At one of the several teachers’ intensives I have attended at American Ballet Theatre over the past four years my mentor, Raymond Lukens (at left)—who happens to be co-creator of ABT’s National Training Curriculum along with his esteemed colleague Franco De Vita—asked a roomful of sweaty ballet teachers, Do you realize how lucky you are to be doing this job?
Yes, I really do realize how lucky I am. I spend my days creating classical ballet exercises that will help shape and form a new generation of young dancers, and then I guide them through the execution of those exercises. I sit squarely in the middle of three generations of instructors on one faculty—the youngest the school’s director and visionary, and the oldest a former soloist with American Ballet Theatre for many years during Baryshnikov’s tenure there. I consider myself very lucky indeed to have these two colleagues as bookends, and also as creative barometers.
Here are a few of the images that greet me during my working day.
the entrance to the school
the school’s main classroom
and one of my favorite corridors, right around the corner from the school’s entrance
The building where I teach is old and quirky and has seen many uses and episodes of remodeling through the years. In its current guise it is home to artists and creative businesses of all sorts and has a fantastic energy to it.
Soon the ballet school will move into a new facility that is literally across the railroad tracks from our current space, about five months behind schedule. It is also old and quirky but with fewer tenants. We will gain an additional classroom space—critically important to a growing school—and significantly, the three of us will see much more of each other. Operating out of two facilities as we have been since September, we are like ships passing in the night.
The school I founded in Knoxville had so much going for it, but I was working in a creative vacuum there. I am immeasurably excited about the prospect of being part of a community of ballet artists for the first time in my professional life.