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May 19, 2020

This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra speaks with Darla Hoover, who is currently the Artistic Director of both the Ballet Academy East and the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB). Hoover received training from both the CPYB and the School of American Ballet, prior to accepting an invitation to become a member of the New York City Ballet in 1980. After 11 years, Darla retired from the stage and is now staging ballets for the George Balanchine Trust, as well as teaching internationally. She is also the director for the CPYB’s Teachers’ Workshop, where dance educators can learn from methodologies developed by Marcia Dale Weary.

Darla’s passion in life is teaching dance, and she has shared her smarts with a variety of audiences across three different continents. However, Darla would be the first to tell you that there is more to teaching dance than teaching form and technique — a good teacher instructs students on how to live. On the podcast, she reflects on her time teaching around the globe, gives some practical advice for dancers, and shares some thoughts on what a good teacher looks like.


Moving Quotes:

“What you teach has to be what they’re going to carry through for the rest of their lives, no matter what they do. You have to be teaching life lessons along the way."

“First and foremost, I think a great teacher is a great role model. You have to practice what you preach."

“Students will love you for your honesty, and they’ll hate you for your honesty. But, ultimately, if they know you have their back, they will respect you."

“I had this philosophy — ‘If I’m still breathing, I can dance.’ I don’t really feel like I made wise decisions that took care of myself in the best ways. I would just pretend the injury was not there. And by the time I had to acknowledge it, it was such a large injury that it would set me back for months."

“In many ways, the [modern dance industry] is a healthier atmosphere because it’s wonderful that dancers are pursuing college and are dancing at the same time."

“When my students deal with injuries, I’ll tell them I’m glad they got injured. Because now they’ll have to line up a team [of trusted medical professionals] before you’re a professional dancer. And that’s so important because it’s not the only injury you’re ever going to have.”


Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:

3:55: Darla recaps her recent trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, where she spent time staging George Balanchine’s “Raymonda Variations” for the Vaganova Academy.

9:14: Darla discusses what surprised her most about Russia and Russian ballet.

11:46: Hoover describes what she believes makes for a great teacher and the importance of teaching life skills beyond the stage.

14:46: Darla retells her introduction to ballet and how her parents “accidentally” enrolled her into Marcia Dale Weary’s ballet school, which eventually became CPYB.

17:28: Hoover reflects on her decision to choose dance over going to college and speaks to how the current dance landscape has changed for the positive in this regard.

21:08: Hoover discusses her past difficulty with injuries as a professional dancer and how she could have better handled those situations.

23:45: Darla explains how dancers can best know whether the pains they feel are routine dance aches or are serious injuries that need to be further explored.

26:44: Darla gives some advice for any dance students that are looking for the ideal teacher or mentor.

29:02: Hoover shares about the challenge of finding quality dance personnel to help further the artistic director’s mission and vision.

31:30: Darla shares how she currently has no plans for the future — and that’s just the way she likes it.


Bullet List of Resources – 

Darla Hoover