Friday, 24 May 2013

RBS Character Dance Teachers' Course

Character Dance Teachers' Course, Royal Ballet School - reviewed on 21st May

A version of this blog has also been published on the Royal Ballet School's website news.

Over six days, teachers from across the world have been at the Royal Ballet School learning Maria Fay's character dance training method, which Ninette de Valois brought to the school in 1955.

The course is led by Amanda Maxwell, a former dancer with the Royal Ballet’s Ballet for All, London Festival Ballet and Northern Ballet, who studied under Fay and now teaches character to RBS students aged 16-18. The course guides teachers through the principals of Hungarian, Polish and Russian dance, so that they can pass on the training to their own advanced students.


I visited the school to observe as Maxwell coached Russian sequences. She was keen to convey the emotional feeling and story behind the style: "You're not aristocrats and you're not peasants, but you know your place in society. Think of the Petrushka nursemaids."

She also highlighted the movement dynamics, from delicate dotting steps to the drama and surprise of sudden pirouettes: "Nothing works as a dramatic moment unless it comes from the soul."

Maxwell described the intentions of Fay's character training: "It was important that her method wasn't frightening to classical dancers and that it didn't bulk out the muscles. But it needed to have the right feeling of folklore dance.

"The teaching provides a different way of looking at movement, a different emphasis. It also increases students' musical understanding. Everything is designed to enhance classical ballet training."

It is wonderful that the Royal Ballet School are not only continuing this heritage within their own training but also passing on the methods to external dance teachers. I wish I could have stayed for the whole course and joined in myself.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I agree. unfortunately Character classes were taken out of the College at the RAD some years. And the Character reduced to a minimum in the new grades. The heritage is certainly being lost on that front. Shame on the "system" as it destroyed a very important part of dance teachers education.

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