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Dance Magazine: CPYB methods


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Now, Sarabeth, I did give you permission to answer any open question on CPYB, or to correct misinformation, based on your experience there, but your post does neither!:mad:

 

Keep to the rules under which permission was granted! The next post to this thread like this will be summarily deleted.

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Guest Drivingmom

To answer the original question; "Do they train children in a different way?"

 

In my opinion they do train their younger children in a different way then most schools. At some schools when children start at 5 and 6 years of age they run around the class room a lot pretending they are butterflys, the wind, etc. Or they have story time. Marcia has a different approach..... she treats these young children as small/ short dancers. They have bar work like one would see in any advanced class and center work as you would see in older classes. She also takes a very personal interest in these beginner classes and teaches a good many herself in which you can see her down close to the floor helping kids with correct placement of their feet. The first year students have 12 classes a week available for them to participate. It is recommended that they take 3 classes a week, but are incouraged to take as many as they would like to take. They get accustomed to talking many classes a week at young age. As they get older, talking 30 hours of classes a week is nothing to them.

After the first year the children know most of the basics of dance and can usually do assembles and balances at 6 years old. It is amazing how quickly their younger children progress. They seem to be like sponges at this young age and they just soak up everything that is presented to them. I think what Marcia has accomplished with all of her students in the past 45+ years is truely amazing. She is an amazing teacher and many of her students have had or are having amazing careers in dance.

 

Hi Shelley:)

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. They have bar work like one would see in any advanced class and center work as you would see in older classes.

 

Well, not quite unless the advanced class you know are extremely slow and simple, her class is the most appropriate for children that age and that is the only way I know a child should be trained, as far as the center is concerned, unless your older classe do not do pirouette and entrechat and still work on balances then yes it seems right, I teach at CPYB every summer and go observe Marcia class regularly because it reminds me the way I was trained at POB. I do teach myself youngsters and some are 6 years old, and I do not have them running around doing the butterfly, that is for preballet.

And the reason behind their amazing progress is the regularity of their training, a class a day is what it should be at hat age in order to progress the right way, again I repeat myself if a child wants to become a gymnast , swimmer, ice skater etc, I don't think the child would come once a week.

:)

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It is really quite amazing then that this country is able to produce so many good dancers, considering that there are few, if any, other schools in this country who have 6 year olds in technique classes on a daily basis! ;)

 

Personally, I think it would be ideal if we could have more schools who only accept serious students with parents who will get them there daily, however, I'm not sure I would do it with 6 year olds even then. Maybe 8 year olds.

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While ABT does seem to have an abundance of foreign trained stars, there are still some Americans there, and of course a LOT of other companies in this country with some very fine American principal dancers. :)

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At the moment may be the keyword there, but again, that is only ABT and also only at the moment. I believe some people would consider the principal dancers at NYCB to be big stars as well, and perhaps even some of the principal dancers from MCB, SFB, PNB, Joffrey, and even some smaller companies. The real point here is that we have trained stars in this country and we have done it without the kind of ideal schools that exist in some other countries. It's not easy, that's for sure! ;) But, it is done, and it is often done rather well :)

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Maybe it's "good old American ingenuity"?! :cool:

 

But back to the main thrust of fendrock's original post about the very young dancers of CPYB - who were mentioned it the article (which by the way goes into the choreoplan from one choreographer's point of view by way of a journal approach) in Dance Magazine...

 

Obviously there are different approaches to training, be they American, European, Cuban, South African, etc., but as a parent, and as a former child myself ;), I want to know when and how these young dancers have time for their academic school work or even time to eat and sleep? OK, I'm exaggerating a bit here...but there are only so many hours in the day and young bodies need sleep for growth and health. CPYB does not have an academic component within its program...I know they have a relationship with their local public schools but still if someone is even on early release...how early is early and when do they pursue their academic studies? (Here, I am assuming we are not talking about one ballet class a day.)

 

I do believe that most serious ballet students in this country do very much want to take ballet technique, pointe, etc., everyday - or at least 6 days a week. It's agreed that this can be difficult to find...and if one does find it - along with a high level of training - one must figure out how to combine it with the dancer's academic school as well...for as a friend of mine once said "No one wants a dumb swan." And to that, I'd like to add: nor do we want any "dumb" princes either!;)

 

Putting aside the validity of one school's training methods as compared to another's, this does seem to be the great challenge.

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The 10 and 11 years olds who were used in the Choreoplan workshop were on pointe. At CPYB it is not unusual for 8 or 9 year olds to be on pointe. The 10 and 11 year olds in the workshop would have a very similar schedule as the advanced class. They would routinely have dance class from 5:30 to 9:15 daily and dance from 10am - 7 on Saturdays. Classes include technique, pointe, variations and pas de deux. Some of the children also take extra classes in the afternoon and on Sundays. They are amazingly strong by the age of 10 or 11 with this kind of schedule .

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This sounds highly excessive to me for this age child. And putting children on pointe at anything under 11, and usually 12, is too soon, IMO.

 

I am well aware that young gymnasts and skaters who show exceptional talent put in this kind of time. The major difference here is that the careers of these athletes (Note: athletes, not artists) need to peak somewhere around 15 years old, and they are over at 20. This is not the case with dancers. Their technical peak is later, and their artistic peak even later still. And their careers can go much longer. I don't feel that the analogy or comparison of training these athletes with the training of young dancer/artists is valid or relevant. I will go back to Watermill's wonderful quote from another thread ..."Ballet dancers should be slow cooked in a crock pot, not flash-fried in a microwave".

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So what time does academic school get out for these young dancers? Is the 1-1/2 hours or so they have between getting home from school and leaving for dance class enough to get all of their homework done? Or, are these 10/11 year olds coming home at 9:30 with another hour or two of homework to do, book reports to write, projects to complete, etc.? Or, are the majority of the serious students at CPYB home-schooled?

 

I realize that CPYB turns out technically superior dancers at a very young age. However, I am wondering if anyone has followed these young dancers throughout their careers to see if they have higher than the average number of injuries due to starting on pointe before their bones were fully formed and overusing their growing bones and muscles with a 6 day a week/5 hour a day schedule? Or, are they relatively injury free? If so, does this mean that if you strengthen growing bones and muscles correctly, they do not suffer any damage from so much stress and use during those growing years?

 

Is there any study that shows the advantages/disadvantages to becoming technically proficient and strong at a much younger age than the average professional dancer? Does this lead to a longer, more brilliant career or to a shorter, more explosive one? Does this lead to a younger career, but not necessarily one that can stand the test of time and advancing years?

 

Another question I have is how does the daily schedule for a 8-10 year old at CPYB differ from the schedule of a child the same age at one of the world's most famous schools (SAB, Royal Ballet, POB, Kirov)? While many of these schools do not board students at this age, some do provide classes for this age level. Can anyone share a typical schedule for this age group at one of these other schools, (also known for turning out some of the finest dancers in the world)?

 

I know that this post is filled with questions, but I think that this is one of those areas where it is easy to get caught up in the early, amazing results and forget to read the rest of the book! Is becoming a soloist with a major company at the age of 18 or 19 one of the early chapters in these extraordinary dancers' stories? What happens in the "later chapters" for the majority of CPYB dancers?

 

CPYB has been training dancers in this way for 30 years now, so there are lots of former CPYB students out there who are now at the other end of their dance careers and their experiences really are an important part of this formula. I don't know the answers to any of these questions; however, I am sure that there are others on this board who can share factual, if perhaps anecdotal, information that might help us put this all into perspective!

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Guest Leigh Witchel

Again, I've only choreographed at CPYB, not taught or studied there.

 

From what I've seen, it isn't for everyone, but there have been plenty of people who studied there, including all the LeBlanc sisters, Lisa de Ribere, Sean Lavery, Katrina Killian, Darla Hoover, Debbie Wingert (off the top of my head) who had long full careers in top companies (in some cases, still going strong) without injury or burnout. I'm only mentioning the older alumnae, not the ones under 30.

 

I think potential students and parents should take a long hard look before they commit to that sort of training and decide for themselves if they think it is right for themselves or their child. It is not right for every dancer, and there are plenty of dancers who had major careers via a different pedagogy. In their defense, 35+ dancers feeding into NYCB as well as dancers in every other major company in the country is also nothing to sniff at. I've seen CPYB dancers almost everywhere I've choreographed. One may not agree with how they are trained, but the fact remains they are well-trained.

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Thank you Leigh! I really appreciate your information about some of the CPYB veterans.

 

I do want to make clear that I don't know whether I agree or disagree with the training at CPYB. I don't think that I have enough information, at this point, to make such a determination. That is why I am asking all these questions and why I really appreciate answers such as yours.

 

I do know that no one program is right for every dancer. The trick is finding the program that is right for yours!

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