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RACINE - Students at Racine's Studio of Classical Dance Arts are in for a treat Saturday. Internationally-renowned choreographer/director Jean Paul Comelin will teach a master class at the ballet school at 4910 Washington Ave. Saturday afternoon. 

This is Comelin's second visit to the studio, which is run by former Milwaukee Ballet company dancers, Marc Darling and Linda Bennett. The French-born Comelin served as artistic director of the Milwaukee Ballet from 1974 to 1980, and later continued his relationship with the company as guest choreographer and teacher.

Throughout his career, Comelin has also been associated with the world's most prominent ballet companies and has worked with such notable dancers as Margot Fonteyn, Mikhail Barishnikov and Natalia Makarova. He shared some thoughts with us about his visit here.

Q: What brings a world-class choreographer such as yourself to Racine?

A: I keep in contact with all the dancers I have worked with and Marc Darling and Linda Bennett are very special people from my Milwaukee Ballet days. They always give 100 percent to everything they do. As a freelance choreographer, teacher and lecturer, I am at ease whether I am in Korea, Paris or Racine. I love the school Marc and Linda have built and I think they are very focused.

Q: What were your impressions of the students at the Studio of Classical Dance Arts during your visit in 2008?

A: They are a gem to work with - not only technically, but they are very open and willing to try again and again to improve. This is a good school that we must pay attention to because in a few years, it will demand the attention of the dance world.

Q: What, other than technique, do you hope students here learn from you?

A: This is just the kind of school I like to teach at because the students are trained with the understanding that technique is only part of their training. They understand that to dance, one needs to know where the movement comes from, the alignment of the body, the musicality, the finish of the phrase, and the presentation of the whole exercise with great confidence. The concentration of these young dancers is remarkable and their confidence and dedication is surely the result of great training and understanding.


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