teaching route seems to me by far the easiest of the three.


Having said that, my experience is that individuals who are “great” rarely make great teachers or coaches. Quite often, perhaps most often, those who are great teachers or coaches are individuals who had to struggle, people who sought to be the best, but couldn’t quite get there. This all makes sense to me anyway.


I think many assume that people are great because they possess knowledge that other’s don’t. That is the fatal error. People tend to be great because the love what they do, work hard, and most importantly have natural talent. They do something and it just seems to happen like magic. They have no idea why. That is the talent. Those who wind up being exceptional teachers have the love, the willingness to work, but not the same level of talent that the so-called great person has. Their desire causes them to compensate by learning more, analyzing, experimenting, all the activities that provide the knowledge base from which good teaching can spring. That knowledge base and the ability to relate with students makes for an individual that certainly has the potential to be an excellent teacher.


Of course there are exceptions. And celebrity brings one opportunities that others do not have.

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Guest novamom

PK, If I understand what you are looking for I share the same curiosity. I have often wondered where some of the great dancers have gone? To what endeavors have their lives taken them? It is wonderful if some of them have become great teachers as with Farrell, and Villella, but it is also good to know what has become of those whose teaching careers are less well known for whatever reason. Isn't anyone out there interested in passing on some interesting information to those of us who may be less "in the know"?

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As vrs says, there are indeed fine teachers who had dance careers teaching (BW's list),so perhaps I am thinking more in the line of Suzanne Farrell who made her own program and Company. Who has retired (lately?)and has a passion and dream to teach?

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Guest grace

BW - that is your list of 'great' WHAT? please...


great dancers, or great teachers, or great dancers who have become teachers, or dancers who have become great teachers? ;)


novamom and others: if you name the 'great dancers' who you are curious about, i'm sure that many people here will have information about what they have gone on to do. :rolleyes:

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This may help with my initial thought-how about those who have had a great career dancing-to narrow it down. I just had the pleasure of accompaning Ms.Jaffe's class. She is indeed inspiring!

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Guest isabella

Regarding BW's listing Valentina Kozlova as one of the greats--I would absolutely agree.

And she is one of those generous, intelligent, inspiring spirits who DOES love teaching.

Moreover, she IS about to open her own school, the Dance Conservatory of New York, in Manhattan. It is under construction at this very moment. I know many children and young adults who are thrilled by this. THe school will be linked to her pre-professional company, THe Dance Conservatory Performance Project, that has already staged some of her work in SUNY-Purchase.

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Guest SMSCouture

BW...I will take every opportunity I can to say what a wonderful "hands on" teacher Barbara Sandonato is.

Do you know where Lourdes Lopez is now?

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