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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Have any of you had teachers with a 'past'?


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I mean a particular dancing past!! :)

 

My first teacher told me (through a haze of cigarette smoke) that she danced with Pavlova, which at the time I didn't believe at all, but having recently done some research on her, it turns out to be true! Makes me feel very old indeed! lol

 

Have you found out anything interesting, dance-wise, about your teachers?

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At the time I was at ABT summer session, I had a teacher named Leon Danielian. He used to get on me for various things. I remember a girl coming up to me after one particularly difficult (for me, emotionally, due to corrections) class saying she was jealous I had so much attention.

 

I had no idea how famous he was, although when my dance teachers back home found out, they were impressed. Years, and I mean YEARS later, I happened upon a google about him. He had danced with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo! It was only then I realized how lucky I had been to have such a famous teacher! :-)

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Well, my husband's aunt is pretty well known in our country for contemporary performing and teaching :)

 

 

And Merry - she danced with Pavlova? Wow.

And Serendipity - the Ballet Russe!

What a privilege to have been taught by them!

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And Merry - she danced with Pavlova? Wow.

 

She also said she had been a member of Diaghilev's company, but I have yet to source anything about that yet. It has been a difficult task to find out anything, but I'm a historian in my other life so it is something that is of interest to me. I also had to realise 'Madame' was at least 10 years younger than she liked to say she was, which put me right off the scent for a while!

 

 

Serendipity, I have to admit I've not heard of Leon Danielian, so am going to do some reading!

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I just realized how little I know about my teachers! I guess the one with "the most impressive past" is the one trained at The Royal Ballet. She became a dancer for the National Ballet Company of Portugal when she was really young, danced many major parts and finally ended up as a dancer for the Finnish National Ballet. In Portugal she got to work with Sylvie Guillem, Manuel Legris and Patricia Neary.

 

I started my ballet lessons with an old Russian teacher, I have always wondered about her past but haven't been able to find anything. Maybe she has always been "only" a teacher but who knows... I like to think she was an amazing prima ballerina before she moved to Finland and became a teacher.

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Pretty much all my teachers had illustrius pasts in the ballet world. Probably the most famous ones were the ones I had when I was at the Royal Ballet School - I was taught by Pamela May and Julia Farron (both former ballerinas in the Royal Ballet company) and had Maria Fay for both character and classical.

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My "favourite" teacher had a professional career with two large dance companies in France & Germany, and he also just happened to mention in class once that he used to be able to regularly knock out pirouettes with 14 turns, on both sides, when he was in his prime. Well, it certainly impressed me! :lol: Another teacher was formerly a Soloist with English National Ballet.

 

That's as illustrious as I've come across so far; I believe all my teachers have danced professionally at some point in the past but I haven't yet been taught by any "big names".

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Lots of interesting replies! Thanks...

 

 

I started my ballet lessons with an old Russian teacher, I have always wondered about her past but haven't been able to find anything.

 

How Russian was she? :lol:

 

My first teacher used a Russian name, but we knew that was a pseudonym, though her real name was a very closely guarded secret! However, I recently saw a 1946 school brochure for a small boarding school in the UK where my teacher was offering lessons (using the Russian name). She was described as an East European refugee, which, had I read that at the time I would have presumed meant she was born in East Europe, but I know she was born in London! Having said that, I suppose if she was travelling with a ballet company in Europe during WW2 then she could have been a refugee in that she 'escaped' back to England. I did my research through the Victoria and Albert museum in London and a lucky break with the Dancing Times magazine.

 

My second teacher had been a soloist at Sadlers Wells. This always reminds me of Whoopi Goldberg's line from Sister Act 2 "I am not, nor have I ever been, a Las Vegas showgirl. I am a headliner!" lol

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he used to be able to regularly knock out pirouettes with 14 turns, on both sides, when he was in his prime.

 

Good heavens!! I missed that bit the first time I read your post. Makes my wobbly doubles sound pretty pathetic, but then...........I'm not in my prime!!! lololol

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I had a lot of teachers with a past. One was an ex-soloist in Stuttgart, another one with the Royal Opera and oh well I made classes with Nancy Lushington (I just love her!). Currently I take classes with two dancer who are still active and they are also soloists in a big and famous company (one danced together in a perfromance with Bolle).

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My teacher was a principal dancer with the Teatro Colon in Argentina for some 12 odd years, and has won prizes in various international ballet competitions. She's a little vain so it's great fun (and very easy) to get her to talk about her past. :(

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My ballet and jazz teachers as a teen had met on while performing in West Side Story (national tour) . I don't remember her specific ballet background, just the story that she left ballet for the theater after an injury. She felt that some of her physical ailments were from starting pointe too soon, so she was very particular about allowing students to begin. I was one of the youngest in my beginner pointe class at 12. It was frustrating to me at the time because the other school in town started girls at 9.

 

But, my most interesting teacher with a past has been one of my all time favorites, Susan Jaffe. I had the pleasure of taking her adult floor barre and ballet class for a little over a year. I wish I had brought a recorder to those classes. The stories that she would tell... everything from her early days as a student in MD and NYC, great teachers she had, fellow dancers, etc. I think she needs to write another book someday!

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MelissaGA -- hmmm, Susan! Awesome! I know someone who danced with her as students and now is an amazing teacher too!

 

I've been lucky... I had a teacher who went through U of U back in the day and was chosen by Amboise to join NYCB. She and her husband danced with Cincinnati later.... teachers in college more known in the Modern/Contemporary world... in England a former soloist with the Royal Ballet Companies (RB and SWRB) who was amazing.... and in open classes in London with a current ENB dancer and former ENB dancer.... Back here, teacher mentioned above... another one who has danced with several major regional companies... and toured with Nureyev in Europe! The stories!

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Almost all my teachers have had some sort of past since most of my teachers graduated from Moscow Choreographic (Bolshoi). One of the most awesome experiences I had was when I ended up meeting and working with the former director of La Scala Ballet (Milan), and he remembered working with one of my previous teachers! He spoke about him like a child, saying, "Ah yes. I remember that young boy - blonde Russian boy, right? Fedotov. He was wonderful, Nureyev spoke very highly of him."

 

I remembered choking on my coffee at that statement, despite knowing that most of my teachers had very illustrious backgrounds. For some reason, I'm still star struck.

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I remembered choking on my coffee at that statement, despite knowing that most of my teachers had very illustrious backgrounds. For some reason, I'm still star struck.

 

I think it's because we appreciate how difficult it is to be a "star" in our profession. I still get jelly kneed when I get to do a character role with our national company and they invite guest artists from the Bolshoi or whatever! I feel like curtseying to them like we used to have to do whenever we saw our teachers.

 

I once went to the toilet at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and Dame Ninette de Valois was in there. When I had been at the RBS school we had had to perform a sweeping curtsey and say Madam whenever we passed her and thirty plus years later the habit was still there - except that my friend hissed to me "If you dare curtsey to her, I'll murder you!" so I didn't, but it was really, really hard!

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