Technique is based on the syllabus and training program of the Vaganova system taught at the Vaganova and Bolshoi Academies of Russia. This method uses a carefully developed progression in which correct technique and placement is learned in simple steps before a dancer attempts more difficult movements. This method provides the student with a foundation of technical skills which makes the mastery of more difficult repertoire possible. Vaganova trained dancers are recognized globally for their impeccable, clean technique, and our school carries on this same Russian tradition.
When a female student demonstrates that she has successfully achieved body, foot and ankle strength and mastered a foundation of classical technique, she will be permitted to take on the increased physical demands of training “en pointe.” At Greenwich Ballet Academy, pointe training generally begins between age 10 and 11 and in Level 3A. We encourage our beginning pointe students to start their pointe work in the summer session to build a strong foundation with daily pointe classes.
Male technique is the synthesis of traditional classical technique with the addition of a special masculine bravado and athletic lexicon of movements that are usually attributed to leading male roles in the classical ballet repertoire. It requires a special syllabus; one more concentrated towards physical strength and the coordination needed to execute moves such as feats, leaps, or tricks, among others. Our artistic director, Yuri Vodolaga, works with all of our male dancers to build their strength and teach them male repertoire.
FOLK & CHARACTER DANCE
Folk & Character Dance is a specific subdivision of classical dance based on national and folkloric traditions that have been stylized and included in classical ballets. The classical character repertoire includes national dances from Hungary (czardas), Poland (mazurka and polonaise), Russia (troika) and Spain (flamenco). Folk traditions have always been a part of ballet, but it was not until the legendary choreographer, Marius Petipa, and his assistant, Alexander Shirayev, that they became their own unique, codified art form as found in classical ballets such as the Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake.
Where ballet technique is often focused on line, the building of controlled tension to create lift/lightness in the body, and impeccably structured placement, modern dance techniques tend to focus on grounding one’s weight into the earth, isolating movement in certain parts of the body, and using one’s weight and natural momentum to move their body through space. In the first year of our contemporary curriculum, dancers are taught how to release their bodies from the structure taught in their ballet classes. They learn how to use their spines for movement rather than structure (roll through, curve, spiral), drop their center of gravity and weight closer to the earth, use momentum to drive their movement, and create fluidity and sharpness through the study of isolations. In the second year of contemporary, concepts are tied together to develop more complex exercises and greater understanding of movement. Dancers are also asked to find more creativity and use of their personal voices through exercises in guided improvisation and gesture. The daily classical ballet technique classes provide a dancer’s foundation. Our contemporary program is developed as a supplement, adding new layers of ability to a dancer’s toolbox. We start our contemporary program after a foundation of classical technique has been obtained, usually at age 11 or 12 in level 3B.
Repertoire is chosen from the full range of classical choreographic works. Repertoire will be selected to best showcase the strengths and talents of our student body. Students are trained only by principal dancers and soloists who can draw upon their own performing experiences in the roles they are teaching.
Pilates for dancers is offered to improve flexibility, core strength, body control, coordination, and breathing.
Ballet conditioning classes are offered to improve overall core strength, cardiovascular fitness, strengthen the arms and back and build strength to achieve higher jumps. Conditioning also strengthens opposing muscles to create symmetry and balance in the body and to reduce the chances of injury.