Arleen Sugano, or Miss "A,” as affectionately dubbed by her students, has led a highly distinguished career performing and teaching dance all over the world. She developed her professional skills early in her pre-teen years in her mother’s ballet school, at the time the largest in Hawaii, and performed on Hawaiian television for eight seasons. In the continental United States she was a member of the Pacific Ballet in San Francisco while she was working on her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Berkeley. Before receiving her Masters in Dance Choreography from the University of Iowa Ms. Sugano toured nationally and internationally with seven companies of A Chorus Line.
In New York City, Ms. Sugano was an instructor at the Joffrey Ballet School for three and a half years while also teaching at the Rod Rodgers Modern Dance Company, the American Academy of Dramatic Art, and the Gallatin Division of New York University. Additionally, she has been a guest lecturer at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan, presenting the Joffrey III Company in a series of lecture-demonstrations. Outside of New York Ms. Sugano has taught at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the Lula Washington Dance Company and School in Los Angeles, California, the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas, and the National Ballet of Korea in Seoul. Students of Ms. Sugano include seven-time national gold medalist Aya Noma in Japan and country music star Shania Twain.
As an educator, Ms. Sugano has devoted a tremendous amount of energy towards a streamlined ballet pedagogy that produces healthier and stronger dancers. Using her methods, she was able to restructure the technique of one of her students, Courtney Walrath, so that she could forego a doctor-recommended knee surgery (he said she would never dance again without it) for a debilitating condition that was caused by inefficient technique. Courtney danced seven seasons with Ballet Quad Cities in Illinois, and is currently serving as Associate Director of the company.
In the course of researching her new dance technology (SuganoSystemBallet), Ms. Sugano has collaborated with dance physicist Dr. Kenneth Laws, constructing a special ballet barre rigged with sensors and a computer to measure the different forces a dancer uses while dancing the barre portion of class. Using data from this experiment and many others the two have presented their findings at the first National Dance Association pedagogy conference as well as lecturing for four consecutive years at the Performing Arts Medicine Conference. She has also published some of these findings in the Medical Problems of Performing Artists journal in an article that spotlights turning technique.