Learn more about Ballet Director, Thom Yzaguirre
Why do you love ballet?
When I was 6 years old and my mom asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said a ballet dancer. I was born in Red Lodge, Montana (a town of about 2000 people). Where I came up with that career choice is a mystery. I must have seen it on television. I do have a vivid memory of dancing around any chance I got; including in front of a lot full of cars at a drive in theatre waiting for the sun to go down and the feature to begin. When I graduated high school, I attended the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis as a theatre major. I also started my formal dance training at that time at the School of Minnesota Dance Theatre (MDT). I took everything (ballet, modern, jazz and tap). The School of MDT had a very similar philosophy as FSPA - the best dance education is a well rounded education. I loved ballet the most and had the most opportunities in the ballet field. I started training and dancing full time and have never looked back.
What are some of your favorite ballets?
The first full length ballet I saw live was American Ballet Theatre (ABT) performing "Swan Lake". Seeing this production made me more determined than ever to become a ballet dancer. This is still one of my favorite ballets. I had the honor of dancing the role of Prince Siegfried in "Swan Lake" Act II with both Nevada Dance Theatre and Nashville Ballet. Another of my favorite ballets to watch is George Balanchine's Neo-Classical Masterpiece, "Serenade".
Two of my favorite lead Contemporary roles to dance were, Choo-San Goh's, "In The Glow Of The Night" and Graham Lustig's, "Evening". My favorite Classical role was Prince Desire in "Aurora's Wedding" staged by Janek Schergen.
Tell us about your ABT training.
I have completed the full Certification process for The ABT Curriculum. I am Certified from Pre-Primary through Level 7 and Partnering. Just as when you are a student of dance, as a teacher I feel you are always learning. Taking the ABT course reinvigorated my love for ballet and for teaching. It refined my skills and gave me some new approaches to teaching. It also helped to clarify the FSPA syllabus and gave a clear path to progressing from a beginner to a refined advanced dancer. I am proud to be only one of three fully certified ABT Curriculum teachers in the state of Tennessee and proud to have FSPA to be the only school in the state with two certified teachers as full time faculty (myself and Miss Jackie).
Which roles have you played in the Nutcracker?
I have danced almost every role that a male dancer can dance in "The Nutcracker"; the father of Fritz and Clara (my first year with Nashville Ballet I danced the father and Miss Jana danced my daughter Clara), Soldier Doll, a rat, the Rat King, the Nutcracker Prince, the Snow King, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, the Shepard, Arabian, Lead Waltz Cavalier, the character roles of Mother Ginger and Drosselmeyer and the lead male role of the Sugar Plum Cavalier.
Learn more about Ballet Teacher Jackie Zarcone
Why do you love Ballet?
There are so many reasons why I love ballet. I initially loved the stories, costumes, pointe shoe, and tutus but as I get older the more it evolves. When I was younger it was all about getting my first pair of pointe shoes, having the prettiest costumes and performing. Now as a teacher it’s about sharing the history and traditions of ballet that have been passed down from the last couple hundreds of years and how ballet can enrich so many kids lives by giving them an outlet to express themselves. Because ballet (and other dance styles) is truly the only universal language.
What is your favorite ballet that you have ever performed or seen?
My favorite variation I've performed would be Aurora's Wedding Variation from Act 3 of Sleeping Beauty staged by Ms. Elaine Thomas in which I was a fairy for FSPA's Peter Pan (2010). The Sleeping Beauty is my favorite ballet which my biggest dream is to see it performed live by the The Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House.
Why are you drawn to the ABT training curriculum?
Mr. Thom had just been certified in pre-primary through level 3 my first year on faculty and after hearing about the program, his experience and along with my decision to teach ballet full time made me want to get certified to add to my credentials along with my BA in dance from the University of Alabama. It is allowing Mr. Thom and I to create a more unified and stronger ballet department from pre-primary through level 7 each year.
What roles have you played in the Nutcracker?
I've been a little of everything: party boy, soldiers, rats, polichinelle & Russian dolls. Also, I got to be the Sugar Plum Fairy at an in house performance and snow demi-soloist in FSPA's The Story of Oz (2009).