Students begin their formal Classical Ballet training following the Vaganova methodology and syllabus with the Ballet Fundamentals II level. Originally developed by Mme. Agrippina Vaganova over one hundred years ago, the Vaganova Method combined elements of the French romantic ballet’s lyricism and the Italian ballet’s athleticism to reform the old imperial method of teaching. It emphasizes the simultaneous development of both technical proficiency and individual artistry, and a complete range of musical expression that comes out of proper placement and a strong classical dance foundation. The Vaganova methodology is a notated and progressive training program that has produced some of the best dancers in the world, including Anna Pavlova, Mikhail Baryshnikov, the legendary choreographer George Balanchine, and professional dancers in almost every company in the world.
Pre-Professional Division students take a yearly level examination in which they are individually evaluated according to the notated level requirements and are given personal feedback on their strengths and artistic and technical development.
Based upon long established concepts and ideas that were codified by Agrippina Vaganova in 1937, Ballet Technique develops the physical and mental coordination, the refined sense of music and movement and the muscular strength and flexibility that shapes the human body into a perfect instrument for classical and all other forms of dance. Up to six days a week students participate in a ballet technique class.
Ballet Fundamentals II (year 1 and 2)
Students in this level continue developing their mastery of body, leg, arms, and head placement, while learning new movements and steps. The exercises are longer and students repeat the previously learned steps in an increased number. Students continue to develop strength and flexibility. Tempo of the exercises is slow to allow students to concentrate on correct placement and lengthening of the body. The time spent at the barre is slightly reduced and increasingly more time is spent in center work where students have to learn to move without support from the barre. Female Ballet Fundamentals II students begin the year with pre-pointe work and by the second semester they begin simple pointe work at the barre.
Intermediate I (year 1 and 2)
In the Intermediate I levels, students work to strengthen the stability in turns and other exercises executed on half pointe. Strong emphasis is placed on developing smooth coordination of the arms, head and body. Increasingly more complex combinations of steps are executed.
Intermediate II (year 1 and 2)
The following elements will be stressed in level 5: mastering the technique of beats (beating steps); turns executed in various ways; starting the study of turns in big poses; developing the smoothness of graceful movements and suppleness; introducing more complicated forms of adagio; and developing elevation in the big jumps.
Also in this year, the study of jumps in various ways and the development of the ballon quality in the big jumps (bounce, springiness, elasticity of feet) will be stressed. Complicated combinations with beating steps performed in a quick tempo will be given as well. The exercises of previous years in combination with multiple turns from fifth position, with temps leve, and with preparations from second position at 45° are reiterated.
At this Level, the execution of all fundamental movements is carried through with finishing touches to reach the perfection of classical dance. The accompanying tempo picks up speed, in comparison with the preceding lessons. In this level there is also an emphasis on physical development of virtuosity and artistry.
Men’s class is designed to fine tune the technique of male dancing, focusing on physical strength, power, and brilliance with particular emphasis on elevation, pirouettes and beats.
Modern Dance Technique
The Modern Dance Technique is based upon the principles formulated by Jose Limon, Merce Cunningham, Lester Horton and Martha Graham, with emphasis upon the concepts of breath, weight, fall and recovery, and spinal articulation. Strength, flexibility and creativity are the major components.
Pas De Deux
Literally the “step of two,” pas de deux classes are the culmination of a student’s training. Due to the potential of physical injury, only the strongest males and the most appropriately conditioned females can participate in these classes. “Pas De Deux” training begins with simple promenades, floor work and basic pirouettes. Eventually, and only when the partners have developed the necessary strength and timing, they can partake in the aerial work such as overhead lifts, throws and catches.
One of the defining elements of classical ballet, female students attend multiple classes on pointe a week including classical repertory.
In variations class, students are exposed to the classical ballet repertoire by learning historically accurate choreographies from the great ballets. Students will learn excerpts from Swan Lake, Giselle, La Bayadere, Le Corsaire, The Sleeping Beauty and many others.