About My Awesome Ballet Teacher

*photo property of Michael Cornell

This is my awesome ballet teacher, Michael Cornell… I know, right!  You can just fffeeelllll the awesome-ness can’t you! I know you can. Go ahead, take a moment.

Michael, also know here in this blog  Awesome Ballet Teacher, or ABT studied at the National Academy of Arts in Illinois, the Pennsylvania School of Ballet, and with some wickedly awesome master teachers, like Petrus Bosman (from Royal, yeah… that Royal) and Robert Dicello (from National Ballet of Canada). Michael danced with BalletMet of Columbus, Ohio. He has a background in both classical ballet and contemporary dance. He’s performed original works by David Parsons, James Kudelka, Liz Lerman, and Alonzo King. If you don’t know who these people are – smack yourself then indulge in some google-izing.

Nice CV but here is what it doesn’t tell you… Michael is an amazing ballet teacher. Rather than fall into that excuse ridden rut of traditional, old-school blah blah blah this is how ballet class has always been since the dawn of time and it’s kind of miserable so suck it up and just do it or get out, Michael employs a whole new perspective to ballet class – he makes it doable and fun. You don’t have to have any dance background whatsoever to take Michael’s classes and begin to learn ballet – not crummy barre-fusion ballet-inspired not-so-much-fun workout classes – but real classical ballet.

So why is my Awesome Ballet Teacher worthy of the title ABT? Because he is always patient, encouraging, thoughtful, and gets results by being thorough and caring. I  started with one basic beginners class a week and was pretty sure that it wasn’t going to stick because let’s face it, my friends, I have a history of having to take a moment just to differentiate between my right and my left so let us just assume that my natural ability to do anything that can be labeled as dance to be limited at best. Six months later,  I am in three to four classes a week including intermediate level. I’m not saying I’m great or anything but  I can keep up, not feel lost, and come out of class having learned a thing or two and am always encouraged to return and learn more and that has everything to do with my teacher being awesome!

In class one night, Michael shared with us that he went to yoga class that day and the teacher told them to sort of do their own thing because it was their personal journey. He commented that ballet class is not our own thing but that we were kind of on his journey. There is great truth to that. And so I include him in my blog as I refer to him so often because my journey in ballet is basically to be led by this amazing ballet teacher. Without him, I remain only an observer of ballet; to participate in ballet, I need him. I can’t really emphasize enough how important he is and how grateful I am that he has the courage to take on the somewhat insane but noble task of trying to teach ballet to adults.

If you are ever in Los Angeles, I highly recommend a class or two and even if you are not as strategically located as I am ( 😀 ) might I suggest following him on Twitter and Facebook and checking out his site and his blog where he always offers great tips and thoughts and even has a page with ballet class music as a free download!

Find Michael Cornell here: http://www.alignballetmethod.com/


8 thoughts on “About My Awesome Ballet Teacher

    • Yes! Thanks to you both for such a great interview!

      When you are an adult beginner you are really starting from less than zero because not only do you not know anything about ballet but you’ve missed your prime window to start learning ballet physically. Adult beginners may have a lot of experience with various types of teachers and coaches but not ballet teachers and ballet class, which is an entirely different experience. So we don’t always know a good teacher from a not-so-good-one.

      Michael’s approach takes all this into account. He doesn’t just teach a class, he teaches us how to take class! He understands that most of us are going to have to retrain and reshape our bodies and that it takes time and effort. He breaks everything down into doable and understandable steps so that you constantly feel like there is progress. And even in a class with twenty other people, he somehow manages to know where you are as an individual, how much you can do and what you are becoming capable of, so that he can challenge you without discouraging you.

      I did not have any kind of dance as a child – NONE! I am not a natural mover, I do not have great natural musicality, I have zero natural facility for dance, I am not flexible, fast, or exceptional for ballet in any way. But I’ve learned well and enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve been able to take beginner drop in classes when I travel and have received some nice compliments. Not too long ago I took a class while on vacation and after class the teacher asked about my training saying “I could tell immediately that you have been well trained.”

      If you are ever in town, please do join us! I think you would really enjoy it 😀

  1. I too teach adult beginners and I agree with all you said. It’s so important to make it fun without dumbing it down or skipping the rigor. I have students that I have had with me for 10+ years — including some who had zero dance training when they started. I have had students with cancer and those with joint replacements. All worked hard and improved. Teaching adults isn’t for everyone–you have to be able to tailor exercises to many different ability levels and give options. It is, however, incredibly rewarding! Out of all the groups I have taught in my lifetime, the adult ballet class is my favorite! 🙂 Thanks for connecting Michael and I!

    • Wow, I’m so glad to hear that you enjoy teaching adults! I tried a bunch of different classes before I found Michael and quickly discovered that lots of people teach ballet but not everyone should teach true beginner adults. I had a lot of bad experiences and almost gave up trying to learn. The difference that a great teacher can make is simply epic! Thanks for taking it on, it’s truly a wonderful gift to bring ballet to adults.

      My pleasure and hopefully I’ll be able to take class with you sometime 🙂

  2. Perhaps that will happen one day–if you ever get to Chicago, let me know! (And I’ll do the same if I get to LA!) 🙂
    And you are so right–not everyone is cut out to teach beginning adults! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Looking for an Awesome Ballet Teacher « the dance theorem

  4. Wow he sounds like a really great teacher! Must feel so good to have someone so special leading you through the world of classical ballet 🙂

    • It is such a privilege to have such a great teacher. When I go other places, it’s such a pleasure and get compliments on my technique. Other teachers are always surprised at how little time I’ve been dancing which I really attribute to having a really good instructor. I trust him with my training, that’s a really big deal, I think – to really trust someone enough to just be able to listen and follow!

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s