“Who is the captain of your ship?”
Fresh-faced ballet students raise their hands in answer to Eileen Juric’s question. WE ARE!
Likewise, in her BalletBarreNone 3-part video series called The Children’s Hour of Power, Juric encourages teaching professionals like you to take ownership and responsibility for not only instructing but inspiring the development of your youngest students.
The Joffrey Connection
Juric’s Hour of Power is a curriculum based on the pre-ballet syllabus created by Dorothy Lister for the Joffrey Ballet School. In use for over 25 years at the school, Lister’s syllabus is a time-tested method of working with children that emphasizes correct, yet age-appropriate, technique.
Specific not stifling
Three DVDs cover curriculum for three different age groups. When viewed as a set, the viewer witnesses the progressive layering of a foundational curriculum for 3-5 year old, 5-7 year-old, and 7-9 year-old dancers. Through the series, Juric wants to help teachers strike a balance between the recreational and the “stifling, too-much, too-soon” approach to ballet instruction. She focuses on getting “IT” right from the start.
Though the sound and video are not pristine quality, these DVD’s really do have IT where it counts!
The BalletBarreNone: Children’s Hour of Power DVD series provides an enormous amount of material and strategies from which to draw for your own classes. The method doesn’t slack on the nitty gritty of ballet, even for the youngest of age groups, and Juric demonstrates direction that is specific and technical, maintaining high expectations of young dancers to maximize their potential.
But it’s fun!
In addition to modeling her unique teaching style and methods in a classroom setting with actual students, Juric proves that ballet does NOT have to be boring.
To keep children focused on detailed work is no small task. I speak from experience.
It helps to have the kind of wisecracking delivery that Juric has clearly perfected. Her repertoire of in-class catchphrases roll effortlessly off her tongue as she demonstrates masterful command of a classroom and firm yet gentle discipline.
There’s “always time for a hug,” in Juric’s class but children get down to business.
In all three DVDs, Juric’s students are given fundamental skills that clearly form the basis for things to come. Shifting her attention occasionally to the camera, Juric connects these dots for teachers, explaining the hows and whys of her methods. When Juric is not speaking directly to the viewer, subtitles provide these valuable ‘teaching moments’ instead.
Watching her work, you can see how Juric helps her dancers arrive at a technical skill that lives up to the potential and expectations for a particular age or level of dancer. Her language during class is wisely chosen. By calling her dancers’ implementation of technique “respectable,” she implies that there is always somewhere to go next.
In fact, words are essential to Juric’s instructional strategy. She applies authentic ballet vocabulary, however, Juric has added to this lexicon a series of rhyming quips that make certain elements of technique memorable for students.
“Awareness of the Squareness,” “It’s not the location, but the rotation”
Most of the entries in Juric’s “Quiptionary” are delivered in a kind of call and response, creating a culture of interaction within the classroom that is key to keeping students invested in the process (not just the product) of their dance experience.
Until the body matures, less is more.
Juric’s is a systematic “less is more”… or, less is more fun start to ballet instruction.
Dancers do not move forward until the foundation for movement has been firmly laid and cemented. But don’t think for a second that this means standing at the barre doing plié for an hour.
Like a certain spaghetti sauce, “It’s in there.” All of it!
- Isolations: check!
- Imagination: check!
- Rhythm and musicality: check!
- Individual attention and correction: check!
- Feeling, not just thinking: check!
- Whole body coordination and integration: check!
- Alignment “inventory”: check!
No moment is wasted in a class packed with laser-focused objectives!
Juric applies the no-moment-wasted maxim to her classes AND the 5 1/2 hours worth of DVD material.
You’ll want to watch again and again to capture all of the valuable nuggets of wisdom offered. Have a pen and note-pad at the ready.
Many dancers who begin early will drop out of ballet by the time they reach puberty. If you’ve struggled with or want to ensure that you are retaining young students as they get older, I recommend these DVDs.
You’ll learn ways to make technique count and teach it correctly while keeping class fun for children aged 3-9 with a curriculum and delivery-style that is engaging and purposeful.
Nichelle Suzanne is a writer specializing in dance and online content. She is also a dance instructor with over 20 years experience teaching in dance studios, community programs, and colleges. She began Dance Advantage in 2008, equipped with a passion for movement education and an intuitive sense that a blog could bring dancers together. As a Houston-based dance writer, Nichelle covers dance performance for Dance Source Houston, Arts+Culture Texas, and other publications. She is a leader in social media within the dance community and has presented on blogging for dance organizations, including Dance/USA. Nichelle provides web consulting and writing services for dancers, dance schools and studios, and those beyond the dance world. Read Nichelle’s posts.