They say true dancers are born, not made.
Therefore, the process of teaching dance seems inherently flawed. Steps can be learned, the body may be conditioned, qualities of movement adapted. But to dance, in the artistic sense, is to feel, to be immersed in the music and the steps. To achieve this, one must connect with something within. To many who have attempted, the ability attain this connection is seemingly impossible to teach.
There are some who are born dancers, (you can always pick them from the corps — with brighter eyes, expressive gestures, the best musicality). Born dancers are special, but even more rare are born dance teachers, those who have the ability to teach others to attain true feeling in their dancing.
I was lucky to have studied under such a rare individual. Nadine Cole, who ran a local ballet school , was mismatched against the back drop of the rural community where I grew up in the late 1990s. A scholar in kinesiology, music, choreography and history, she had lived in Chicago and New York, and with the twists and turns of a long life ended up bringing her wealth of knowledge to the North Coast of California.
Like a dancer performing, she was in constant motion. She strutted the studio floor of her dance school with authority, defining the wide vocabulary of steps found in classical ballet with loud statements and exact demonstrations. In her sixties, she could execute the most difficult of steps at the drop of a hat in a forceful effort to show her students how they should be performed. With ankles strong and lean as marble columns, she rhythmically stomped, pranced, twirled, and skipped as she shouted musical counts. She kept time with anything that could be tapped or thumped on the studio floor — canes, umbrellas, mop handles.