Monday, August 13, 2012

Congratulations to Renée Nicholson

Congratulations to Renée Nicholson, who is now certified in all levels of the American Ballet Theatre's curriculum!

To complete the eight levels of training, Renée attended three separate training sessions at ABT in New York City. Each session consumed eight hours a day over the course of a week to ten days."I took written and oral exams, and each level was cumulative, meaning I had to know all the material from the past levels and also the material for new levels," Renée said. "The exams have written and oral components, and the oral component includes both demonstration as well as using the curriculum to correct students.

"My classmates included ABT company members, both past and present, former Kirov dancers, former New York City Ballet Dancers, as well as former dancers and teachers from most of the major schools around the U.S. and several other countries, including The Netherlands, Austria, and Italy."

As part of her exam, Renée had to write about dance and the teaching of dance. Like the editors of the numerous literary journals where her fiction, creative nonfiction, and poems have appeared, the ABT judges were impressed.

"My final oral exam was an hour long and exceptionally comprehensive in terms of technique," Renée reported. "At one point, I had to demonstrate the differences in the carriage of the upper body in the French, Italian (Cecchetti), and Russian (Vaganova) schools. We also covered the Balanchine style and Bournonville (Royal Danish) styles.

"The imperfect analogy I make about what you have to know to pass these exams is this: Imagine looking at a paragraph from a major author—like Chekhov or Faulkner—and then analyzing that paragraph, illustrating how it came to be in existence from the time the writer learned to write, through all his schooling, through the drafts, to the published piece, with a healthy dose of discussion of style and influences."

In addition to her great work for the West Virginia Writers' Workshop and the Department of English, Renée is a part-time lecturer in dance in WVU's School of Theatre and Dance.

About her recent experience at ABT, Renée said, "Now I suppose I can get to work writing an essay about it, right?"


Congratulations, Renée!

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