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Establishing the Importance of Watching Ballet for Classical Ballet Students

  • Author(s): Tonarelli, Siobhan Searle
  • Advisor(s): Fisher, Jennifer
  • et al.
Abstract

An important connection exists between watching high-level professional ballet and the classical ballet student’s technical and artistic development as a dancer. While the exposure to professional dancers and performances is inherent in traditional ballet conservatories that are directly linked to professional companies, this part of the dancer’s training is often not addressed in private studios and university programs where interaction with the professional realm is not part of the student’s regular activities. This link remains undocumented in the literature that covers ballet pedagogy; therefore, this thesis seeks to formally identify the value of watching professional ballet as part of classical ballet training. The research first explores written records, such as dancers’ memoirs and pedagogy texts that indirectly support this connection. Interviews with current ballet teachers give further insight into this topic. The research also addresses the difference between conservatory-model schools and other training options highlighting the historical factors that led to the widespread split of ballet schools from professional companies. Finally, results from two research studies, conducted with ballet students at the University of California, Irvine and involving the integration of video materials into ballet classes and coaching sessions, address the benefits students can gain from exposure to ballet’s visual tradition.

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