In an article published in The Telegraph last month, world famous prima ballerina Diana Vishneva described young dancers today as “weaker, less prepared even than our graduation class [from the Vaganova Ballet Academy of St. Petersburg in 1995]. “Maybe now children are happier. There is not so much shouting and demands—but probably this is a reason as well. When I was at school, I was taught not to spare myself, to give everything I had.” Vishneva also says the Internet leads dancers to distraction and a lack of dedication.
The World Dances was asked, via Twitter, if we have any positive feedback to counter Vishneva’s critique. Indeed we do! While dedication and discipline are clearly crucial characteristics for any dancer, we see ample evidence of those and other vital signs of artistic striving. For example, the Harlequinn Floors Scholarship Contest features young dancers with extremely refined technical abilities and—arguably more importantly—the drive and sensitivity to use their talents to express concerns about social justice. Seeing young dancers who are developing creative voices in addition to technical excellence is truly an inspiration.
Francisco Gella, a master teacher who works with nearly 15,000 dance students a year between convention, conservatory, high school, and studio classes, says honesty between dance teachers and students draws out the best efforts from dancers. “I make classes more challenging, and tell the students that I’m doing this because I trust them. What always happens when I tell them this is that they work harder and rise to the challenge. The lesson? Trust the students and they will trust in, and grow, their own capacity. With proper information and coaching, anything is possible.”