Have you ever wondered how Baryshnikov was made? Here's the real deal.
What if every question you ever had about teaching classical ballet was answered, simply by having access to the correct information?
Enter: The True Method Teacher's Course™
The world is drowning in a sea of misinformation about what classical ballet is and the correct way to teach it. There are whole online forums dedicated to discussing how to teach ballet, where if you ask any given teacher for their opinion about something as basic as the correct execution of plié, the answers will greatly differ from teacher to teacher.
That's a HUGE PROBLEM because the goal of the classical ballet artist is to achieve mastery over a highly specific, codified set of movements. These traditions are important to preserve because this is what makes ballet "classical"–this is what sets ballet apart from any other dance form–and, consequently, this is why ballet is known for being the foundation of all dance. So when two teachers disagree about the vocabulary, well... they can't both be right!
Furthermore, when injuries are running rampant, how are teachers supposed to know how to protect their students when all the information is contradictory?
THERE IS ONE SIMPLE ANSWER TO THIS PROBLEM...
In an interview on his Late Show, David Letterman asked Natalia Makarova (former prima ballerina of the Kirov, called “the finest ballerina of her generation in the West”): "What is the relationship between ballet and Russia?" She replied, “The same.” Indeed, ballet and Russia are inseparable, and this is largely due to the life of one woman: Agrippina Vaganova.
The world-famous and ground-breaking Russian pedagogue, Agrippina Vaganova, recognized that, as a teacher, simply following what your own teacher did before you is just not good enough. In order to achieve the best and the healthiest results for their students,
Teachers need a codified system for training that actually works.
Fortunately for us, Vaganova pioneered the first teaching method to be based on physiological principals, combining the best of the French and the Italian schools. She was the first to analyze the allegro–the most difficult steps in the classical repertoire, contained in the Grand Pas de Deux (a "choreographic poem in four parts")–in order to derive teaching method (before, the easier adagio was analyzed to derive teaching method). Vaganova's students, and the countless students of her pedagogical pupils, have proven the effectiveness of this teaching method, time and time again.
Here's why teaching method is your blueprint for creating the Classical Dance Artist:
"Classical means perfection."
A recent study showed that, on average, 50% of pre-professional ballet dancers are injured each year.*
75% of injuries are atraumatic and due to overuse. In other words, these are mostly academic injuries.
THIS SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN, EVER.
Vera Kostrovitskaya–Vaganova's first assistant for nearly 3 decades, and the one who further detailed and completed her work to create the first and only teaching method entirely based on physiological, as well as aesthetic, principles–stated:
"It is insufficient instruction which produces injuries."
The big problem, especially in this country, is that most teachers have not studied teaching method at all. The few who have studied teaching method have either studied something else (such as RAD, Cecchetti, and other such methods, none of which are completely up-to-date and scientifically based), or have only been exposed to tiny bits and pieces of this method... They have not had access to this pure and complete information passed down to us from Kostrovitskaya to her protégé in the West, John Barker.
If they only had this knowledge, then there would be no academic injuries because, when implemented correctly,
The Teaching Method of Classical Dance is designed to prevent injuries before they even occur! (And we can prove it.)
Why The True Method™
Yeah, yeah, you've heard it before... There are so many teachers and programs claiming to teach the "Vaganova Method" (which is not even what it is properly called, by the way... this misunderstanding is a result of the mistranslation of the title of her book into English).
But you can smell that something just 'aint right. Especially when teachers all disagree about what this system is, how can you tell who really knows the truth?
The sad fact of the matter is, most people are confused the heck out. Some people go to Russia to take a brief course for International students and receive a certification, which honestly is inadequate: these kinds of courses are purely an introduction to the syllabus and not nearly a complete education on how to teach, which is what is needed in order to utilize this system properly. Some people have had access to this information, yet choose to mess with it by "making it their own." What's even sadder, even though they still offer better schooling than the rest of us who have ZERO method,
THE RUSSIANS THEMSELVES HAVE FORGOTTEN THE DETAILS!!!!!
As the late world-famous dance critic, Clive Barnes, said: “Russia has forgotten more than we ever knew." In recent years (since the late 60's to be exact), the Vaganova Ballet Academy began adopting other “methods” (experimental ideas, really) which were already tried in Russia before, mostly by amateur teachers, and which were shown to fail… How confusing for the rest of us, who already know so little about it!
What makes our pedagogical program entirely unique is that we guarantee that what you learn is NOT an imitation, an alteration or even an incomplete picture of The Teaching Method of Classical Dance.
That’s because our courses are taught by Professor Emeritus Peggy Willis-Aarnio, the pedagogical pupil of John Barker–the principal pedagogical student of Vera Kostrovitskaya, and the recipient of Vaganova’s legacy in the West. For Barker alone, Kostrovitskaya wrote a much more detailed version of the syllabus than even what was published in her book, School of Classical Dance (you receive a copy of this when you take The True Method Teacher's Course™; this more detailed version of the syllabus is unavailable for purchase anywhere, even in Russia).
In addition to explaining the syllabus in detail, Kostrovitskaya also taught Barker all of the hundreds of rules and thousands of details which comprise the method. When these details are lost, the syllabus loses it’s true meaning. Think of the syllabus as a well-charted map, but the details of teaching method are like the compass: as many of us who have attempted to teach with only this resource have come to realize, the syllabus without direction is useless to get a person from Point A to Point B!
In addition to being in the direct pedagogical lineage with Vaganova, Prof. Willis-Aarnio is also the first and only American certified by the Head of the Methodology Department at the Vaganova Academy–Valentina Roumiantseva (a student of Vaganova)–as a “teacher of teachers”, the highest qualification given to a teacher of classical dance. She has committed the past 40 years of her life to transmitting and passing on this complete, pure and unaltered method, and has shown through the success of her students–and through her own success as a prolific choreographer–that this method really works when it is followed precisely. All of these details of how to teach and why are traditionally passed from teacher to teacher, as Prof. Willis-Aarnio will personally pass them on to YOU.
Could you be the next keeper of the flame?
The Teaching Method of Classical Dance was not created for Russia alone, but was meant to be the Universal method for training classical artists. In fact, it was Vaganova’s heartfelt wish that teacher’s congresses would someday be held all over the world.Today, Vaganova’s wish has been made a reality through the comprehensive work of Professor Emeritus, Peggy Willis-Aarnio, and, most recently, through the power of the Internet to conduct teaching sessions, for the first time enabling anyone from virtually anywhere in the world to attend!
Interested in joining the movement? Enter your name and e-mail to receive news the minute The True Method Teacher's Course™ is available!
The 17th Annual International Classical Ballet Teacher's Congress
Taught by Professor Emeritus, Peggy Willis-Aarnio
Sponsored by Sharon Steele and Harmonic Motion School of Classical Ballet
(Attend online or in situ, LIVE from Rockwall, TX)
About Professor Emeritus
Peggy Willis-Aarnio is Professor Emeritus and on the Graduate Faculty at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. She is an authority on Russian Classical Ballet and an internationally recognized dance historian, author, choreographer and teacher of teachers. As well as conducting activities throughout the year, she also hosts an International teacher's congress and student ballet workshop and is the first leading authority to conduct online teaching sessions, for the first time enabling anyone from virtually anywhere in the world to attend!
As one of the most dedicated students of Mr. John Barker, Peggy Willis-Aarnio became the “transmitter” of this invaluable information. After completing his courses many times over, Prof. Willis-Aarnio was discovered by the legendary prima ballerina of the Kirov Ballet, Galina Mezentseva, as one of the few teachers still alive today who understand this teaching method. Mezentseva was so impressed by the depth of Prof. Willis-Aarnio’s knowledge of this exact training, which she had received herself during her days as a student, that she got Prof. Willis-Aarnio an invitation to the Vaganova Academy in Saint Petersburg to obtain her qualification as a “teacher of teachers”, the highest qualification for a teacher of classical dance (1992, endorsed by Valentina Roumiantseva, head of the methodology department).
She is also the first American to choreograph new classical ballet works for major Russian ballet companies. Prof. Willis-Aarnio’s original choreography has been seen in over 400 cities in North America, including Mexico, Costa Rica, Canada, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico, and in Europe, including Russia and Malta.
Prof. Willis-Aarnio is author of the educational video series, The Classical Ballet Lesson, demonstrated by long-time prima ballerina of the Kirov Ballet, Galina Mezentseva. She is the director and author of two CD sets, Music for the Classical Ballet Lesson (Series I and Series II) and author of the historical book, Agrippina Vaganova (1879-1951): Her Place in the History of Ballet and Her Impact on the Future of Classical Dance (published in 2002 by Edwin Mellen Press, NY). She is now writing a new series of educational books for teachers, entitled How to Teach Classical Ballet. With her husband, Paul Aarnio, she is co-owner and founder of the Willis Conservatory of Classical Ballet in Panama City Beach, Florida.
Prof. Willis-Aarnio’s work over the past 40 years–through her teaching of thousands of students, her educational products and her international teacher’s congresses–has done much to prevent this precious information from becoming forgotten. Her life's work is doing everything in her power to carry on the proven procedure Vaganova began, which was Kostrovitskaya’s great wish before her passing. It was also Vaganova’s own wish for there to be teaching congresses held all over the world, and that wish has now come true through Prof. Willis-Aarnio’s pioneering online teacher’s courses!
Endorsement by Vera Krasovskaya, the late internationally recognized ballet critic, historian, and writer on classical ballet, considered by many dance scholars to be the foremost authority on all aspects of Russian classical ballet.
A Clear Pathway for Building a Solid School
Say "bye bye" mysteries, and "hello" to raving students, parents & audiences!
Endorsement by Galina Mezentseva
Enrolling now for 2nd, 3rd & 4th Class!
Enrollment in 1st Class of The 17th Annual International Classical Ballet Teacher's Congress is now closed (course now in progress), but if you have already taken 1st Class during a previous congress, we are opening up enrollment for 2nd, 3rd and 4th Class!
If you are interested in enrolling in 2nd, 3rd or 4th Class, please enter your name and e-mail to send us a message below.
Thanks for your submission!
Wondering how these courses work, whether this is the right course for you, how much it costs, how to attend, or you are just plain confused?
Click here for more info.