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The Voice of Experience


Mignon Furman’s summer teacher intensive

Regular readers of Dance Studio Life have come to look for Mignon Furman’s “2 Tips for Teachers” department in every issue. Teachers who want more of Furman’s hard-won wisdom on ballet education have an option this summer: the Teachers Intensive 2010 at Purchase College SUNY.

The program at the Purchase campus, in New York City’s northern suburbs, runs from July 28 to August 2 and is presented by the American Academy of Ballet, which Furman founded and directs. Attendees must be older than 18 and involved in teaching ballet. There’s no registration deadline.

The program’s emphasis is nuts-and-bolts classroom work rather than theory. “I believe that teaching is a practical art that needs a practical approach—whether to a new class of 5-year-olds or to teenagers with stars in their eyes who have other options for their energy,” Furman explains in the program’s brochure.

The classes focus on such topics as classical variation as adapted for young students; postural alignment, turnout, and placement, including transfer of weight; the art and anatomy of port de bras and use of the upper body; and combinations suitable for various ages.

Attendees also will be able to familiarize themselves with the Performance Awards, Furman’s program for student development. “The basic concept is that all students—not only ‘stars’—need acknowledgement for their endeavors, an opportunity to perform a solo dance, and a stimulus to progress,” the program’s brochure explains. Awards ceremonies—at which every child gets a medal and certificate—are held as students, who start at age 5 or 6, advance through the program’s 12 levels.

In addition to getting special instruction in the Performance Awards program, teachers attending the intensive will be able to observe coaching classes for students and a Performance Awards session in which the students dance for an audience.
The faculty, in addition to Furman, includes:

• John Byrne, former artistic director of the Royal Academy of Dance in London.
• Olga Dvorovenko, who teaches the Studio Company of American Ballet Theatre.
• Rhee Gold, publisher of Dance Studio Life and motivational speaker.
• Brian Loftus, former director of dance for the Arts Educational School in London.
• Pamela McCray, a teacher in Virginia and a judge for the American Academy of Ballet Performance Awards.
• Merle Sepel, director of the Academy of Dance in Santa Ana, California, and artistic director of American Pacific Ballet Company.
• Violette Verdy, a former principal dancer with New York City Ballet and now a teacher at Indiana University in Bloomington. She joins Furman, Sepel, and Loftus on a panel for a Q&A session on August 1.

Attendance for one or two days involves a fee of $130 per day for affiliates of the Academy of American Ballet—which costs $40 a year—and $150 for non-affiliates. For those attending for three or more days, the fee is $110 for affiliates and $130 for non-affiliates. Teachers’ fees are reduced by 50 percent if five or more of their students attend the American Academy of Ballet’s Summer School of Excellence from June 27 to August 8. Observation of Summer School of Excellence classes costs $60 per day for affiliates and $70 for non-affiliates. The cost of materials—such as CDs, DVDS, and notes—is not included, though these also are cheaper for affiliates.

A limited number of rooms at a reduced rate of $155 per night, including breakfast, have been reserved at the Hilton Rye Town, a 10-minute drive from campus. Also, some double-occupancy dorm rooms are available for $50 per night (for those sharing a room) or $60 otherwise.

For more information, contact Mignon Furman at the American Academy of Ballet, 250 West 90th Street #3A, New York, NY 10024; 212.787.9500; office@american-academy-of-ballet; or


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