Teacher Aims To Make Ballet Accessible To All

Anne Andlauer

By Anne AndlauerThe Daily Northwestern

When she was a college student in the early ’60s, Kerry Hubata dreamed of becoming a teacher – but imagined students in leotards and tights instead of orderly rows of pupils.

Hubata is the director and principal teacher of the Evanston School of Ballet, 1933 Central St. She has taught there since the school was founded in 1968, three years after she left college to start teaching ballet along with her instructor.

Hubata wanted to make ballet accessible to everyone, regardless of skill level or social background.

“The school is entirely dedicated to popular education in classical ballet and includes work from pre-ballet through professional levels,” Hubata said.

Success did not come immediately, but in 1977 a silver-screen hit produced a surge of interest in classical ballet.

“After ‘(The) Turning Point’ was released, every little girl wanted to become a ballet dancer,” Hubata said.

That is no longer the case. Ballet seems to have lost ground to more “modern” art forms such as hip-hop and jazz. The decline stems from a “lack of dedication,” Hubata said.

“Classical ballet requires a lot of patience and sacrifice,” she said. “Young people today practice so many activities that they can not provide the investment a ballet class requires.”

But Northwestern ballet teacher Laura Wade said classical ballet also should be studied for personal enrichment and fitness.

“It does not have to be a goal-oriented activity,” she said.

Wade, who teaches at the Evanston School of Ballet during the summer, approved of Hubata’s method of “balancing authority and fun, which prevents young students from early discouragement.”

Hubata applies the same philosophy to her adult classes. Wilmette resident Suzanne Gazzolo and her three daughters take classes twice a week at the school.

“Kerry instills a strong sense of self-discipline in her students,” she said. “My daughters know that being tired or in a bad mood is not a valid reason to miss a class or to dress improperly. They now apply those rules outside the ballet classroom.”

Juliana Lehman, a teacher and former student of the school, said she appreciated the Cecchetti method taught by Hubata.

The program, based on the teachings of the 19th-century Italian ballet master Enrico Cecchetti, “stresses the importance for students to learn through understanding rather than by solely imitating the teacher,” Hubata said.

The method seems to bear fruit, as some of the school’s alumni are now dancers of the American Ballet Theatre, the New York City Ballet and the Royal Swedish Ballet. U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel is another prestigious alumnus of the Evanston School of Ballet.

The school may have successful graduates, but Hubata says her work is not done. She said she plans to teach as long as she can move.

Reach Anne Andlauer at [email protected]