Albert W Newman.

Newman catechism on classical dancing online

. (page 1 of 10)
Online LibraryAlbert W NewmanNewman catechism on classical dancing → online text (page 1 of 10)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Newman Catechism


Classical Dancing


Albert W. Newman

Director of the Newman Normal School of Dancing,

Ballet Master of the Newnnan Ballet, Official

Dance Director of the Pageant Society of

America, Member of the Imperial

Society of Dancing Masters,

London, Academie de Danse,

Paris, France, etc.



Theo. Presser Co.^

Philade-phia, Pa.

aljifl Work ta KeopprlfiiUij SrliiratriĀ»
to ti|e

Jparnrl|tal ^rlimila

anft til all inn

i'tuiinita ixwh (EnllpagucB

lulio arr alrtiunii to
rlntate lljc

(Ifrpmrl^nrfau Art



All riglils reserved

including that of translation

into foreign languages

'All Th\ Mo-ucmenis Shall be Those of Grace



The Half-tones in this Book

are taken from

Photographs of the Students of the Neivman

Normal School of Darning


The chief object in presenting- this work to the pro-
fession is to furnish practical assistance to the student,
teacher, and dancer, and to those who
are taking- up the subject scientifically
as a Physical Culture.

It is to enable the student to
acquire a finished technique and to
' about. It
is true that the most renowned cxpoiiciils of the Classio
Dance, or those who exi)loit the tlu mux of Nature Danc-
ing, have begun their studies witli the same methods
as those employed in the old French and Italian
Schools of I>allet. It is this system, in addition to the
Hellenic School, that has made the Russians famous as
Terpsichorean artists.

So, being desirous of contributing my mite to the
advancement of the Art, and in compliance with the
wishes of my students, I now humbly submit this work
for their approval, with the hope that they will fmd in
its pages much material that will prove valuable to

Albert AV. Newman.

"Yet while we live let's merry be, and make of care

a jest,
Since we are taught what is right; and what is right
is best."


^Tho dance is a physical effort in wliicli a senti-
ment is expressed through the rhythmic, harmonious
movements of the body; a truly natural instinct. There-
fore, it must embody more than a series of graceful
movements. It must make these movements mean
something; then it will enthrall and be a memorable
pleasure.'"^ C^ojisidering the fact that men and women
of intelligence are now taking up the study of dancing
scientifically, leads one to hope that it will soon receive
the same prominence as it did in the days of the ancient
Greeks. Then the entire nation will be benefited by
its practice, both morally and physically.

It should not appear conventional or artificial, as
in Social Dancing, or over-elaborated step dancing, for
in both these styles it is lost as a line art and should
only be regarded as an amusement, or exercise, and
though it still remains an enjoyable pastime, its great-
est power as an educative art is lost. Isadora Duncan
says: "To see in the dance no more than a frivolous
or agreeable diversion is to offer an insult to the God-
dess Terpsichore."

-^^ Dancing has always occupied a most prominent
place among the fine Arts. Being closely allied with
Music, Sculpture and the Drama, it affords exceptional
opportunities, with unlimited resources, particularly
in the direction of emotional expression. The psycho-
logical effect of dancing is as beneficial as its physical
effect. Dancing has been acknowledged from time im-
memorial as the Art of Grace and tlie Poetry of
Motion; the most pleasing of entertainments and the
rtiost ]io])nlar of jill anuisements. ' It is the one accom-
])lishment which gives to man the power to display, to
the best possible advantage, the beauty of form and
the exquisite grace witli which he h;is been endowed.
Not only does dancinu' keep^ the figure lines trim and
youtlifnl. but it ])ro(hic(^s a grace and ])oise of the
body lliai llic mere acciuircment of nnisclc and llic siili-
duing of (lesh can never accomi)lisli. As an exercise
lliei'e is none so beneiicial, for the strengtli required
for the various movements comes so graihial lliat there

is no danger of ovei'strain. The ^vo^ld-^vi(lo move to
revive the Classic Art of Dancing is to pre-eminently
restore the intelligent and deliglitfnl impi'essions, and
to preserve the traditional and inherent dramatic qual-
ity. It is not to be overlooked that the dance demands
as precise a technique as any other Art.

Novcrre (Letters sur la Danse et les P)allets IKiO)
required that "the dancers should emulate to combine
the perfection of the mechanical execution with the
talent of consummate actors and that their counte-
nances, attitudes, gestures and all their movements
shcmld depict the varial)leness of the sentiments that
move the soul."

Dancing requires suppleness, energy, and breath
cai)acity, and necessitates practice of a sort that will
produce good, firm, elastic muscle. "> Incidentally, it
makes one agile and sure-footed, and through thou-
sands of years has been the source of much harmless


Classic Dancing has much to recommend it as an
intellectual and enjoyable form of Physical Culture,
and it is strange that not until recent years did the
Directors of Physical Training recognize it as such,
and acknowledge its rare qualities. It now comprises
a most im])ortant ])art of the Ti'aining Course in evei-y
school and college throughout the country where Physi-
cal Culture is taught.

In many cases of Physical Training where appara-
tus is used, the woi'k is too severe for most girls, and
the consequence is spi-ained or over-trained muscles,
and we know of a numbei- of cases whei'e more sei'ious
results have followed.

These stremious methods ])roduce protruding mus-
cles and bi'utc st I'cnutli ; l)ut ik xcr gi'acc and supple-
ness, 'i'licy make one si iff and awkward, and in oi-cjci-
to of^'sct soiUi' of these harmful elfects, Dancing' has
})een inti'oduced into many Physical Cultui'e ('oui'ses;
but only as a side issue, and is pi'acticed in a dilatoiy

and unfinished manner. The instruction is not explicit,
and too often it is regarded by the pupil as an amuse-

These assertions have been substantiated by a
leading authority on Physical Training, and he further
states that Physical Culturists are the most ungainly
dancers. This fact is also demonstrated in our own
school by these students who acknowledge their inabil-
ity to compete with the girls who are practicing relaxed
dancing to the exclusion of the rigid, tense and con-
tracte(i methods emi)]oyed in Physical Training.


After discovering that you possess a love for
Dancing, the first and most important thing to do is to
place yourself under the guidance of a thoroughly com-
petent teacher. The study of Dancing has such a
powerful infiuence on the mind and body that a good
beginning is most essential. Always bear in mind that
you are studying an Art and not a frivolous sort of
thing that is here today and gone tomorrow. Buck
and Wing and Jazz will never educate you in Interpre-
tative Dancing or the I'lassic Ballet.

Whether you are taking up dancing as your voca-
tion or as an amusement, be conscientious, persevering,
refined and nicxk'st in all your undertakings and by all
means try to cultivate the artistic and poetic side.

Do not believe in "picking it up" as some have at-
tempted to do. We often encounter these unsophis-
ticated girls who claim they have never had a teacher.
These are self-instructed victims who only })erform a
few i)et steps and movements which they have copied
fi-om dancers, and are generally badly executed; all
their (hiiices consist of tlie same movements, which de-
notes a lack of study.

I have nv(M- known a great dancer who was self-
taught or who li;i(l not i-eceived the foundation of the
Ai't from a master or his woi'ks, and wlint is more, he
or she is always ])i'oud to admit it.

After the stucU'iit has aciiuircd the t'uiKhunciital


tec'liiiiqiie tlio iiRli\i(liiality can be expressed and the
imagination strengthened; but not before.

All attractive appearance and a pleasing personal-
ity are two of the most valuable assets to a dancer.

A number of cases could here be mentioned regard-
ing noted dancers who have worked against great odds,
such as slight physical deformities, lack of tempera-
ment, no ear for music, etc., yet by persevering and fol-
lowing the instructions of a master, they surmounted
these obstacles and were eventually crowned with suc-
cess. Remember,^ practice brings experience; experi-
ence brings confidence, and confidence brings the fin-
ished artist.:.

There has never been a noted ihuicer, a great mu-
sician or a great artist, who has won fame without a
thorough knowledge of technique.

Do not be misled by the idea that you can achieve
greatness without study and without the correct appli-
cation and strict observance of the true fundamental
rules governing the Terpsichorean Art. New-fangled
ideas and all sorts of electric methods are continually
springing forth, which for a time seem to attract, but
then quickly sink into oblivion.

The much advertised system of Nature Dancing
which recjuires absolutely no technicpie, no practice and
no study of any kind is simply a means of extorting
money from poor victims who wish to do great tilings
without any ])relimiiiary study. It has been ])roved
that many of the systems of Rhythmic Exjiressioii
which are from time to time being* introduced, and
which are supposed to revolutionize Dancing, have so
far done very little, if anything, toward producing the
finished artist.

"There is no royal road to success save through
work." Remember that after the practical side of
Dancing has been mastered, the Poetic side should be
carefully considered and the imagination develo])ed.
Too often, T fear, the imagination of the student is
checked, rather than develo|)ed, ])y the ])ainstaking ef-
forts of tlie teachei" to show "how and why" a work is
a mastei'])iec(', when it would be more to his artistic
salvation wei'.' jic made to feci its inllucncc.

Let US recall to mind that bct'oi'c nio\'inu' the leg.


the step should be thoroughly understood by the brain,
which will then transfer it to the muscles. The eyes
must not see what the feet do ; they must be guided by
the mind absolutely.

It is hardly necessary to impress further on the
minds of the student that all the steps and movements
must be executed in strict accordance with the rhythm
of the music, and students should give more time to the
Port de Bras than to any other branch of the work.

In order to express an emotion it is necessary
to bring about a physical effort, therefore the various
parts of the body must be so strengthened as to carry
out the will of the mind. The exercises have been ar-
ranged progressively and combined with an extensive
treatise on Port de Bras, or the proper manner of arm
movement, gesticulation and pantomime, the true art
of expression or the language of motion. All technical
terms in dancing bear French names and we cannot
do better than to retain the same and learn to pro-
nounce them properly. Bear in mind that the success
of a dance depends upon its execution. In other words,
''It is not so much what you do, but how you do it."

It is very gratifying to say that the First Edition
of this work has quickly found its way into the hands
of the most ])r(nninent teachers and" dancers of the
world, including a number of Russian Dancers who
have unanimously ])ronounced it a Text Book of ex-
ceptional merit.

Its rapid sale has ])rompted the writer to issue
tliis Second Edition which has been greatlv enlarged
and revised in accordance ^dth the rapid rise of the
Standard of the Classic Ballet.

The Xewman System of Classical Dancing em-
bodied in this Catechism is also taught at the following
Universities and Schools: Brvn :\rawr College",
Swarthmorc CoUege, Ogontz School, TempU^ Cniver-
sity, Lititz Seminary, Fniversitv of Pennsvlvania,
(Summer School), Fniversitv of' Pittsburgh ' Girard
College, Y. W. C. A., Chester, !>;,., Castle Scjiool, X. Y.

IIambnrgCons(M-vat(>ry,T()r()iito,(^niada, State Xormai
Scliools, Bca(]iim' and Shii)i)cnsburg, Pa., High School
( abr..niia, V. W. C. A., Tokio, Japan, and manv others'



TIr' iiR'thod ol' Icacliini;' dancing is as imi)()rlanl
as ihc (lance itself.

The })r()fessi()n has attracted hundreds of young;
men and Avomen in the Tnited States during the past
few years, whose main object has beeii to acquire as
much money as possible, with the little or no knowl-
edge they possess. Tliey say, "1 do not wish to be-
come a great dancer; just give me a few lessons, about
ten, so that I will be able to teach."

The idea of "knowing enough" is sufficient, in
tlu'ir minds, to teach the art of dancing intelligently.

There is no more ])athetic spectacle than to see a
grade teacher trying to instruct a class of children in
dancing, when she is totally unable to demonstrate a
movement properly.

He who contemplates becoming a teacher should
first be a dancer, as dancing is an art which can be
better understood by a practical demonstration than
by a lengthy theoretical descri])tion.

In Kurope one never teaclies until he has l)een a
dancer. But here in America, it seems to be just the
reverse; they teach before they have actually mastered
the art. It's the wrong way around, to be sure. That
is why there are so many poor dancers and so many
cheap and inexjierienced teachers. Yet, we hear of
teachers who cannot dance and are considered fairly
successful, but their success is not far-reaching. Others
again, who are dancers have not the patience to teach
intelligently, lacking both individuality and magnetism.
Another gi'ade of teacher is the one who goes out of
town to take a summer course or a so-called s])ecial
teachers' course of a few lessons, which includes a
diploma. Obtaining the dii)loma is the princi])al object
and after I'cceiving it, study is a thing ol' the ])ast.
Kemembei-, a di|)loma or a letter of recommendation
will not hold youi' position uidess you can make good.
M\' ad\'ice is to keej) on studving. There is no end to
a r't .

When Nou take up the study of dancing as your
])rofession, > ou nuist be perfectly willing to devote your


entire life to it, then you cannot fail; yonr success will
be assured. Do not overlook the fact that dancing-
will require also the study of music, and the more you
understand music the better able you will be to ar-
range your dances, and your interpretative work will
become more intelHgent. It surely will be a great
handicap if you are not a thorough musician.

The one reason why Foreign Dancers, surpass our
own products, is that they possess a superior knowl-
edge of music, which enables them to interpret the
most difficult passages with the greatest assurance
and ease.

Furthermore, it is of paramount importance that
a thorough knowledge of the English language be ac-
quired before one attemi)ts to teach any art. It seems
strange that in no other calling is good English so
lacking as in the Dancing Profession. This condition
should not exist, as the close contact of teacher and
l)upil requires full mastery of expression and an ex-
tended vocabulary, as a knowledge of Dancing alone
is not sufficient for success.

Foreign Artists possess all these requisites, and
have retained their success through their versatile
powers, and higher education, which has always given
them entree into the Courts of Europe. Pavlowa says,
"Take all Arts that are related to Dancing and make
a rule that all students in dancing should have at least
an elementary training in anatomy, in sculpture, drama,
architecture, painting, music and in 'general educational

Teachers, keep your students on the fundamental
exercises in side and center practice. Port de P>ras and
enchaiiiements as long as you ])ossibly can. Then, after
all the technical difficulties have been mastered, the
next important thing is to stimulate the imagination,
so that the poetic side is expressed. Teach them al-
ways to have high ideals and to iiiter])ret only the beau-
tiful classics of the celebrated masters.

Study the individuality of each ])upil and do not
teacli every one alike. This will make >-our work
varied and interesting, and although adhering to the
genei-al I'outine of ])i'aeti('e, the exercises can be so


changed, from day to day, that they will appear new,
by changing the rhythm oi" the nuisie, or inti'odncing
different arm movements.

Do not hurry, and above all, do not talk loo miieli.
'Remember, the brain can hold so much and no more.
Many an over-anilntious student demands more than
he can retain, and inconsequence conl'usion results and
progress is retarded.

I will not outline a course for teachers in detail
here, for 1 feel that the teachers I am addressing have
been, and are still dancers and know from personal
experience exactly what to teach for the good of the
student. By studying the contents of this volume,
much v

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Online LibraryAlbert W NewmanNewman catechism on classical dancing → online text (page 1 of 10)