In the Classroom: American Ballet Theatre 2024

Students in the LIHSA dance program have been privileged to work with American Ballet Theatre (ABT) for more than five years under the direction of Richard Toda (Artistic Manager, ABT Engagement) and instructors Wendy Clark and Stephen Campanella. ABT is an internationally celebrated cultural institution dedicated to preserving and extending the legacy of classical dancing.

With the continued help of ABT in the spring semester, students will work towards honing their crafts as they prepare pieces for the spring festival, which aims to highlight their class strengths. “This year in particular they did a really good job with connecting the information I give them with their home studios,” says Clark, reflecting on 23-24 school year. “They are figuring out the whys and hows of what they are doing. They’re doing a lot better understanding the reason for applying technical principles so that they are less injury prone.”

Clark is connecting students’ current unit to anatomy. Students study how they use their feet to stand and how that affects turnout and using a neutral pelvis. “They are very hard working this year; students are especially focused and it’s really nice to see that if I give them information they apply it,” she says. “Repetition is the key in ballet, and if they are being intentional with what they are doing they are going to be more successful.”

“I’ve been working with ABT for three years and getting to learn different styles from Stephen was so beneficial to me,” says Ainsley Waite, a junior in the dance program. “He teaches character dance. When I started transitioning into jazz, contemporary, and musical theatre classes, I was so much more comfortable. Wendy gives the best corrections. When I go back to my home studio I think about her corrections and I have improved so much from them! I know that ABT is one of the best in the nation for ballet training. They have so much knowledge and they want us to get better. I think it’s amazing that they can come to LIHSA and do this real-world training for us!”