For the past four summers I’ve taught yoga to young dancers from around the world who attend The Los Angeles Ballet Summer Intensive (L.A.B.S.I.) to study with Colleen Neary and Thordal Christensen and other world-renowned teachers. The irony is that although I seriously studied to be a dancer when I was younger and never made it into any companies, I’m now on the faculty of the L.A.B.S.I. and teach yoga to dancers and feel very gratified to have this opportunity.
Although many of the students are in their teens, some of them are already in the company as trainees. A few are even home-schooled or have taken their High School Equivalency exams. Younger students up to 12 yrs. old enrolled in the summer program have been successfully taught by Amy Rose Stabley for approximately three years. During this time, I’ve been able to see many students evolve, grow and move on to become talented professional dancers. For example, Eric Christenson who was a slight, ambitious 12-year-old when I first starting teaching there, has now grown up to be dashing, “princely” and over six feet tall!
Teaching yoga to flexible students with sophisticated body awareness is extremely challenging, on a fundamental level they are beginners, with little knowledge of yoga technique, but on another level, they are advanced and as accomplished as professional athletes. They can easily put themselves into complex poses such as: Eka Pada Rajakpotasana, Kurmasana, Urdhva Dhanurasana with little effort, yet, not be aware of alignment, the subtle nuances, or the intention of the pose. Ultimately, my goal is to teach them the more subtle aspects of yoga, provide guidance with injury management, and help them to relax after a long week of rehearsals and classes.
At the end of the summer session there is final program. I sit with the parents and friends that come to watch every year and feel proud as I watch the students perform, solos, duets, and various ensemble pieces. I also think that whether or not they pursue dance careers, this is a positive and culturally enriching way for young people to spend their summers.