reviewed by Toba Singer
Several years ago, I had the pleasure of observing Yannick Boquin give company class to a major U.S. company. Two aspects of the class impressed me: the first was how he seemed to have crafted the class to permit sufficient stretching time between affiliated barre exercises, and the second was how grateful the company’s dancers were for his acute sensitivity in adapting the class to their needs, whether they issued from injuries or repertoire the company happened to be dancing. I was able to interview Boquin shortly thereafter (http://www.ballet-dance.com/200805/articles/yboquininterview20080500.html), and he mentioned that he was working on a DVD. After some false starts, the DVD has been released, and I had a chance to view it. While it took a few seconds for the audio and video to reach full registration, the excellence of the class and the surroundings in which it occurs, as well as the accompaniment, makes it a highly desirable accessory for any serious professional dancer to own. Once again, I posed a few questions to Boquin by email about “Class with Yannick Boquin.”
Was there a director, and if so, what was his or her name?
Yes, his name is Tim Couchman. He was a ballet master in Dresden.
Even though you use the term "French School" to describe your class, would you say that it's correct to classify the class as mostly Cecchetti?
To tell you the truth, I don't even know how a Cecchetti class is. I never took one and never saw one.
The only thing I can say is that I built a structure in my class corresponding to what I would have liked to have as a dancer. I built it in order to warm up the dancers before they attempt anything.
The coordination I use in my class seems to be something quite unusual when I see how much concentration it takes for dancers to assimilate it in order to execute my combinations.The petite batterie seems to be something that isn't seen much anymore as a exercise on its own. All these: temps de cuisse, glissades Bournonville that end on two feet, front, side or back, double rond de jambe, small cabrioles, brisé de volée, brisés télémaques, all the entrechats, the pas de bourrées courus, pas de bourrées dessus and dessous..... so many elements that you can mix up together to create amazing combinations with the use of the arms. The use of dynamic, slowing down of a step or marking it in order to accelerate a second later to catch up to the beat.
From all the schools I am familiar with, I would classify my class as mostly French with a very strong style of my own. The structure of my class is based 100 per cent on all the accidents I had in my career. Going back in the studio after surgeries and stopping at the time for 3 to 8 months, to come back when you couldn't follow the daily company classes, was a huge challenge and you were quite on your own, and to make it, you had to find your own way and that feeling and work never left me. At the time, it was not like today where you have private coaching, or slow classes in the morning for dancers coming from injuries. All of this is to say that my class is strongly based on my own experiences with what I remember of my French school.
Which kind of dancers (professional, students, advanced adults) do you see as the target market for the DVD?
Well, I was teaching recently at the National Ballet of Canada in Toronto, and three company dancers around 35, who are still dancing but are also starting to teach for the school, got my DVD.
I know many dancers who are using it to warm up on their days off. And I would recommend it for the highest level in a school, which is the level I teach at a conservatory or an academy.
Would you recommend that dancers page past the explanations directly to the exercises after they've viewed the DVD once, so that they can move through the class without interruption?
They could, but dancers get tired. No one would like taking class without interruption. Even if you do a barre by yourself, you still need to stop in between the exercises to, first of all, prepare your exercise, and to give your body a break.
So, let's say that once you are familiar with the DVD exercises, you could fast forward a bit past the explanations. It depends also how you want to use it. For a warm up before the show, you could even skip exercises if you already had class in the morning but on a day off, going through the DVD wouldn't be a problem. You would want to do a full barre and center, taking your time, like a daily class.
Why did you decide to use the Dresden dancers?
Because the dancers and I know each other so well, because I have taught so often at Dresden Semper Oper. Tim, the film’s director, was a ballet master for the company at the time, and the beautiful studio at the Palucca school, where we filmed, was right there, with all the facilities in one place.
Yannick Boquin trained at the Paris Opera and the National Conservatory of Paris, and was a Principal Dancer with Bonn Opera Ballet, Royal Ballet of Flanders, Rome Opera Ballet, and Deutsche Oper Berlin. He received several prizes including the Leonide Massine Award in 1995.
Boquin teaches for such companies as the Dutch National Ballet, Australian Ballet Company, Netherlands Dans Theater, Béjart Ballet Lausanne, Paris Opera, Bolshoi Finnish National Ballet, Norwegian National Ballet, Houston Ballet, Tokyo Ballet, Les Ballet de Monte-Carlo, National Ballet of Canada, Moscow Stanislavsky Theater, Dresden Semper Oper, the Cullberg Ballet, and the Royal Swedish Ballet, and the Ecôle Supérieur de Danse de Cannes Rosella Hightower.
The all-region DVD “Class with Yannick Boquin” is produced by Yumiko and is part of the Yumiko Dance Education Series. It is in English, is 1:36 long, and can be ordered from the website www.yumiko-world.com
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