José Carreño had his hands full Sunday afternoon as dozens of young dancers vied for a spot in his ballet classes this summer in Sarasota.
A teaching component of the Carreño Dance Festival, the 2012 Summer Intensive program runs Aug. 5 to Aug. 25, operating out of studios at the Sarasota Opera House and the newly opened Sarasota Cuban Ballet School on Beneva Road.
Last year, the school enrolled 56 students. In an effort to double that number, Carreño and festival CEO Robert de Warren have held auditions in cities all over the country, including Winston Salem, N.C., New York City and Los Angeles.
As clusters of nervous dancers streamed in and out of the Cuban Ballet School, Carreño, who retired in July from American Ballet Theatre, found a quiet place in the courtyard to slip into leg warmers and lace up his shoes.
“The most important thing,” Carreño says, “is to teach students how to move from the studio to the stage. The academic steps are the same everywhere. I teach students to not be tense, to loosen up and enjoy what they’re doing. If you’re stiff and suffering on stage, people will be stiff and suffering in the audience. It’s the most difficult thing for ballet dancers, learning how to move like a free bird.”