Jenie Lau is a ballet for figure skaters instructor located in the Seattle, Washington area. Her full bio has been posted below. To schedule private or group lessons with Jenie, check out her business website, Young EduArts LLC!
Elesia Ashkenazy: How did you get started as a ballet for figure skaters instructor?
Jenie Lau: I was teaching at a dance studio and a few of my ballet students informed me that they were figure skaters. When I started my own business, I offered to work with them in specialized ballet specifically geared to enhance and compliment their figure skating. Traditional ballet training at a typical dance studio is designed to produce pre-professional students. Figure skaters, however, need a variation of ballet training that teaches the foundational elements of ballet but is specialized to address the technical skills, artistry, and musicality needed for their field.
Elesia: How does ballet relate to figure skating and why should a skater should invest in it?
Jenie: Ballet is the ideal cross training for figure skaters as it addresses the three key aspects of figure skating: technique, artistry, and musicality. Figure skaters should absolutely be investing to some degree, even if it is just one solid ballet class a week. Most importantly, ballet teaches the correct posture and technical finesse needed for figure skating. Artistry is a core component of ballet, and ballet teaches a figure skater how to be an artist on the ice and not just an individual that performs jumps, spins, and footwork. Figure skaters must also be able to interpret music and illustrate the music with their movements on the ice, which ballet communicates from the very first class. No other form of cross training matches ballet as far as what is needed for figure skating.
Elesia: How do you connect with and encourage enthusiasm and development with figure skaters who dislike ballet and/or dance?
Jenie: I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work with 40+ figure skaters over the course of eight weeks in an intensive summer camp. Most of them came in very skeptical of ballet due to previous experiences. If there’s anything I’ve learned working with skaters, it is that ballet needs to be relevant to their skating and ballet needs to enjoyable!
Yes, ballet is hard--very hard. But it doesn’t mean that ballet shouldn’t be joyful to teach and learn. When instructors hold a mindset of wanting to help these skaters become better at their craft, the enthusiasm is contagious and the skaters in return want to become better at ballet for their skating.
Elesia: Have you spoken with or exchanged emails with other ballet for figure skaters instructors?
Jenie: Yes! There are a few instructors out there that I have come into contact with that are doing amazing things for the figure skaters they work with. Annette Thomas, instructor at American Ice Theatre is a well-known figure in the ballet for figure skating world. She offers a Vaganova ballet based method of training for figure skaters that I have incorporated in the training I offer. Jaclyn Levine, resident ballet instructor, at Arizona Ice Den is also another colleague I have communicated with. She runs a highly successful ballet for figure skaters program and offers a variety of lesson formats that I have also drawn from.
Elesia: Is there anything us ballet for figure skaters instructors all have in common? What do we bring as a whole to the communities we serve?
Jenie: I would have to say that the one common element us ballet for figure skaters instructors bring is the passion to utilize and share ballet for its incredible art form! Ballet for figure skaters instructors have the innate ability to see the parallels between figure skating and ballet to enhance their figure skating students’ abilities. We also have the ability to adapt training for students that are not typical ballet students. Not every ballet instructor can, or will want to do so. It takes a certain level of technical and artistic aptitude to translate the art of ballet for a different field even one as closely related as figure skating. We bring a reinvigorated type of ballet to the figure skating community!
Elesia: Many thanks to Jenie Lau for this fantastic informative interview! My readers and I are looking forward to Part 2 tomorrow morning.
Jenie: Thank you!
Jenie Lau began her dance training at the Tri-Cities Academy of Ballet and Music under Artistic Director Debra Rogo in Richland, Washington. She trained in both Cecchetti (Italian) and Vaganova (Russian) styles including jazz and tap. As a pre-professional student, Jenie attended summer intensives as a scholarship recipient, inclusive of Pacific Northwest Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, and the International Ballet Competition program. She has studied character, musical theatre, and modern dance with renowned instructors. Jenie was also a competitive dancer and member of the nationally ranked Eastern Washington Elite Dance Team, and was also a member of Mid-Columbia Ballet where she performed soloist roles in classical and contemporary repertoire.
Jenie's ballet for figure skaters background includes work as the guest ballet instructor for Sno-King Ice Arena-Renton's Figure Skaters 2015 Summer Camp. She is also the guest ballet instructor for the Tri-Cities Figure Skating Club 2015 summer class, and the 2015 Ballet for Figure Skaters Workshop. Jenie is the pending fall 2015 ballet instructor for Washington Ice Emeralds, a synchronized skate team. She is also the guest instructor for Skyline High School's Dance Team Summer Camp 2015 where she will be teaching technique class.