In our thirty second snack you can taste the passion, experiences and ideas of ballet teacher and former ballet dancer Michael Raynaud.
Can you briefly tell who you are and what’s your background in dance?
After studying ballet in France at the Paris Opera Ballet School for six years and the National Conservatoire for two, I moved to London to join English National Ballet where I danced for ten years, touring and performing many soloists roles in the Repertoire. Upon retiring from dancing I retrained in a completely different field, but I was pulled back to ballet and teaching by life circumstances. I cannot nowadays imagine doing anything else than transmitting my passion for ballet to my students.
Have you followed a dance teacher training? If so, where and what are your specializations?
I have done the Professional Dancers Teaching Diploma from the Royal Academy of Dance. It’s a fast tracked program specially designed for retiring dancers with a certain amount of stage and professional experience. It covers all the main aspects of teaching, from psychology to feedback and teaching strategies, as well as planning and notation .
What’s your motivation to teach classical ballet?
After being in ballet since the age of 7, this artform becomes an integral part of you, as well the discipline and the physicality, and it translates into wanting to pass on your knowledge to future generation. I want Classical Ballet to live on, adapt to changing times but stay faithful to its origin.
What are your personal goals as a teacher?
The success and happiness of my students. We don’t only form ballet students, we have to form human beings with strong values ready to face the challenges of life, regardless of which paths they follow.
What do you want to achieve with your students in this school year?
With the younger ones I want to achieve solid foundations on which to build on their technique in the years to come, I also want them to become curious and knowledgeable about dance in general . I encourage them to watch a lot of videos of dancers, make notes of the artist, composer, choreographer, style etc .
For the older students, I want to keep them motivated and hungry to learn more and more. Some ages can be difficult with changes in the mind and body. I will also guide them towards making the right choices for their future, like which auditions or companies can they go for.
What’s a good teacher in your opinion and why?
Students first! That would be my first observation. Second, I always try to think about all the different teachers I had through my childhood and later as a professional. The ones I remember fondly and am most grateful for are those who were generous in their teaching and time, precise in their corrections and feedback, tough but also human and sometimes funny, who were sharing their own stories and experiences.
Which dance subjects / disciplines beside classical ballet do you think a ballet student needs to become a better dancer?
Too often I meet students with little to no knowledge of the Repertoire. I think Ballet History is a major subject to be studied . Nowadays with internet it is so easy to research ballet videos, information on choreographers and dancers. Ballet History is not knowing who’s who on Instagram.
For example a past student thought Balanchine was a brand of ballet shoes…
Music studies is also important and I think anatomy is also beneficial for students to know how muscles work, understand how to avoid injuries, and simply make sense of what the incredible machine that is the human body is doing wen you’re dancing .
On top of that any genres of dancing could be beneficial to develop an understanding of styles, help with coordination and musicality.
About what do you think when you read the title ‘Ballet recipes – The ingredients of classic ballet technique’?
Being French I think about food lol, but being a ballet teacher I think of the endless information you receive in class and all the little things you have to add to make a step correct and look good, like in a recipe.
How classical ballet teachers can increase the involvement of their students in class and / or classical ballet in general?
Teachers can help by introducing the students to new information everyday, like a show they went to watch, like a documentary they just saw . It is important to always ask the opinion of the student and encourage them to have a conversation. Also do not overload the students otherwise they go the opposite way, make them want more.
What is your favorite ballet company and who is/are your favorite dancer/dancers? And why?
That is a difficult question, there are so many ballet companies that offer some very different things, Repertoire, style etc I don’t think I can choose one in particular. For dancers it is the same . I love Fernando Bujones who I think was way ahead of his time with incredible lines and technique, David Wall for his partnering skills and incredible personality on stage, Marianella Nunez for showing how to combine and amazing technique with beautiful performance qualities … the list is long!
Who do you recommend to ask for a next interview for the ‘snacks ’of Ballet Recipes? And which question you would like to ask to this person?
I live that for you to decide . Variety is key!
Would you like to add something else? If yes, tell!
I think I’ve said enough although if there’s anything else anyone wants to chat about let me know !