David was internationally renowned ballet master, and quite the character, teaching class at Steps on Broadway some 6 days a week. He also taught at Broadway Dance Center and Manhattan Movement Arts Center. In addition to his busy teaching schedule, he coached many illustrious performers, created dance instructional videos and music CD's, as well as leading Teacher's Training Courses and Summer Intensive Programs. He was his own brand; an impresario of the knowledge of the theatre.
His "official bio" reads:
David Howard’s career began as a child performer in radio shows and commercials. Working as a principal dancer at London’s Palladium Theatre he was honored by appearing in a Royal Command Performance before Queen Elizabeth II. He later joined Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet, now The Royal Ballet and was promoted to soloist status. Mr. Howard danced with the National Ballet of Canada, appeared in London’s West End musicals, among them Bob Fosse’s Little Me, performed in cabaret throughout Europe and was featured in many television productions.
After a successful performing career and at the invitation of Rebekah Harkness, Mr. Howard came to New York in 1966 to teach and later direct the Harkness Ballet School. In 1977 he opened his own school on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, adjacent to Lincoln Center. On any given day, scattered among the serious ballet students who found their way to David’s barré, one could plie, tendu and pirouette next to the most elite in the field. Makarova, Baryshnikov, Gelsey Kirkland, Cynthia Harvey, members of England’s Royal Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet and numerous other companies throughout the world have made David the most sought after teacher. Since closing his school in 1995, he has traveled the world giving master classes to ballet companies, their affiliated schools, independent schools universities and regional festivals. He has coached many successful competition winners and given private lessons to television and motion picture stars.
Mr. Howard’s kinesthetic approach eliminates much of the tension, and resulting injury associated with technique as traditionally taught. He has consulted with physical therapists, chiropractors, and nutritionists in an aim to promote total care of the dancer. His teacher’s training seminars have attracted high attendance worldwide.
It is impressive to read of all that he has done and certainly many of us would die for even a day of his career, but I think beyond his resume we have the fact that he so personally and deeply touched so many dancers. You can rest assured that nearly every dancer in New York City can remember his gentle clapping to the music, and have been touched either directly through his class, or through another teacher who came under his tutelage.
I remember taking his class and being so nervous back in 2007. I had come form professional work as a modern dancer, with little serious ballet training. Nevertheless, I had changed course, and was preparing to go to my first ever Ballet Summer Intensive. I was so nervous -- and had made a venture over to Steps which was known for challenging classes and did I ever feel out of place. I introduced myself and his reply was, "well go on then, throw yourself to the barre." His British accent and casual air threw me off and I laughed out loud. He came right to the barre in his gym shoes and started off in his lilting, sing song voice.
Shortly after my return from my Summer Intensive, David fell ill and his protege, Gelsey Kirkland, came to Steps to teach in his absence. It was through Gelsey that I learned more intimately of David's influence on her virtuosic dancing. She spoke of his ideas almost constantly and particularly to the use of circular patterns and of the dynamics in the music inherent to the art of dance.
Since that time, David has been a permanent fixture in my life. Every day he would be there sitting on his spot on the bench there in the studio -- and even though my schedule took me into different classes, I will always fondly remember his clapping and his imperative to "go to a very high place". Every now and then he would sit you down and tell you some fantastic theater tale about Gelsey or Misha or Sadler's Wells or even, the Queen of England! In another mood, he'd give you a piece of his mind! LOL!
Even outside of a dance studio David was supportive and caring of dancers. David and his companion visited a restaurant where I was working a few blocks from Steps one evening for dinner. He remembered me immediately and when I approached his table to take his order, he lit up and said "how is the new ballerina"? He then proceeded to have a lovely Italian meal, leaving an over-generous tip.
This illustrates what so many of us know to be true of David: He was a giver. His generosity, his sense of humor, and his ability to show up, rain or shine, to lead us to a higher understanding of the world of the theatre will live with us all forever. For those who were lucky to work intimately with his teaching, the fruits of his labor are ever clear. And for those who were only visitors to his classes, or to Steps, his presence will be ever felt.
It is with great respect and care that we can offer David a deep bow of reverance, as he ascends to his own very high place.
To contribute to a Memorial Plaque in David's memory, approved by Steps on Broadway to be placed at his favorite bench, please go here.