Lifelong Learner

It’s not often that I’m able to get away from from my two jobs and family to dive into some hardcore learning!  It’s a lifelong challenge.  As I take time to look back on this year, however, I am pleased to see that I actually made it to three workshops spanning my three loves … Ballet, Pilates, and Yoga.  I wanted to share a little bit of what I learned from each of those events that might resonate with you, as well.

THE FIRST WAS A YOGA WORKSHOP in Pennsylvania with Jason Crandell. The world-renowned yogi hails from San Francisco, but he knew enough about our local Eagles football team to put in a few well-placed phrases to the attendees.  It was my first official yoga workshop, and I was a bit nervous about what I might be expected to do in these very long sessions.

But Jason was cool.  An obvious seasoned professional, he had a smooth and steady pace to the practice, and a wonderful sense of humor to go along with it.  I left feeling energized and mobilized, and not crippled or sore as I was anticipating.  There were all levels, from teachers to beginners, and everyone learned something, I am sure.  Going with a couple of friends made the experience that much sweeter.


NEXT UP WAS A PILATES SPRINGBOARD WORKSHOP that I had been looking forward to since I bought a Springboard for my SteelCoreStudio.  I had done my teacher training with Ellie Herman years ago, and she had even worn one of my leotards for her manual, “Arcs and Barrels.”  She was warm and inviting to receive me again into the studio for continuing ed … and more clothes!

We huddled together in her boutique studio in Brooklyn, and I traversed the City like the old days, with my dance bag on my shoulder and my snacks and water ready for a brutal day of exercises.


The group was a cross section of former dancers, both ballet and contemporary, who were in career transition, as well as older folks who were just discovering pilates and wanting to teach.  We worked in groups, spotting each other, learning to teach and cue the exercises we had just learned, and I was struck by how now, so many years after my first training with Ellie, I had found my teacher’s voice.

I was eagerly ready to step in and offer my thoughts and corrections, even in front of Ellie.  A boy complained of pain in his knees when he executed a particular exercise, and Ellie explained that it hurt her knees, too, and so she no longer actually teaches it.  Before I knew it, I was piping up with what I’d found in my own journey to eliminate the problem.  The room got quiet and I worried I had stuck my foot in my mouth, but then the boy tried my correction and happily reported that he had no pain!  “Good cue,” Ellie said. There I go, still looking for the teacher’s approval.


FINALLY WAS MY RETURN TO THE BALLET FOLD, with the “Step by Step” workshop with Suki Schorer.  Here was the blurb about it:

“Step by Step with Suki Schorer is intended for teachers of intermediate and advanced students. Highlights of the weekend include a general presentation on Balanchine aesthetics, as well as technique and pointe classes with expanded commentary.  Schorer invites the participants to take class themselves in order to feel the differences in their own bodies; they’re also welcome to bring a student.  She’ll also teach excerpts of Balanchine choreography to illustrate how the technique can be applied.  And it gets even better: The workshop will include demonstrations by some current members of NYCB.”

PHOTO:Rosalie O’Connor


I thought EVERYBODY would be there clamering to get a spot, and yet, I was the only NYCB alumna there, so I got to relive my glory days with Suki all to myself.  I brought a student of mine to experience Suki first hand.  I was relieved to see that there was little that was unfamiliar to my student, as the smile of recognition flowed between Suki, the student, and me.  It’s an elite club, of which I am so very proud and humbled to be a member.

And so, HERE’s what I know and can leave you with:

1. Don’t be afraid to sign up for something because you think it may be over your head.  You won’t be the most experienced, but you probably won’t be the only novice.  Jump in and learn what you can.

2. Don’t be too shy to share what YOU know.  There’s a good chance that someone else doesn’t know it, too, and maybe you can put a slightly different spin on things.

3. Be GRATEFUL for the teachers you have had along your journey, and stay true to their legacy while enhancing it with your own knowledge.  They taught you because of the desire to share information, and you should be willing to do the same.


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