THE DANCE SCHOOL
Not knowing exactly how things would develop in the future, I started hiring some hours in a well-known dance school in Geneva. First priority was to prepare ballet dancers for the Swiss television variety shows as well as other show business events. At the same time I started teaching Jazz or Modern Dance to anyone interested. Soon, with a little more confidence, I applied for the newly opened ballet school attached to the Company of the Grand Theater, at this time directed by George Balanchine. Beatriz Consuelo,former Ballerina of the Marquis de Cuevas Company, headed the school. I was in charge of Jazz dance for amateurs and for some of the more advanced classes.
Finally I daringly started thinking that if I wanted to achieve my ideas of teaching, I had to create my own school. To find appropriate premises was a hard undertaking, but I was very lucky. I found a very spacious studio of 150 m2 in the same building as the Grand Theater ballet school. This space was in deplorable state with no hot water, a few drops of cold one, and no sanitary equipment. After an feasibility study five pillars were removed and the roof was reenforced. Then spring dance floor, barres, light, and sound equipment were installed which was a really large investment in exchange for a relatively reasonable rent for the next five years. I was thrilled by the idea of an upcoming collaboration between the 2 schools: “upstairs” high-level ballet – “downstairs” jazz and modern dance. Things did not exactly work out like that but came close.
Finally everything was ready. The opening of my school with a totally new concept of teaching, at least for Europe. There were no pre-ballet classes, but a very solid system adapted at the age of the children without the non productive improvisation classes that meant “to let the child express him/ herself.” Children are able to absorb so much knowledge and are so eager to show what they have learned. We just took away the words: difficult or too hard, and has to be done like this - just let them experience the feeling of "we can do it."
Progressively, turnout is added to parallel positions – 1st, 2nd & 4th exist in 2 versions and no
6th position of the Serge Lifar style, which is still around even now! Following this was the
definition of the most used steps, jumps and turns (jazz-pas-de-bourrés, assemblés, sissonnes, turns en dedans/en dehors, practice of parallel and en-dehors positions, and so forth). Fast weight changes and coordination typical of jazz techniques were progressively added to this regimen.
|The telephone ...||Positioning the back ...||Connecting feet ...||... and adding the arms.||A cart wheel to finish up.|
Our Jazz classes for beginners were based on MATT MATTOX oriented technique; in the second to 4th year we changed to LUIGI technique, which was chosen for its great help in acquiring strength for non-ballet trained students, and for a feeling of familiarity for classical trained dancers, who are often panic-stricken by the fast weight-shifts and speedy co-ordination of steps and movements.
For Modern Dance, I choose MARTHA GRAHAM’s technique: the only technique able to form dancers from A to Z, without reference to ballet, even though she added turnout to her movements in her later years.
Modern Jazz Ballet Troup <<click here>>