Friday, January 7, 2011

An Interview with Jose Traba

Peridance's, Jose Traba began teaching while his performing career was still in full force. For Jose, teaching has always been a natural extension of his dance career and is now his number one priority. I spoke to Jose to learn a little more about this dedicated ballet teacher. Here is what he had to say:

What is your background?

I was born in Havana, Cuba, but I grew up in New York City and I have lived here with the exception of about twenty years I spent touring various places. After touring, I returned to New York to take a position dancing with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, one of my most enjoyable jobs.

How did you transition to teaching?

I had already started teaching while I was still performing because I thought it was important to begin the transition early and it really was a natural extension of my career. After I had a huge injury I gradually began teaching more and more.

How is it teaching open classes?

It is important to realize as the teacher, 90 percent of the time your students expect you to bring the energy to the room. It is part of the job to posses this energy and share it with your dancers. Since I am not teaching in a conservator setting, most of my students are dancing recreationally. This means I have to make class fun and enjoyable for them and also I have to be more flexible in the class I am giving. Yet, I find that even more serious students would benefit from loosening up in class. Fear and tension are enemies to every dancer’s training, so letting go a little is the best way to let the information into your mind.

What do you do in addition to teaching at Peridance?

I guest teach, I have worked the convention circuit, I am a certified fitness instructor, and I teach at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. I have been both a teacher and a judge for Dance Educators of America. At these conventions you teach one-hour classes for five to six hours straight. It is quite a grueling day for the kids and the teachers. Teaching the conventions has been an education for me because kids come from all walks of life and dance backgrounds.

What is your class at the Harkness Center?

At Harkness, I teach a class for dancers that is half-and-half, fitness training and ballet. The class begins with the fitness portion focusing on core strength through exercises from Pilates and yoga. In the second half the students apply what they worked on to classical ballet. I think this is important because they can make a direct connection between the more targeted training of muscles and their ballet practice.

Are you working on any choreography right now?

I do choreograph, but my first focus is really teaching. I do choreography upon request for companies, schools, and individuals and have very much enjoyed the process and the end products I have created. Recently I have created pieces for students of mine who are going to competitions like Varna in Bulgaria. I also do one-on-one coaching for dancers who are about to go away as guest artists.

Jose teaches:

Advanced Beginner Tuesdays, Thursdays, & Fridays, 2:30pm-4:00pm

Beginner Saturdays, 6:30pm-8:00pm

For more information on Jose's classes or Peridance click here.

Please feel free to leave any comments or questions you might have.

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