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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Ballet Master Alan Howard


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I studied ballet in the 60's in downtown San Francisco at a studio called The Academy of Ballet. The owner/teacher was a former member of The Ballet Russe . His name was Alan Howard. Someone told me they had seen his obituary in Dance Magazine a couple of years ago.When I moved to Europe in 1972, I think he was still in SF but later I heard he was in Europe but nobody here seems to know anything about him.

I'm just curious because I enjoyed the years I spent in his school and company (Pacific Ballet) and learned a lot about ballet and life in general.

Does anyone know about his career history?

Edited by miyamura
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Hi...Alan Howard was one of the most important teachers of my youth. I absolutely adored him... He trained Kyra Nichols before she left the bay area for NYCB. I danced with his Pacific Ballet from age 19 to 21 (1970-1972) before I rejoined SFB. He was the most wonderful, demanding teacher. Class was never under 2 hours...minimum 4 petite allegros! He (as you know, but for everyone else) was a principal dancer with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. I've always thought of him as the Bujones of his day...brilliant technique; clean long elegant line. After teaching in Europe (Germany and France) he came back to the U.S. and was living in New York for a number of years before his final illness. He returned to his hometown of Chicago where he passed away in the spring of 2003. He participated in the huge Ballet Russe reunion which took place a few years back. He had a remarkable dance collection which, I believe, has been donated to the library in Chicago. My friend who visited him in New York said that all his kitchen cabinets were filled with his collection instead of his dishes! I attended his memorial service in San Francisco at the Academy of Ballet where we all gathered to remember and honor a most remarkable dancer, artist, and person.

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Gina,Thank you for all your information.I guess we didn't coincide because I moved to Europe in 1970.I was the youngest student in his advanced class for a year or two and I got to do Clara in his Nut. I really enjoyed ballet in his school even though I never planned to dance professionally.He sure did have beautiful line. I'm so happy to know he died in old age and had people remember hin at the memorial.

On one of my visits to SF to visit my parents, I saw a People's magazine with pictures of all the artists from the Bay Area that had died of Aids.It was incredible how many little pictures were on the several pages dedicated to the subject!One of them, sadly,was a Portuguese dancer that was in the company when I was there (Antonio)-I don't remember his last name. Since I lost contact with the ballet world completely, I had almost expected to see Mr.Howard's picture and was so relieved that I didn't.My sister and I always talk about our good times we shared at the Academy.

Thank you so much.

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Hi miyamura...The Academy was and still IS a wonderful studio. Richard Gibson and Zory Karah are the directors now, and I send my students to them in the summer. The dancer you spoke of is Antonio Mendez. I danced with him sometimes. We danced Marc Wilde's "Afternoon of a Faun" together. After dancing with Pacific Ballet, he went on to become the director of Redwood Empire Ballet in the north bay. Thank you for remembering Alan and Antonio, and letting the forum know about their significant contributions...

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Wow! I remember when Antonio first came to the studio - he could hardly speak English. I also remember he had an incredible body for ballet.He was a really nice guy and treated me as his equal despite being older and a more advanced dancer.I'm so happy to hear that he too, had a successful career.

Thank you again.I don't want to turn this into a chat and get in trouble. :) When I'm allowed to PM , I'd like to ask you about another dancer I knew from back then.

Edited by miyamura
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  • 3 years later...
  • 1 year later...
I too remember Antonio well and am sad to report that he passed away from AIDS back in the early '90's.

Great teacher.

Good memories up in the studio with his stick pounding out the counts.

Perfection; he taught you what to demand of yourself. Nothing less.

His lines were perfect!

I remember the summer were hot and the studio would get so hot you felt faint but dared not to.

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, giancarlo & MTAllen!!!

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  • 11 years later...

OK—I'm 15 years late to this thread, but in case anybody looks at it again... I stumbled on this by accident looking for information about Alan Howard, whom I studied with in the early seventies. A late comer to Ballet (was 21 or so when I began) I never got very far, but have fond memories of those days. I remember being in class with Gina Ness, Antonio Mendez, Les Boday, and Kyra Nichols, among others who went on to great careers. Kyra was no more than 13 or 14  at the time, but was already clearly on her way to becoming a star. I have a story to tell about her from a Pacific Ballet perfomance around that time. 

I believe the performance was at the SF Opera House. As one of Alan's students I worked backstage ...I don't remember the ballet, but her mother, Sally Streets was in the same piece and lost a contact lens on stage. A little later in the same ballet, Kyra was performing and in the course of executing a deep arabesque penché (supported) she spotted the contact on the floor right in front of her. She was able to lick her finger, pick it up on her fingertip before coming back up, and pop it into her mouth, with such grace and aplomb that no one in the audience was the wiser. She finished her variation beautifully, lens in mouth, and triumphantly presented it to her mom when she came offstage. The assurance and grace which she demonstrated at such a young age was really astonishing!

 

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Hello David E, welcome to BT4D!  What an amazing story and thank you for sharing it!

Please feel free to head over to the welcome forum to let us know a little about yourself and get involved with some topics :) 

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