Well I made it through the week. American Ballet Theatre’s National Training Curriculum level 4-5 was at times daunting, the amount of new information sometimes felt overwhelming especially since I’ve always been the type of dancer who experiences movement more than I think about it. However, the further I get into the program, the more the structure of the training becomes clear to me. At each level the basic principles stay the same, as Ryan sometimes says, “ballet is nothing more than fancy walking.” Well it’s a little more complicated than that but in truth all of ballet and really movement if you think of it is composed of 7 basic elements.
Pliér – to bend
Sauter – to jump
Elancer – to dart refining the body of the dancer in space as he/she alters position in the room.
Glisser – to glide Tourner – to turn
Add to this ABT’s 10 principles and voile, you’ve got yourself a method. To turn a method into a curriculum we add progression. Here is were level 4-5 got challenging for me, not only was I required to know what students of this ability should be able to do and what they shouldn’t be asked to do for either safety or developmental reasons, but also how to get them to a place of proficiency starting at the Pre-Primary level (age 3).
On Saturday we had our exams and I’m happy to say that I passed which allows me to continue on to the final levels this week. I am looking forward to seeing how the curriculum creates the dancers who grace the stage, what tools are given to achieve mastery of technique and artistic expression. While, until now I feel the most affinity with level 4, the opportunity to see the upper level students at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School and take class with their teachers touches again the dancer inside of me. The one who feels and now thinks.