Catching Up with ABT’s Franco De Vita and Raymond Lukens

Franco De Vita and Raymond Lukens with attendees of the first session of ABT's National Training Curriculum Teacher Training.

Franco De Vita (far right) and Raymond Lukens (center) with attendees of the first ABT teacher training session at Ballet San Jose.

In May, Ballet San Jose hosted American Ballet Theatre’s (ABT) first National Training Curriculum Teacher Training session. Led by Principal of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at ABT Franco De Vita and and Director of the National Training Curriculum Program Raymond Lukens, Ballet SJ School faculty, along with dancers from the company and dance teachers from around the country, completed the training for levels Primary through 3.

Recently, Principal of Ballet SJ School Dalia Rawson wrote a two-part blog series for 4dancers exploring the teacher training experience. With the second session beginning this Sunday, August 12, we wanted to take a closer look at the curriculum from the perspective of the two people who know it best.
 We caught up with Franco and Raymond by email last month and asked them a few questions about the curriculum, their trip to California, and their advice for participants in the program. They took time out of their very busy schedules to give us some great answers…

1. How does the ABT National Training Curriculum set students and/or dance educators on the path to success?

The path to success is set up by various elements. There is luck, natural talent, hard work, and good preparation. The National Training Curriculum offers the tools to better prepare students and teachers to have a more complete technical and stylistic preparation.

2. What is your favorite aspect of the ABT National Training Curriculum, and how do you think it will benefit Ballet San Jose School?

Our favorite aspect is that it is set-up to be skill- and age-appropriate for the normal healthy child and the pre-professional child to realize their full potential, and that it informs teachers with essential health information. This is a benefit to all dance schools.

3. What is the most valuable piece of advice you give to dance educators who are implementing the ABT National Training Curriculum for the first time?

Not to see it as a “bible” but to use it as guidelines to enhance their own knowledge and experience as teachers.

4. How was your experience working with Ballet San Jose’s faculty and dancers, as well as the many other dance educators who attended?

It was an amazing experience! Everyone worked with utmost commitment–from the private school teacher who attended to the principal dancers of Ballet San Jose.

5. What did you enjoy the most about the time you spent in California earlier this month?

We always enjoy visiting many parts of the world. California touches us particularly because it is so much like our beloved Italy.

Thanks for your insightful answers, Franco and Raymond. We are so excited to welcome the ABT National Training Curriculum folks back to Ballet San Jose this weekend and will be posting updates about teacher training periodically on the Ballet SJ Facebook page and @balletsj on Twitter. Keep your eyes peeled!

And if you’ve attended teacher training before or are considering being certified by ABT, we’d love to get some feeback from you. Leave your questions and comments about the curriculum in a comment on this blog post and we’ll post our answers next week!

ABT’s National Training Curriculum is a program for the development and training of young students that embraces sound ballet principles and incorporates elements of the French, Italian and Russian schools of training. Learn more about the curriculum and its implementation at Ballet SJ School by visiting the school website.

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