Boys Do Ballet: a Conversation With Aaron Wiggins

For today’s post, I wanted to shed some light on the talented male dancers of Live Oak Dance, and the teacher that has helped Live Oak take our boys to the next level. 

Aaron Wiggins, Marigny Opera Ballet star and our senior teacher, has been fundamental to both the creation and the development of our male dancer centered “Boy’s Class” program at Live Oak Dance.

As Live Oak Dance has grown, we have been delighted to watch our output of strong, increasingly accomplished male dancers. The boys who have graduated from our program have had incredible national opportunities and education, and their accolades only continue to grow. As matter of a fact, not only have two of our current male students been accepted to several nationally acclaimed schools for their summer intensives, but they’ve been awarded full scholarships, too!

The ballet world is ripe for the picking for male dancers. Opportunities abound for those willing to put in the time and work. The need for male dancers has always been present in both schools and companies, and the competition for these roles in the past has been sparse in comparison to that of female dancers.

For the past few years Live Oak Dance has been able to elevate the training of male dancers that join our school.  Sterling Waterfield and William Wisneskey, two of our alumni students, were accepted and moved permanently to California to study with the American Ballet Theatre Giuseppe School. We are so proud of their progress and especially thankful to Aaron and his continued support to our New Orleans ballet boys!

Here is our teacher Aaron in his own words:

Q: Could you tell us a bit about your training and career and how they’ve influenced you as a teacher?

A: I started dancing at the age of four at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Texas. While there I trained in ballet, tap, jazz, musical theatre and modern. My main ballet teacher was trained at the Vaganova school in Russia. His teacher’s teacher was actually Madame Vaganova herself so my training is very heavily influenced by that technique. I later went to attend Marymount Manhattan College where I majored in Dance and got my Bachelors of Fine Arts. While in college I performed works by several major choreographers including Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp, Loni Landon, Emery LeCrone and others.

I currently am in my second season dancing with the Marigny Opera Ballet. As a teacher I primarily teach in the Vaganova technique of ballet. Having trained by my very strict (and old school) Russian teacher I was instilled with a strong sense of discipline. In teaching however, I feel that I have adapted to my own form of a good balance of discipline and fun. After all, dancing should be fun. 😉 

Q: What’s your favorite thing about teaching?

 A: My favorite thing about teaching is seeing my students improve. Specifically, I love that Live Oak offers levels for all ages so it’s nice to see my younger students grow as well as my adult students improve over time. I have been dancing my whole life and believe that what you learn in the studio translates to almost all aspects of your life so I am very grateful that I can to carry on the legacy of ballet and pass on my knowledge. 

Q: What interests do you have outside of dance?

 A: Almost all of my interests revolve around the creative arts. When I’m not dancing/teaching I like to paint, crochet, make dream catchers, garden, play music, and learn how to create more things. I don’t watch much T.V. However, I love Jeopardy! 

Q: What’s been your favorite moment as an artist?

 A: I once had a family friend come to one of my performances and brought her young son. The day after the show she sent me a video of him in the back yard trying to imitate my movement and dancing. He continued to ask questions about dance and said he “didn’t know boys could dance too”. Seeing him light up and be inspired by my dancing was really special. 

Q: Any quick words of advice to your students?

A: Follow your passions and continue taking class! As I mentioned above, I believe taking ballet/ dance classes establish a sense of discipline that translates into any other field you want to go into. Also make sure you have fun in dance, push through the hard days, and pointe your toes!