Cultivating Readiness: Training a Classical Dancer for Contemporary Dance Movement



Windom, Kristina

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The goal of this thesis is to answer this question: “How do classical ballet companies sustain themselves in a twenty-first century society that is attracted to diverse and innovative ideas?” As a teacher of both classical and contemporary ballet, graduate student, and administrator at a classical ballet school, I bring a distinct perspective to this topic. I have noticed that ballet companies around the world are presenting a spectrum of different productions within any given season. Some of these works are new and perhaps world-premieres added to their repertory by sought-after choreographers. The decision to present such a wide range of movement is usually motivated by a desire to appeal to audiences seeking diverse, non-classical styles as well as typical, traditional story-ballets. More importantly, the shift in repertory also raises questions about the transformation of organizations as they attempt to revolutionize and stay relevant. In my research, I focus on what choreographers today need from dancers and how these dance-makers and this new repertory are influencing changes in pedagogy. I also examine how young dancers can build reliable classical ballet technique in concert with a curiosity about movement and expression, namely an ability to perform contemporary ballet by artists such as Alonzo King and Crystal Pite. As a result of my research, I have produced a plan that allows the classical ballet student to successfully move to become an employable ballet dancer. This plan creates more confidence in young professionals, preparing them to access the range and versatility of today’s movement. The design and implementation of my ballet curricula also safeguards and improves dancers’ health and well-being in these changing times.



Classical ballet, Training classical dancers, Contemporary dance, Contemporary ballet training, Ballet pedagogy, Professional dance training