January 15, 2007
What's in a word -- a hell of a lot. For instance:
Brittle a. - hard but easily broken Crisp a. - brittle - clear - fresh "The dancer's movement was brittle" "The dancer's movement was crisp?"
Which would say is a good critique?
I was recently at an open discussion and a speaker was making fun of himself when he told the audience that he had won the "Alan Banks Award." I am sure he thought that everyone knew what the "Alan Banks Award" was about. Unfortunately the audience was impressed that he had won an award, even if they didn?t know what it was. I and maybe a few others in the audience knew that he was poking fun at himself. The very impressive award was for the "worst performance of the year." Yet the audience left the auditorium thinking he must have been great.
As a dance teacher for over 55 years; I know the word scholarship thrills everyone that has had that honor. Even if it is for one of the most ill-- equipped schools in the world.
Tell me what makes a Ballet Master? Besides a person calling themselves that.
I am sure this may be true in other professions, but a ballet student who has studied for many years believes they belong in an advanced class. The grading of classes depends on who the instructor happens to be.
The Kennedy Center Honors
Winning an award should depend on the accomplishments of the recipient. I have no respect for The Kennedy Center Honors. The persons who win this impressive honor may or may not deserve it. To prove my point: I submitted the name of Willam Christensen, the founder of the first major ballet company in the USA -- The San Francisco Ballet Company, which is still a major company 73 years later. I submitted stacks of newspaper clippings, history book articles, programs and the cover of Dance Magazine honoring him and his brothers for their huge contribution to American ballet. I wanted to give him credit while he was still alive. He has since passed away. He certainly deserved to have been a recipient of The Kennedy Center Honors, but I was informed that he was not well known. Is The Kennedy Center Honors a popularity contest or is it given for the contributions individuals have made to the performing arts?
There is no definitive test to prove who is a good teacher. To me, a good teacher must know their subject and be able to pass their knowledge on to others. Being liked by their students is important, because we all want to prove our best to a teacher we like.
What You Say and How You Mean It
I remember an incident in a ballet class where the teacher, Yeichi Nimura, told a student that she had done a combination very well. After the class I asked Mr. Nimura how he could have told her she had done well? In reality she had made a mess of the combination. His reply has stayed with me ever since, "For her, she did the combination well." I try to use that philosophy while teaching today.
Words can be used to hurt or encourage.