I love to watch young dancers as they are challenged by someone “new” to them, as today in our first Master Class of the year. Ballet students love a challenge but sometimes their old teacher bores them. No one’s fault, just too much of the same thing, same person, same corrections, same suggestions. No matter how hard or how much time we take designing creative classes and exercises, students seem to know our “schtick”. This is where master classes taught by specialists are so valuable to both student body and teachers.
Our school is so very fortunate that Gretta Marchek from June Taylor’s School of Dance in Tualatin, Oregon, has family here in Central Oregon. And as such, travels to Bend each Memorial Day for visits with family. And, kudos to June Taylor for allowing us to enjoy Ms Gretta’s wonderful teaching style. Ms Gretta taught a master class last Memorial Day (in 2011) and here she is again!! Yea! How lucky are we? Very.
Today’s two-hour class covered all the usual issues, placement, use of legs, presentation, musicality and dynamics; and many, many other elements. As the class progressed, I saw how they worked towards a new and deeper awarenesses into dance technique. Legs stretched and bodies lifted so much that their placement became even more solid than at the start of class. Necks and shoulders relaxed as tension released, to be placed in more useful places such as the body’s core. Hands gained a softness and arms became shaped and firmly held.
I’ like to think that these young students of mine are all strong as a result Royal Academy of Dance examination process. Most take 4 – 6 classes per week from me, their primary teacher. Not all are hoping for a career in dance, but all love the challenge and joy of dance. What they share is the desire to listen and apply corrections and suggestions during barre and centre floor exercises of ballet class. This special teacher blew a breath of fresh air into our studio.
Today I watched as each dancer made improved changes over 2 hours, a miraculous feat indeed. I would say it is a testament to their drive to learn and grow in their craft, even at their young ages. (the oldest is 15, youngest 13)
Master classes benefit the teacher, me specifically, also. From the gallery, I observed how each child worked and strove for change. I watched as Ms Marchek worked with each student, pulling the best out of each. No one gave up. All tried their best. If I’d worn a buttoned jacket, the buttons would have all burst.
It is so much fun to see one’s students shine with someone else at the helm. As with all children, these wonderful ballet students are only on loan to me – and only for a short few years. Then they’ll be on their own life’s journey.