Yvonne Racz Key
Narrative and Interview by Ava Regina
Yvonne Racz has had a very big impact on the dance world. The first interaction I ever had with Yvonne was during the interview I conducted with her over Zoom. The tone of the interview was lighthearted and pleasant, however, I felt intimidated talking to Yvonne because of how wise and inspiring she is. She was in a dance studio during the interview and that factor was very telling about how much she loves dance and how big a difference it makes in her life.
Yvonne has grown up around dance since she was very young and dance is the only version of life that she knows. Growing up in up-state New York, Yvonne was inspired by her mother to pursue dance. Her mother started a Hungarian folk dance company. At the early age of five years old, Yvonne was put in her first ballet class. She knew that was the path she wanted to take as that was the place she felt most confident. She was so inspired by her mother and wanted to follow in her footsteps. Yvonne’s face lit up with excitement when talking about her mother. It was extremely heartwarming and made it clear that she looks up to her. The mixture of discipline and performance is what drew her in to become the dancer she is today.
Growing up, Yvonne had a very diverse schedule when it came to dance styles. She practiced all of the basic styles, including; contemporary, jazz, musical theater, and hip hop. When asked what her favorite styles are Yvonne stated she enjoys neo-classical ballet, musical theater, and folk dance. She stated that she likes the styles that are more “contemporary on pointe” rather than just the strict classical ballets. However, she does enjoy both.
After graduating from the University of Utah with a BA in dance, Yvonne went on to pursue her career dancing professionally with Maryland Ballet, Desrosiers Dance Theatre, Catanach Ballet Theatre (N.Y.), Ballet Hispanico of N.Y, Washington D.C.’s Arena Stage, and Cirque Du Soleil. She experienced many unique opportunities such as being featured in VOGUE, Dance Magazine, and more. Yvonne has so much knowledge and is a master of her craft. She has been awarded for her expertise with The Arts Alliance Dynamic Force ACE award, YWCA’s Woman of Excellence in Culture, the Louise Hopkins Underwood Arts Center’s Performing Arts Award. Each and every one of these awards are so deserving and very telling of just how wise and experienced Yvonne really is.
She explained in a TedTalk that she believes rules are set in place so that people can succeed. She compared it to ballet dancers; ballerinas have this mindset engraved into their brains and that concept is what helps make them so successful. Not only are they successful in dance, they are successful in life. She stresses that being successful does not come from money and power, it comes from a young person striving to do in life what they love. This is a great representation of Yvonne’s character. Not only does she want her students to achieve their goal as a career, she wants them to achieve what they set their minds to and be content. She explains that having the confidence to pursue something they’re passionate about with drive and without fear is what students learn through their ballet training.
When asked what skills that she’s taken from her career as a dancer and used in her choreography career, she said, musicality: “How musicality has such structures and rules to it, however at the same time, it is so expressive and free.” She feels that “being able to have a vocabulary of dance, so that I can put the choreography together is incredibly helpful.” Yvonne uses the creativity and energy of the room she’s teaching in to help her with the creative process. This is so unique and special to her choreography. This goes to show how original and personal her teaching style is. Using his technique helps her to make a connection with her students and allows students to be more present in a class.
Yvonne’s training in multiple styles helps make her passionate when creating new material. Not only are technique and musicality both important, Yvonne asserted that one of the most important elements of dance is performance. Being able to tell a story and captivate the audience is what makes dance so emotionally unique. She believes that being able to know how to tell a story with your own body and then someone being able to interpret that is very valuable. Yvonne and I agreed that dance is so much more meaningful when you can see the passion and emotion through the dancer. Being able to connect to the story that the dancer is trying to portray is truly captivating. Dance shouldn’t be just going through motions. Being able to tell a story and express your emotions takes the piece of choreography to a whole other level.
In a previous interview with Yvonne conducted by The Price Group, she stated that creativity is not an element that can be taught, but it is an element that can be nurtured. She believes that, as a teacher, it is helpful to go through a process and see where students are in terms of creativity. She explains that it is the teacher’s job to bring the creativity out of the students. This was very interesting to hear as it shows the drive and communication she has with her students to help them grow. She says, as a teacher, you should be educating your students and inspiring them. She speaks so highly of her students and has such a joyful expression while talking about them. She emphasizes that by giving her students information and knowledge, she can help them achieve creativity and, ultimately, perform their best. She explains that although she is teaching you, she wants you to be able to figure out the mechanics on your own. She wants her students to know that they are capable and that they did it on their own.
In conclusion, interviewing Yvonne Racz Key was such an amazing experience. Being able to learn and understand her point of view was very inspiring. Not only has she had an amazing career so far, she is also driven to being a great mentor to her students and future students. Yvonne’s teaching technique is very inspiring and unique and she pushes her students to the best of their abilities while also encouraging them. I am incredibly grateful that she took the time to speak with me and help me better understand the fundamentals of dance.
Videos of Yvonne Racz’s Work:
“National Visiting Fellows.” School of American Ballet, 2 Mar. 2022, https://sab.org/diversity-and-inclusion/national-visiting-fellows/.
garybainlubbock. “TEDx Lubbock Women Yvonne Racz Key.” YouTube, YouTube, 27 June 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sB8cesBw3Pc&t=117s.
“School of Theatre and Dance.” TTU, https://www.depts.ttu.edu/theatre-dance/about/leadership/faculty/racz-key-yvonne.php.