Balancing technique with artistry

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Guy Wheatstone with Qld Academy student, Jasper.
Guy Wheatstone with Qld Academy student, Jasper.

Guy Wheatstone is Guest Academy Program Coordinator and Academy Teacher at Queensland Ballet Academy.

How do you balance the importance of technique with the importance of artistry in your students?

Two things that I have found can quickly bring life to a technically strong dancer is directing focus to how they can use their eyes in a way that catches the audience’s attention, and emphasising those details in class exercises. I also try to highlight different qualities within the music and get them to find ways to reflect the music in their movement. I have found that including musicality and stagecraft in a dancer’s technique training provides a good framework for developing artistry.

What has changed since you were a student?

During my training, I feel I didn’t always know why things were done a certain way, so I think it’s important the dancers know that many of the things we do at the barre are building foundations for more advanced steps later.

I try to focus not just on how steps are executed but why. I also encourage curiosity in each student and encourage them to ask questions as they come to mind. I believe this gives my students a sense of the “big picture” and how all their training pieces together.

This article is just one of a suite of teacher interviews in our Focus on Teaching special issue of Dance Australia (Oct/Nov/Dec 2021). Did you miss it? Subscribe and never miss an issue!

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