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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Who are the most famous ballet teachers?


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I'm just curious -who would you say are the most prestigious teachers in the country? If you had the chance to take a class with someone (or your child had a chance), then who would that someone be?

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This is a very difficult question to answer. While there are famous dancers, teaching ballet somewhere if not everywhere, a famous teacher is yet again something totally different. The most noted teachers of ballet tend to be the ones working with students of the highest level of ballet in a particular circumstance. Teachers of younger age ranges generally do not get recognition for the work they do that enables higher level teachers to be recognized. Most higher level teachers would not fare well teaching at a beginner nor intermediate level. A talented teacher who becomes a recognized name in the industry, generally has been working in a very disciplined circumstance/ learning environment for many years, producing an entire generation of students who rise to the professional level under their guidance. Often times, the most famous teachers are the ones who have a particular class or student last, for maybe a year or two. It takes a community of teachers to train students to become professional dancers, not just one teacher. Unfortunately students often discount their training prior to their most advanced years of training and recognize only their most advanced level teacher.


At this time, I am not able to add any particular teacher to your list, rather schools of training that are producing a high level professional product.

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How beautifully put and how true! I remember being treated with great respect at Elmhurst Ballet School in Birmingham, when I went to visit a former student who was training there. The AD made a point of noting that they were always most welcoming to the teachers, because we were the ones who had brought the students up to the level that enabled them to be accepted to the school. I thought that was really nice and I very much appreciated it. I really hate it when a teacher takes sole credit after working with an advanced student for just a year or two. Every teacher at every level contributes to the student's development and of course the process continues if and when they turn professional. Also it is not only the famous teachers who are worth taking class with - there are so many unsung ballet masters and mistresses who make a huge impact on their students. And don't forget that it is often a question of what suits one student, may not suit another. Some need a more nurturing approach - others need to be pushed in a tougher manner. I think that's why summer courses are so important as they give you a chance to sample a range of teachers in addition to your regular ones.

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When I was seeking ballet training for my daughter (about 6 years ago), I found names of teachers on the faculty page of schools in our area. Then I did a google search on those teachers names to see what would come up. Using this method, I found a teacher who had been mentioned in the bio of many professional dancers at ballet companies across the country, as well as in newspaper & magazine articles. This was the school I chose for my daughter.

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My dd says she has a bit of every single teacher/coach she's ever had in her dancing. It's almost like she carries a tool box around with their pearls of wisdom and "tricks" of the trade. Sometimes when she's having an off day, she will even imagine that one of them is there with her. When she's aching and tired and facing the second performance of the day, she imagines one specific one of them in the audience and dances for them. It does indeed take a village!

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I cannot put it any better than Ms. Schneider has! A students journey is a long one and will be guided by many instructors. I believe the "best" teachers provide for each student what is needed at that specific time in their journey. As stated, most of the "recognized" teachers will be from the later years of that journey. It is unfortunate that those lower level teachers are not as recognized. Without the solid base of training they provided, the "finishing" years would not be possible. Fame is a funny thing based on public perception and is not always based on merit.

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gcwhitewater wrote: Fame is a funny thing based on public perception and is not always based on merit.


Yes. :)


And I agree also wholly that those teachers who "laid the groundwork" were just as important and influential - if not immediately seen - as those who put the "finishing touches" on, just before the dancer goes off on his or her career.



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Very much agreed, as well, about the teachers who "laid the groundwork." Since most dancers will not become household names in the fame category, either, these wonderful teachers are good examples for our dks to see about how life usually works and that success is really about the sharing of what they love and dedication to their calling.


As far as researching to find teachers who have those successes associated with their names, that is logical and not a bad idea. But don't forget these are just people with all the same personality variations and limitations as anyone else! There is so much more to being a great teacher than being able to teach technique or coach for a competition medal. We also need them to be great human beings!

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  • 2 weeks later...

vrsfanatic put it beautifully. I have been disappointed on more than one occasion when I showed up to take class with a "famous" teacher and found that He/She only "gave" class, rather that "taught" class...seeming as if their reputations rested on a hand full of famous dancers that they have taught. Or perhaps they were just tired. I still believe that the "best" teacher I ever had was the first (I was very very lucky) and I am sure that no one has ever heard of her. I have tried to model my teaching style on her.

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  • 6 months later...

If I had the chance to take a class with a ballet teacher, I think I would like to work with Twyla Tharp, just to discover her technique based on a combination between modern and ballet dance techniques. Would love to dance with her company, that would be a dream come true !!!


But, more seriously, if I can advise you, I already worked with Liz Alpe when I've danced at Danceworks few years ago, honestly she taught me a lot. I loved her technique and classes which were dynamic and friendly. So if you want to discover her class, go to Danceworks, they do summer intensive workshops at the end of July, you’ll not regret it !!!!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I would definately opt for a class from any former ABT principal, or any other major company such as SFB.

However, I would love to take a class from anyone from the Bolshoi Ballet!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yesterday the world lost it's very best and most famous ballet teacher. The great David Howard. My daughter loved his classes and I loved his quick wit. The entire ballet world morns this great loss.

Edited by lmaty
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Very sad...I took his class twice a week. I will miss him very much.

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  • 4 years later...

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