Magazine article Dance Teacher

Judy Rice: How I Teach Ballet

Magazine article Dance Teacher

Judy Rice: How I Teach Ballet

Article excerpt

IN a spacious loft in Brooklyn, New York, the dancers of Artists Simply Human's summer intensive are making a lot of noise in their ballet class. "AH! AH! AH!" they yell each time they jump during a 16-count phrase of changements. At the head of the classroom is Judy Rice, encouraging them. "If a jump were to talk, it would sound like this: 'AH!'" she exclaims. It might look more like ballerinasgone-wild than a strategic and effective choice, but making the noise gives the dancers that extra oomph they need to soar higher into the air.

Motivating dancers isn't just a talent of Rice's-it's her specialty. As an associate professor of dance at University of Michigan and a full-time faculty member with ASH, she brings her unique brand of inspiration to both college dancers in Ann Arbor and convention dancers in 20 cities nationwide each year. On the convention circuit, she focuses on sharing her passion for ballet, rather than just drilling technique. "If I can expose them to the love of it, then that starts the ball rolling to get them into ballet class when they go home," she says. Through humor and metaphor, Rice strikes the right balance between fun and form, making ballet exciting and accessible for a broad range of dancers.

Her hour-long intermediate ballet class at ASH includes dancers ages 7-13. Despite the range, Rice has found that everyone can benefit from imagery. "I'm really analogy-driven, because I remember when I was that age, that really resonated with me," she says. …

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