Former star of The Royal Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, Cynthia Harvey, has been in School this week teaching students from Year 9 through to our graduate year.
Cynthia trained at the Novato School of Dance in Northern California before starting a distinguished career, during which she danced all the major Principal roles – notably partnering with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Anthony Dowell.
We caught up with Cynthia between class to put some questions to her:
What have you most enjoyed about your fortnight teaching at the School?
‘To come to a school where the standard and integrity is so high is always a pleasure.’
What is your approach when you’re teaching students for such a short period of time?
‘I don’t know these students, so I can’t approach it in the same way I would when teaching my regular students. I try to give a ‘dancey’ class, get everyone moving so I can see what people’s capabilities are and I can then adjust my lesson to that. I like to focus on breathing, coordination and musicality, and I like to get them using their backs.’
What do you think the benefit is for students to get taught by guest teachers?
‘Not every child in the School will end up in a job at The Royal Ballet, they will be going to companies all over the world. So while their training is in the English style they have to learn to adapt to other styles of movement. Even from a young age, introducing them to different styles is hugely beneficial.’
What was your own training like?
‘I trained at a small studio in Northern California and was taught in a range of styles and techniques from Vaganova to Cecchetti.’
What have been your career highlights?
‘One of the biggest influences on my career was Anthony Dowell who came to dance with American Ballet Theatre while I was there and he made a huge impression on me.
‘He subsequently chose me for The Royal Ballet, where I danced for two years. In fact I danced my first full length ballet, Don Quixote, with Anthony Dowell. That wasn’t just a career highlight, it remains a high point in my life.’
What advice would you give aspiring young dancers?
‘I always tell them to keep their minds open and learn as much as they can about all artforms, so it can inform their dancing.’
Cynthia’s guest visit to the School was generously sponsored by Christopher Gorman-Evans, who himself visited the School this week to watch her teaching some of our older students. Find out more about our Guest Teacher sponsorship programme.