Teacher Talk: Gloria Buckley Ewerz
Gloria Buckley Ewerz teaches Adult Ballet at Dallas Ballet Center in Dallas, TX. She has been teaching for over 20 years. I had the chance to talk with Gloria about her career.
BL: When did you start dancing?
GBE: I started around 11 or 12. That was considered sort of late to start, but I wanted to do ballet so bad. I talked my mother into letting me take classes and I was decent at it, so I continued to dance all through high school and then intermittently in college.
BL: What happened after that?
GBE: I finished graduate school, got married shortly after that, and then I stopped dancing for 13 years. After a while, I started to miss it, but I had convinced myself that I wouldn’t be able to do it again.
BL: How did you get back into dancing?
GBE: I returned to dancing when I was about 39, 40 years old. I had recently been laid off and took advantage of the time to reacquaint myself with ballet. At one point I was taking class while I was eight months pregnant with my second child. At first, I thought I couldn’t do more than one beginner ballet class a week, but then I quickly progressed to taking three intermediate classes a week. Everything just started coming back to me. Then in 1991, I started teaching little kids at Dallas Ballet Center. In 1995, I started teaching adults.
BL: What made you want to teach?
GBE: The idea of teaching adults was intriguing because I knew that I’d be able to talk to people on an intellectual level. When I taught small children I couldn’t exactly do this. It was completely different. As I started teaching adults, it was this whole creative outlet: hearing the music and just coming up with combinations, letting the music tell me what to do. Because I also work as an audiologist, there were times I would come to class tired, but once I’m there, it’s a totally different mindset.
BL: What about ballet appeals to you?
GBE: When I was growing up the studio I attended in Fort Worth taught primarily classical ballet, and occasionally there were jazz and character classes in the summer. But the beauty of ballet, the precision of the movements and placement, really appealed to me; the amazingness of what could be done, what the body could do. As a kid I was overwhelming fascinated with pointe shoes. I remember taking my flat ballet shoes and pushing the toe in to make it look like pointe shoes.
BL: What do you enjoy specifically about teaching adults?
GBE: The creative aspect of making up combinations, and seeing what they can do and how they progress. One of my students tells me it’s like therapy for her. I enjoy helping adults get out of class what they want to get out of it.
BL: Do you have any particularly memorable stories?
GBE: One day, I was teaching a chassé combination and somehow I came down on the side of my foot. My students could actually hear a cracking noise. I got an X-ray done, and it turns out I had broken my fifth metatarsal and wound up in a boot. But I kept teaching! I didn’t miss any classes. Another time, I had two ladies show up to class that had the worst body placement I had ever seen, no matter how much I tried to correct their alignment, nothing worked. Then they told me they were strippers. We had a laugh and I told them, “You should take more ballet to help your posture!” They never came back.
BL: Do you have a favorite ballet, or ballet company?
GBE: I love the classic ballets like Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake. Some other companies I really like are American Ballet Theatre and the Royal Ballet.
BL: Do you have any favorite dance accessories or items you always take to class?
GBE: When I teach I wear black footless Baryshnikov tights. I also carry a foot roller with me, the kind with ridges to help roll my arches out if I get any cramps. And I always wear a wrap skirt, usually wine, green, or black. For a while there I made my own skirts.
BL: What advice do you have for adult dancers?
GBE: Go to class regularly and don’t get frustrated with yourself. It takes time to get comfortable with the class, your body, and remembering ballet vocabulary. And while kids compare themselves to other kids, I want adults to understand that no one cares what you look like. Your teacher cares about you and wants to help you improve, but other than that, adults answer to themselves. A great teacher should know how to impart information and still support and inspire their students.
Thank you Gloria!
-Bethany Leger, balletforadults.com, July 1, 2016