Princeton Ballet School's Summer Intensive Hosts Guest Teachers, Including Unity Phelan, Today
Princeton Ballet School's Summer Intensive Program will be hosting several guest teachers this year, including New York City Ballet dancer Unity Phelan. Phelan originally trained at Princeton Ballet School from 2000 to 2009, and then continued her training at the School of American Ballet, the official training academy of New York City Ballet. She became an apprentice of the company in December of 2012, and joined New York City Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet in November of 2013. This November, she will be going into her second year as a corps member. Of her time with New York City Ballet she says, "This past year has been the most inspiring and amazing year. All of the dancers and ballet masters or mistresses are so knowledgeable and brilliant. It's an amazing atmosphere to be in."
Unity Phelan will be teaching at Princeton Ballet School's Summer Intensive today, July 18th. She will be teaching ballet technique classes to all levels, in addition to variations classes. For her technique class she will be "pulling ideas and concepts from the Balanchine technique," and also plans on teaching steps she learned from Peter Martins, Kay Mazzo, Suzy Pillare, and Suki Schorer. She hopes to give the students "a taste of Balanchine." To do this, her class will consist of "precision work and focus at the barre, and moving waltzy big jumps and balance combinations in center." Working with a dancer who has performed Balanchine choreography, Princeton Ballet School Summer Intensive students will be able to experience a little of his stylized technique from someone who is currently performing these classics.
Phelan looks forward to coming back to Princeton Ballet School to teach. "I'm excited to teach at Princeton Ballet School because it is somewhere I received training for almost half of my life. Being part of what influences a student or just teaching something to a student is very rewarding." From her class, she hopes that her students take away "a little bit of the jazz and contemporary way of moving that is Balanchine technique." "For me, once I took my first class [in Balanchine technique], I was hooked," she explained. "It's just such a freeing way to move and at the same time, it's more challenging."
Phelan will be joined by many other impressive guest teachers. Another former Princeton Ballet School student, Becky Chaleff, will be teaching modern classes. Chaleff trained at Princeton Ballet School from 1991-1998. She studied at Barnard College and then at the Merce Cunningham studio in downtown Manhattan. She is currently a PhD candidate in the department of Theater and Performance Studies at Stanford University, and dances with two companies, GERALDCASELDANCE and Molissa Fenley and Company. Because Chaleff was involved in reconstructive workshops and performances with Merce Cunningham's understudy group, and has been coached by him in daily classes and rehearsals, she will be teaching Cunningham-based technique class. She plans on focusing on "the involvement of the back and spine in the technique, as well as the extension of the body through space-- in movement as well as stillness." Chaleff believes that it is important for the students of the Summer Intensive to explore dance styles other than ballet. "I always think that students will learn more about themselves and about dance in general if they expose themselves to more techniques and push themselves beyond their comfort zones," she says, "Studying Cunningham technique really changed all of the dancing that I did. It made me stronger, clearer, and more precise. These are skills that are valuable no matter what type of dancing you're doing."
In addition, Kirk Peterson will be teaching on Friday, July 11th. Peterson had a 17-year long career with American Ballet Theatre as a principal dancer, choreographer, Artistic Director of ABTII, Ballet Master, Principal Character Artist and as Master Teaching Associate. He was also a principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet, and Artistic Director of the Hartford Ballet for 5 years. He is now a guest choreographer for American Repertory Ballet. Another guest choreographer for ARB, Trinette Singleton, will be teaching at the Summer Intensive as well. Singleton was a dancer with the Joffrey ballet, Ballet Mistress/Teacher for the Joffrey Ballet, as well as Administrative Assistant to Robert Joffrey and a member of the Faculty and Advisory Board of the Joffrey Ballet School.