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Around the world, ABT Certified Teachers are now implementing ABT’s National Training Curriculum in 50 states and 45 countries. These teachers also have the opportunity to present students for ABT Student Examinations. This past year, ABT Affiliate Examiners adjudicated over 2500 students in 12 countries including: Barbados, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, the Philippines and Switzerland. Below, these Examiners reflected on a few of these experiences and what it means for ABT’s National Training Curriculum.
ABT’s National Training Curriculum is a program for the development and training of young students that embraces sound ballet principles and incorporates elements of the French, Italian and Russian schools of training. Under the direction of ABT Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie, and Cynthia Harvey, Artistic Director of ABT’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, the Curriculum aims to assist beginning through advanced teachers in training dance students to use their bodies correctly, focusing on kinetics and coordination, as well as anatomy and proper body alignment. The ABT National Training Curriculum strives to provide dance students with a rich knowledge of classical ballet technique and the ability to adapt to all styles and techniques of dance.
This past August through December, Affiliate Examiner Amanda Paterson was given the opportunity to travel to Asia and New Zealand, to examine and teach master classes on behalf of the ABT Curriculum. The travels took her to Bella Academy(Mumbai, India), Edge ‘N Pointe Dance Center(Hong Kong), Audrey Ballet(Jakarta, Indonesia), Southpointe Dance Institute(Manila, the Philippines), and Canterbury Ballet(Christchurch, New Zealand). “What immediately struck me was the respect and care the teachers put into presenting the ABT Curriculum,” says Paterson. “In countries where ballet is beginning to make its mark, the ABT Curriculum is serving the purpose of further promoting excellence in ballet training.” Paterson says that it has been wonderful to see the ABT Curriculum being taught in all parts of the world. “It has been a brilliant experience … Not only I have been so well-taken care of, but the teachers have been most responsive to the comments and constructive suggestions that have been given. They want nothing but to improve their standard of teaching within their respective countries.”
ABT Affiliate Examiner Flavio Salazar adjudicated Student Examinations for the students of Suzanne Neumann Iglesias, director of the Danzaira Escuela de Balletin Lima, Peru, last August. According to Salazar, there are about 150 teachers who have been certified in Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Venezuela, and Argentina thanks to her bringing the teacher training courses to Lima. “During the last course that we held in Lima in January 2019, Ms. Neumann strongly recommended to the teachers to present students to the exams, because she saw that when the ABT Curriculum is implemented the results are that her students became stronger, the parents were happy to see their children committing to working well, and also because the experience helped her increase her own understanding.”
There are more than 75 ABT Certified Teachers across Italy and Switzerland, and many of them have presented students for ABT Student Examinations. ABT Affiliate Examiner Franco De Vita travelled to Evento Danza Bolzanoin Bolzano, Italy, directed by Barbara Ante, in September and to Seed Dance Studio in Lija, Malta, presented by Julie Christie Wherlock, in October. “The students were beautifully groomed and respectful and more importantly, they were very well prepared. The teachers said that the ABT Curriculum has helped them improve their teaching,” says De Vita.
ABT Affiliate Examiner Raymond Lukens reflected on his experience examining students in Switzerland presented by Julie Christie Wherlock and Viviana Molle at the Ballettschule Theater Basel, and by Alessandra Ashkenazy at Ashkenazy Ballet Centerin Lugano. “I must say that it was a pleasure to see such beautiful work and that the ABT Curriculum is having a positive impact on these teachers’ work,” says Lukens. “They were all very appreciative and clearly committed to the wellbeing of their students. Ms. Wherlock, together with Ballettschule Theater Basel Director, Amanda Bennett presented the ABT Curriculum Teacher Training Intensive in Basel. Ms. Bennett, together with Ms. Ashkenazy were instrumental in having the ABT Curriculum officially recognized by ‘Danse Swiss’, which is the organization that is authorized to bestow that recognition by the Swiss authorities.”
ABT Affiliate Examiner Dalia Rawson enjoyed seeing the passionate and disciplined students at Ballet Concierto de la Ciudad de Chihuahua, in Chihuahua, Mexico, this past September. “My experiences with their dedicated school director Paola Murga and her instructors reminded me of the joy we can all find in bringing out the best in our students,” says Rawson. “The process of presenting students for examinations, and the examination experience for the students themselves, seems to be universal. It was gratifying to see these young dancers, and those aspiring to the higher levels of the curriculum, proudly presenting their dancing, which made me proud to be part of the international ABT community.”
ABT Affiliate Examiner Harriet Clark examined the students of Pearls Dance Academy in St. Michael, Barbados, directed by Pearl Ann Hinds in April. “It was such a rewarding experience,” says Clark. “Ms. Hinds is working very hard to build a strong classical ballet training program in Barbados, and the support of the parents and the community was overwhelming. The studio was a warm nurturing environment and the students embraced and demonstrated a good understanding of the material.”