Laying the Groundwork: USA International Dance School

Article excerpt

The USA International Dance School, which coexisted with the USA International Ballet Competition, was conducted in an atmosphere of glamour created by the omnipresent prominent dance figures--the master teachers, the international jury, famous international visitors, and talented competitors with their coaches from every land. There were more than 300 students registered for the two-week intensive courses by a galaxy of master teachers. A lure was the competition, offering opportunities to see exciting performances every day. The students took advantage of these performances by the talented and highly motivated competitors, and from their assigned seats in the balcony of the Municipal Auditorium they animated the proceedings with their screams of appreciation and squeals of delight for every bravura accomplishment.

The school, directed by Anna-Marie Holmes, associate director of Boston Ballet, profited from her many international experiences and connections. It offered a faculty of sixteen masters of various dance forms from many countries. Classical ballet was the chief subject taught, mainly by teachers of the Kirov's Vaganova system and by veterans of the Bolshoi school. There were also a teacher trained at England's Royal Ballet School and a Cuban trained in Havana and St. Petersburg. In addition to daily classes in ballet technique, students had classes in pointe, variations, pas de deux, and men's classes. Modern dance, jazz, mime, musical theater, music appreciation, and character dancing were also on the daily schedule. Character dancing, neglected in most American schools, was given special attention, and was taught brilliantly by Peter Pawlyshyn, graduate of the Pavel Virsky Folk Dance Studio in Kiev. A workshop for dance teachers, apart from the classes for young students, was taught by Tatiana Legat of the Vaganova school.

Competitors, including those eliminated in the several rounds, also took classes. Their classes, at no fee, were separate from those of the students who came specifically to study. Teachers of the classes for competitors included some of the coaches; I saw an especially fine class taught by Antonio Castilla of Barcelona. …