Dance instructor Diana Macneil educates on dancer Bella Lewitzky
On Thursday, May 6, as the clock strikes 10:30 a.m., a room of dancers and onlookers gathered into an intimate group. Diana MacNeil, a dance instructor, educates the group about the modern dancer Bella Lewitzky at the Santa Monica College Dance Masters class. The entire lesson focused on the dance techniques that Lewitzsky left within dance culture. "She left a legacy of an enormous commitment to the development and teaching of dance as an example to other movement artists," said MacNeil. "Her choreography and composition methods were very influential on the dance-making of the late 20th century; the Horton technique would have also developed very differently without her input."
MacNeil has been taking formal dance lessons since the age of eight. She started teaching at the Orange School of Dance in Orange County at 12, but at 18 she tackled the technique of modern dance teaching under the guidance of Bella Lewitzsky herself.
"Upon joining the Lewitzky Dance Company, I studied with her for one month at a summer workshop in Idyllwild because I knew she had a company and I was looking to make a professional career," MacNeil said.
During the lesson, participants were taught a composition inspired by Lewitzky. Dancers started with basic movements that quickly turned vigorous, yet the dancers never showed signs of struggle and continued to commit to each step under MacNeil's guidance. Each movement emphasized on postures, which transformed the movements like a puzzle when the steps were put together.
The steps continued to grow harder and quicker, with a majority of the movements relying on minor, intriguing steps. Extensions in the hips and toes were the common movements dancers relied on in order to fully commit to each step, which—while not easy, the dancers inspired MacNeil to blurt out, "I'm impressed here!" Although the talent in the room impressed MacNeil, the steps were so difficult that one dancer admitted, "I keep thinking about the steps instead of just freely doing them."
The entire session demonstrated the eloquent techniques that Lewitzky introduced to the world of dance. Each dancer that participated in the class pushed their bodies to the limit. MacNeil explained to those participating that Lewitzky focused more on the "connection" rather than the dance steps themselves.
"I wanted to give the students a feeling for the Lewitzky technique; it's vigorous and fulfilling movement style, as well as an awareness of Bella and her place in Modern Dance history, especially here in California," said MacNeil. "There is a lot of good dance here, and Lewitzky's technique is a great way to train the body and mind, and enhance the study of many dance forms.."