BY PALLAS SLUYTER
My Approach to Teaching
I love teaching! It is my joy and passion. I love pushing my dancers to undiscovered territory. I love getting the best out of them, along their journey of discovery. I love pushing them to their upper limits, but always with love and encouragement. I welcome and encourage questions in class. I respect any dancer who shows up, is hungry for knowledge, and is willing to work. I aim to strike a fine balance of pushing the dancers to their technical and artistic heights, simultaneously acutely mindful of teaching in a ‘body friendly’ way, with injury prevention in mind.
Teaching Style and Coaching
I have a razor-sharp eye, and finely honed communication skills. I make it my business to be sure that my corrections are being understood by the dancers, without a shadow of a doubt. If they are not ‘getting it’, I will find another way to say it, and keep going until they get it. Applications of corrections are put into practice on the spot, and drilled immediately after the verbal corrections are given. In this way, the knowledge and skill is solidified into the muscle memory, immediately.
In the children’s classes I teach, I am known to be ‘strict and sweet’. I push the children in a physically healthy way, and am well known for spicing things up with a sometimes goofy sense of humor. It’s a sneaky tactic. I get the kids laughing, and they don’t realize just how hard they are working! In all levels of classes (youth, adult beginners, and professionals), I often use an array of musical styles during technique class- everything from classical, to pop, to progressive rock and even hard rock. This wakes the students up, and the varying musical styles and rhythms probe the dancers to discover uncharted areas of their dance technique.
My teaching style might be termed ‘Old School’, especially considering the apparent current climate of much of what is going on in the dance world. Meaning, I offer an abundance of technical corrections, aesthetic, artistic, and dramatic coaching. In today’s dance world, giving corrections appears to be a dying art, as a result of the commercial need to fill class enrolment and the popular dance convention culture. Additionally, I provide psychological and emotional counseling for dancers. Having had an extensive performance career, I have just about ‘seen it all’. It is my joy to guide children and budding professional dancers, by sharing the benefit of my direct experience with them, and potentially enabling them to sidestep some of the numerous pitfalls, which are common in the dance world. I have guided a number of pre-professional and professional dancers at pivotal moments in their careers. The dance world can be, and is tough. Negotiating those challenges is an integral aspect of success, and personal fulfillment.
Old School / New School
With each new generation of dancers, the technical standards and artistic demands continue to rise. The more well versed a budding professional dancer is in classical ballet, modern , contemporary, and jazz dance techniques, the stronger their chances are of competing in the job market. The strength and beautiful lines of classical ballet technique are now demanded of modern and contemporary dancers.
By the same token, the ability to dance off balance, with athleticism, release technique and strong floor work, is expected of classical dancers.
With my extensive experience as a professional all around dancer, I am entirely at home in training modern and jazz dancers to strengthen their
classical technique, and concurrently, training classical dancers to find the release and attack movement aspects, demanded by modern, contemporary and jazz techniques. By training aspiring professional dancers to develop their versatility to its full potential, they’ll have strong chances of becoming employable, and succeeding in the increasingly competitive dance world.
Emphasis of Classes
At The Barre
- The importance, understanding and application of the articulation of the demi pointe to full pointe footwork in ALL movements
- Proper alignment, applicable in classical and modern dance techniques
- Gentle, progressive, strengthening, lengthening warm up
- Finding the relaxation inside the exertion, most specifically through mindful and directed use of the breath
- Dancing and performing the barre, approaching epaulment and performance quality as an integral aspect of technique
- Alternately, allowing professional dancers to utilize the barre as a gentle, non- performance oriented, meditative warm up which allows them to prepare for a heavy day of rehearsal or performance
- Unwavering and precise musicality and phrasing
- Brilliant petit allegro foot work in the Balanchine style
- Use of upper body release and emphasis of the dropped pelvis in deep demi plié to apply to weight changes in center work and repertoire
- Emphasis on musicality, phrasing, performance quality.
- Beautiful lines
- ‘Eating up’ the floor and space with the feet, limbs, movement
- ‘Talking feet’
- Dancing from the heart, presentation, performance as communication
- Petit allegro in the Balanchine style
- Ballon, Grande Allegro **
- Partnering insights
** I have an acute knowledge and understanding of the timing and technique of how to achieve the highest grande allegro possible. As a professional dancer this was my forté. I had what is known as a ‘wow’ jump. I always jumped with, and even ‘outjumped’ many boys. I possess the particular ability to articulate this knowledge, and I believe every skilled dancer has the potential to achieve a ‘wow’ jump, once the technique has been explained, taught and drilled properly.