My super experience is nearly underway! Eek!
Worried I’ll be pirated-out three weeks from now?
And yet… when I got an e-mail from BBS announcing a Le Corsaire master class for adults it sounded like the perfect way to kick off the rehearsal week.
I think the master class concept for the adults is a new-ish thing on the part of BBS (at least, I hadn’t heard of them doing it before this year). I attended one in the spring for last season’s Swan Lake. It was taught by a company member (corps member Corina Gill who has since been promoted to second soloist!) and in two hours we did a traditional barre followed by an opportunity to learn some choreography.
This master class was a bit different. Though it was advertised as a link-in to the fall production, the class itself was a traditional structure with no choreography elements. I was a bit disappointed by this, though I certainly understand the challenge of trying to teach repertoire to a large group with widely-varying technical background and odd male-female ratios. The fabulous part, though, was being taught by a BB principal dancer… none other than Lasha Khozashvili.
As a side note, one of my former coworkers and I had a running disagreement over the best male BB dancer. I was camp Jeffrey, she was camp Lasha. Of course that rat Jeffrey left us for ABT which left a gaping hole in my heart. But since that time I saw a few ballets with Lasha in the lead roles and I have to say that he definitely wormed his way into my heart. While he doesn’t have the youthful bounding or exude the pure joy of dance the way Jeffrey does he has a whole other aspect of technical brilliance and his characterization… oh man. Jeffrey could make me smile, but Lasha can make me sob and that’s a whole other level of wow.
Anyway, it turns out that Mr. Khozashvili is not only a talented dancer, but an excellent teacher, as well. I’m always a bit nervous about taking class from someone I haven’t studied with before, because no matter how excellent a dancer one is, teaching requires a whole other skill set. Some people can do, but just can’t explain. That was hardly the case here. The class wasn’t too terribly difficult (it was an open class intended for all abilities), but he didn’t shy away from giving corrections, particularly about musicality and accents and coordinating the head and arms. He spent time during each exercise to give feedback on things he was seeing and offer suggestions. But he also kept a sense of humor and light-heartedness which kept class from getting all scary.
The class was followed by a half-hour Q&A time. While I think the organizers intended that the questions would focus on Le Corsaire, it ended up being more questions about Mr. Khozashvili’s ballet experience as a whole. He talked about growing up in Georgia (the country, not the state) and how he got into ballet. People always seem to ask dancers about what they eat and how they exercise outside of the studio and I had to laugh at his answers because they were so… human! He’s like, “Well, if I want a burger, then I eat a burger!” and said something along the lines of, “I don’t lift weights because I get too bulky and I spend all day lifting women anyway, so it’s not like I really need to” (except when they did Mahler’s 3rd last fall… then he took up swimming because he needed to build the stamina to get through being on stage dancing for 90% of the entire ballet).
Overall I loved not only being able to take class with such a talented pro, but also the chance to see what a kind, caring human being he is. Great way to kick off my super week(s)!