WILHELM BURMANN

Ballet teacher WILHELM BURMANN


Wilhelm Burmann’s morning class at Steps on Broadway on the Upper West Side could very well be called “Training with the Stars.” Five days a week, a glittering assortment of extraordinary dancers is in attendance, from loyal veterans such as Alessandra Ferri and Wendy Whelan to those who herald the next generation—Alicia Graf, Herman Cornejo, David Hallberg, Maria Kowroski. Julio Bocca, the longtime star of American Ballet Theatre, is personally coached by Burmann, who is just as elegant as the dancers who grace his crowded class. They are all there to work, and the master teacher—who danced with both New York City Ballet and Frankfurt Ballet, but isn’t affiliated with any company now—works them hard. He is known for giving a fast, demanding class with little room for coddling. “People trust me, and that is a chemistry that one cannot really explain,” Burmann, 66, says. “I feel I can give much more as a teacher than I could as a dancer. As a dancer, it had to be perfect, and it never felt perfect, so that was very frustrating. I really enjoyed dancing very late in my career. It all made sense one night, and it felt great, but until then, it didn’t. That’s what I’m trying to teach people—not to get to the point when things go wrong.”—Gia Kourlas

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