Ballet is a mysterious art form. Kept hidden away from the masses, out of sight from every day living, caught only for the briefest of moments on the illuminated stage, awash with the lights of idealized humanity.
To see a ballerina in the regular hum of fluorescent lights in the mundane world seems like an alien sighting. She is a rare creature thought not to exist but in the recesses of imagination and story books.
It is this quality that is our greatest gift as an art, however, in the world of today it is proving to be our greatest downfall. All too often this illusory quality seems out of reach, elite, untouchable and unobtainable. The light has started to dwindle from the craft as fewer and fewer people believe in the spiritual magic of ballet. People have lost the hope that ballet is something that is alive within them. Something that they too can cultivate, embody and become.
Ballet is its people.
To me this is because ballet is not a portfolio of items or words that can be collected and harbored in people's homes or within the walls of the great museums. Ballet is its people. When the people die, the link to history dies. When the history dies the art dies for there is no longer the connection to the legacy which informs us of its depth, purpose and validity.
As Jennifer Homans says in her book Apollo's Angels "Ballet repertory is not recorded in books or libraries: it is held instead in the bodies of dancers." It is no accident that when joining the ranks of a professional company you enter in the "apprentice" level. It is a craft where you truly must apprentice yourself to learn from a master. You learn your field through trial and error until on day you earn the privilege to pass along your experience to the next generation.
Even with the advancements in technology one still cannot grasp the spirit of the dance. You can learn steps from any video, but to understand the essence of choreography, the voice, and the soul, you need a human. As Homans continues"...ballet is an art of memory, not history...ballet companies even appoint special 'memorizers'—dancers whose prodigious memory sets them apart from their peers—to store its works...in their limbs..."
In an era that is distinctly different from the times of old there is a need for a concentrated group of unique individuals who will be the ones to pick up the dwindling torch of ballet legacy, nurture the flame, restore the luminosity of the field, and pass it onto others who are seeking.
This is why I and Fleur-De-Lis Academy of Ballet are so very proud to introduce to you its newest division: The Fleur-De-Lis Teaching Academy of Ballet Instructors (TABI). It is a program specifically created with the intent to restore respect to the art of teaching in a field whose survival is based solely on those who are willing to serve of the art.
Our carefully selected TABI teachers in training will study not just ballet, but all of the academic requirements to be a well rounded teacher, individual and citizen of the planet. They will be charged with the duty to maintain clear technical standards through seeing their student's greatness and potential thus upholding the Fleur values of cherishing a student's mental, emotional and physical well-being. They will travel the world to connect with sister cities and companies as well as experience deep interpersonal and leadership training. From these experiences they will learn first hand how to nurture the spirit and mind of students of all ages, backgrounds and skill level.
And so, it is my distinct pleasure to introduce to you the graduating class of the Fleur-De-Lis Teaching Academy of Ballet Instructors of 2020! They are the ground breakers and the pioneers of this program. They have earned their place in this class through their dancing, their progress and their passion. Most importantly they have earned their place in this legacy through their hearts demonstrating a clear commitment to the well being of their peers through service, education and inspiration.
Quetzal Velasco and Rio Velasco, congratulations!