I was recently informed that Stanley Holden passed away yesterday. He was a wonderful man, and an amazing teacher; even after high school when I wasn't dancing as much, I would come home for a weekend to take his morning adult ballet classes. He never made students feel like outsiders, even if he was the only one in the room we knew, and his method of teaching was encouraging and enviting. His classroom was a place of mutual respect, laughter (uncommon during most other ballet classes), and an abundance of love. I loved his combinations, challenging without being intimidating, and his enthusiasm for ballet--he did his best to demonstrate every combination, even after multiple knee surgeries. I really cannot express how much he will be missed or how much he was, and will always be loved. If you would like to read more about Stanley, there is a bio here as well as a three page article here. They're a little outdated, but I'm sure there will be other memorials popping up soon. [update: LA Times obituary here]
My favorite Stanley memories:
*the way he pronounced chene turns "jenny turns"
*this joke, always told to a girl with ripped tights: "Are those the tights you wear to church?" "No, why?" "Cause they're your holy tights!" I still use that joke...all the time.
*the way he demonstrated combinations with a slight limp
*his white jazz shoes
*the way he always made me feel like a ballerina, the way he cared about all of us individually, the way his classes were inviting and full of a wide variety of dancers, that his classes weren't about being the best ballerina, but about the love of ballet.
Stanley, I miss you.