Friday, July 20, 2007

Coming to the End at Mary Kay

During our week long stay at the Mary Kay Manning School of Dance we've had the pleasure of staying with our good friends Jennifer and Shane Hunter and their kids, Zach, Kara and Colin. Colin, who is two, walks around the house on demi pointe most of the time.

Yesterday we met some members of the extended Hunter family. They asked Valery what his favorite ballet is. His answer is Spartacus, the Bolshoi Ballet production with Vladimir Vasiliev. There are some clips of this production on You Tube, and so I include them here for you:

Spartacus was one ballet that was cut from our children's book by the editing team for lack of space. It features some bravura male performances. Vladimir Vasiliev is also perhaps Valery's favorite dancer.

Now back to the story of our classes. Valery arrived from Russia with two new class music CDs. We have used one most of the time. The second has a tempo more suited to professional dancers and longer tracks for big combinations. Until Mary Kay's studio, Valery has felt that it would be too difficult for the students in a typical class. But after a few days at Mary Kay's studio he decided to try it out. It's great to have variety in music, and the change brought new energy to the advanced class. My personal favorite track on the new CD is the track for grande battement which features Prokofiev's music from the ballet Romeo and Juliet. (And incidentally the same music plays on Valery's Myspace page).

A full week with the same students, even in large classes like the ones at Mary Kay's, make it hard for any student to hide in the back and hope the Russian doesn't see them. I should mention that if Valery "picks on you" it probably means he thinks you're doing a good job but could do even better if you changed a habit here or there. In other words, being picked on is a compliment. "You have talent," he said to one student the other day. "If you don't have, I shut up."

Today we will do our final classes at this studio. In the morning we'll spend an hour working with the little ones preparing to show their dance to their parents during the last half hour of class. The two other classes will be open and parents and friends can watch as well.