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Blast from class.

Attitude! Eight Young Dancers Come of Age at The Ailey School

Katharine Davis Fishman. Tarcher, NY. 2004. 285 pages, hardcover, $23.95.

The "Supremes" have it. Three girls, nicknamed by their peers after the famous trio of singers, are among the eight teenagers whose lives are profiled in this new book. From September 2001 to June 2002 Katharine Davis Fishman followed these students in class, at home, and in performance, to try and discover the mystical quality--the "attitude" that drives them to dance and defines their talent. The students are articulate and open as they face real disappointments--losing a parent, not getting cast, gaining weight--and the rewards of being part of a select few at one of the best dance schools in the country. The Ailey School environment is strict and competitive, and the faculty is demanding. Fishman's interviews, particularly with school director Denise Jefferson, are candid assessments of the sacrifices it takes to succeed in a dance career. One of the best moments comes as Dwana Smallwood, a dancer in the Alley company, helps choreograph a solo for Brian Brown, one of Fishman's subjects. The author beautifully captures the way Smallwood, who was coached by Judith Jamison, passes on Alvin Alley's legacy to a new generation of young dancers.--JULIE BLOOM

The Finis Jhung Ballet Technique

Package of five instructional DVDs and four New Ballet Music CDs. Ballet Dynamics, New York, $295. www.fjballet.com.

If you let the neck come forward, it causes the shoulders to round," says master teacher Finis Jhung. "Collapsed shoulders are not a result of poor back alignment, but of how a dancer holds her neck." This is an example of Jhung's approach to teaching: a simple explanation, but one that offers a new way to think about movement. With his collection of five DVDs and four ballet music CDs, Jhung delivers a full course of dance instruction, useful to students as a compliment to studio classes, and to educators as a teaching syllabus. The set offers centerwork and barrework for a range of levels, from the complete novice to the advanced student. Before every exercise, demonstrated by Murray Spalding Movement Arts' Jennifer Harmer, ABT's Kelley Waddell, or NYCB's Glenn Keenan, Jhung steps in front of the camera and talks through the movement, explaining it from a refreshingly organic and academic perspective. Compared to more dynamic at-home fitness videos, you may find Jhung's pacing a bit slow. But this is ballet, not Jazzercize, and the instruction is thoughtful and solid. From describing the perfect tendu to an innovative way to find your appropriate level of turnout, Jhung's instruction is gleaned from his performance career with the San Francisco Ballet, the Jeffrey Ballet, and the Harkness Ballet of New York. The currently teaches at Steps on Broadway in New York City.--ELENA NORTH-KELLY

The Complete Guide to Teaching Dance: An Insider's Secrets to Personal Reward and Financial Success

Rhee Gold. Norton, MA: Gold Standard Press. 2004. 208 pages, hardcover, $39.99.

Teachers today need to realize that success doesn't come from awards or accolades, or the size of their school's enrollment. It comes from the knowledge that they have made a difference in the lives of the children they teach." --RHEE GOLD

Written for private dance school directors, Rhee Gold's The Complete Guide to Teaching Dance is part motivational inspiration and part practical advice gained through the former DM columnist's personal experience as a school and competition director. From building confidence and setting goals, to dealing diplomatically with parents and managing studio finances, Gold has been there. He understands how the same passion and drive that are key to success as a teacher can lead to stress and burnout, and addresses a chapter to balancing the multiple demands on time and energy. Dance teachers will recognize themselves and their colleagues in the many anecdotes that pepper the Guide's pages, and both new and veteran studio owners can benefit from his nuts and bolts approach. Included is a helpful appendix (and CD) of sample forms and templates.--KAREN HILDEBRAND
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Title Annotation:Gift picks: latest releases in DVDs, videos & books
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 1, 2004
Words:673
Previous Article:Blast from the present.
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