A day in the life of a professional ballet dancers begins with Company class. Taking class warms up the dancers’ muscles and minds, and provides the opportunity to fine tune technique, work on problem areas, and mentally prepare for the day ahead. We sat down with Ballet Master and Assistant to the Artistic Director Ricardo Bustamante, to understand the importance of Company class.
What is the purpose of the daily Company class?
Class is all about training and developing skills that help you stay mentally and physically in shape. Just like in any sport, dancers need to practice and daily class keeps them supple and strong. The 75-minute class allows dancers to push themselves, while preparing for a long day of rehearsals or performances ahead (sometimes both).
Esteban Hernandez in Company class (© Erik Tomasson)
How does the progression of class build?
Having been a dancer myself, I know what the dancers are looking for. I always start out barre focusing on warming up the ankles and opening up the joints, with an emphasis on musicality, rhythm, and structure that will serve everyone for the remainder of the day. I am always aware of the works that the dancers are rehearsing that day and tailor my class to those styles. Read More
Aaron Robison joined SF Ballet in 2016 as a principal dancer. Originally from Coventry, England, Aaron did not actively seek out classes or a career in ballet. Instead, he recalls, “I’d wait with my mum [after my sister’s ballet classes] until eventually the teacher said, ‘Why don’t you start too?’ So I did! I especially enjoyed the jumping part.” At age 10 his family moved to Barcelona, but Aaron stayed in England to attend the Royal Ballet School’s Junior Associates outreach program. He eventually moved back to Spain to be closer to his family and enrolled in ballet classes at La Companyia Juvenil de Ballet Clàssic de Catalunya. He notes,“One big moment, when I really knew I wanted to dance professionally, was when my mum bought me a video of Nureyev for Christmas. Something clicked and I realized that was what I wanted to do.”
He continued his training with Institut del Teatre until age 16 and eventually returned to the Royal Ballet School. He competed in the Prix de Lausanne, won the Young British Dancer of the Year competition, and received the gold medal at the 1st Seoul International Ballet Competition. Aaron went on to dance with the Birmingham Royal Ballet, Angel Corella’s Barcelona Ballet (formerly Corella Ballet), and Houston Ballet, before joining our Company. We sat down with him for a brief Q&A:
Dores André and Aaron Robison in Tomasson’s The Fifth Season. (© Erik Tomasson)
Jiří Bubeníček, a Czech citizen born in Poland, was an acclaimed dancer before he retired in 2015 to focus on his career as a choreographer. Jiří and his brother Otto, the sons of circus acrobats, began their ballet training at the Prague Dance Conservatory. In 1992, Jiří received an award at the prestigious Prix de Lausanne and a year later, he joined Hamburg Ballet (along with his brother), and became a principal dancer in 1997.
There, he performed all the principal roles in John Neumeier’s repertory and in 2006, he moved to Dresden’s Semperoper Ballet where he was appointed principal dancer. Throughout his dance career, Jiří has won many awards, including the Benois de la Danse in 2002, and has guested with many companies world-wide–including Paris Opera Ballet where he partnered Aurelie Dupont and Agnes Letestu.
Jiří Bubeníček and Dores André rehearse Bubeníčeks Fragile Vessels ©Erik Tomasson
Known for his rich and diverse choreography, beautiful dancing, and great partnering skills, Ukranian-born Yuri Possokhov holds the position of choreographer in residence for SF Ballet. After training at the Moscow Ballet School, he danced for ten years with the world-famous Bolshoi Ballet and Royal Danish Ballet, before moving to the US and joining the Company as a principal dancer in 1994.
Lucia Lacarra and Yuri Possokhov in Tomasson’s Giselle. (Courtesy MP+D)