Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Jacques Bourgouin at the World of Highland Dancing Conference

Our teachers at Vimy and ESB come from a variety of backgrounds and experience.  Often we see them only in the role they fill at our school teaching ballet, jazz, tap, or other classes.  However, our teachers also do many other amazing things!  Jacques Bourgouin, for example, also has a strong presence in the Highland Dance World.  Recently he was in Las Vegas teaching at an international Highland Competition!

From Jacques . . . 

I was invited to teach at the World of Highland Dancing Conference being held in Vegas, Nevada back on the Thanksgiving long weekend in October 2015. This is my 3rd time participating as a guest teacher, working with students and professional instructors. The conference is held approximately every 3 years and has been running since 1980.  The conference attracts Highland dance professionals and dancers from around the world including South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Europe, Scotland, England, Japan, United States and Canada.  This past October was the 13th conference held and 200 participants attended.  The primary focus of the conference is the understanding and development of a competitive Highland dancer.  There were multiple sessions included.  The sessions I taught were:

Developing Proper Body Alignment for Highland
I worked from the feet up and talked about weight placement on the feet and how it can affect the rest of the body’s alignment. Also addressed how the abs can control the placement of the pelvis and the rib cage. The use of the arms, shape and placement.

Exercises to improve and strengthen turnout  
In this session I co-taught with Nadiene Gibney from Toronto and who is also a Cecchetti Teacher. We worked on several exercises to help improve turnout, what muscle to use and strengthen the use of turnout.

Origins of the National Dances
In this session, I was asked to demonstrate the ballet steps that are used in the highland national dances. The purpose was to show how the ballet dancer dances the step with the use and control of the plie movement. How the steps have lost their quality and the need to bring back the quality and control of these steps to the national highland dances.

I also lead the daily morning warm up for the dancers.

Below is a testimonial of a participant:

"Thank you for putting on such an outstanding conference. I know I'll be using the information I picked up from it for a good long time.

I was especially inspired by Jacques and all he added to each of his sessions. I have a male ballet instructor here in Vermont, Chatch Pregger, who is also an inspiration but Jacques was clearly world class."

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