Lesson at the Valery Gergiev Arts College in Vladikavkaz
The art of ballet demands tremendous skill and hard work not just from dancers, but also from those who teach them. Behind each performer’s success, lie hours and hours of daily toil in ballet classrooms, where the ballet artist hones each pas to perfection under the guidance of their tutor.
Today, Tatyana Bazhitova, former soloist at the Mariinsky Theatre and current tutor at the Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre, held a special lesson for the students of the Valery Gergiev Arts College in Vladikavkaz.
‘The tutor plays a vital role in shaping a ballet dancer,’ Tatyna Bazhitova shares. ‘Their job is not just to pass on their knowledge, but also to get the student to think, to do what has to be done, not what they want. It is not until this solid foundation has been built that the tutor allows the dancer creative freedom. Not the other way round. Sometimes dancers really want to showcase their skill, and keep focusing on the one specific element they can do well, but this comes at a detriment to a lot of other elements. Which is why the tutor must gain an intuitive understanding of their student, so they can work together to find the key to real progress.’
‘Still,’ she continues, ‘There are things that no-one can control except the dancer. Physical shape, for example. The tutor may give some tips on healthy eating and exercise regimen, but the dancer is the only person who can find a diet that fits them personally, and the only person capable of taking good care of their body. Diligent work is, obviously, another thing that’s solely up to the dancer. You can motivate them, give the incentives, but they are the one who must keep on working. Otherwise, they chose the wrong profession. I would never allow my dancers to perform without giving their all! That is unfair to the audience! After all, a surgeon cannot slack off when saving a patient’s life; and art, in a way, saves people’s souls. People come to a show with a desire to take away a new experience, something out of this world, something that will put a spring in their step.’
‘Today, I had the immense pleasure of teaching students from the Vladikavkaz College of Arts,’ reminisces the tutor. ‘Those young people looked at me with such bright, eager eyes, which is incredibly important. They paid attention to what I had to say, and tried their best to do things the way I was instructing and demonstrating. They also asked a lot of questions, which means that they have a keen interest in what they do. With this approach to their work, they have a high chance to succeed in the future.’