Gabriella, an 8-year-old from Delaware, may not have known the names of guest faculty at Peabody Dance’s 2016 Day of Master Classes — but the teachers observing the Elementary Ballet session certainly did. The young dancer was able to attend free of charge while her regular instructor observed the class, learning pacing techniques, foundational pedagogy, and fresh technical corrections from masters in the dance field.
Historically, dance teachers teach the next generation of dancers the same way they were taught. But today that’s changing. Continuing advances in research and knowledge about the biomechanics and physical well-being of dancers makes continuing education a necessary part of dance education. That’s why every fall since 2003, Peabody Dance has offered this combination of performance master classes and continuing education seminars for dance professionals.
The first portion of the day is broken up into master classes for serious ballet students, ages 8 through young adult. Students can select one or two sessions focusing on intermediate or advanced ballet, pointe, men’s ballet, or partnering. Adults observe the full morning of master classes before attending an afternoon of demonstration-discussions covering topics such as “Communicating Beauty: The Essence of Classical Ballet,” and “Turn-Out: Theory, Practices, and History.” Active participation is not only encouraged: it’s required.
In the past dozen years, this annual event has expanded from just 28 students to more than 200 participants from four states along the East Coast. Local students come recommended from Baltimore School for the Arts, George Washington Carver Center for the Arts and Technology, Towson University, Ballet Theatre of Maryland, and the Dance Conservatory of Maryland. Guest artists bring experience from the National Dance Education Organization, New York City Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and other elite troupes and programs. Past guests have included Rafael Grigorian, Rhodie Jorgenson, Marcia Dale Weary, and Anna-Marie Rabassi-Davis, who will be returning this fall.
The 2017 Day of Master Classes and Ballet Seminar: Seeing the Music, will take place on Sunday, October 8. Guest faculty include Anna-Marie Rabassi-Davis, Rafael Grigorian, and Norma Pera.
— Katy Pretz