On my run this morning I started thinking that my exercise routine has become pretty…well, “routine”. I run down the same streets, past the same houses without even thinking. Nothing changes. My brain and body both have it memorized; even my pedometer gives the same reading. I get great cardio, burn calories, feel good, but where’s the challenge? Where’s the fun? Do I need something new?
I talked to a woman last week who expressed a frustration in her current fitness regimen. She said, “I’m in an exercise rut. Can you help me?“ Another woman told me she was looking for something new and fun to re-invigorate her workout. “I want to challenge my brain and my body,” she said.
Ruts happen. And unless you’re that rare person who can do the same thing over and over, day in and day out, without losing interest or enthusiasm, staying motivated and engaged in your workout is difficult. The solution is different for everyone, but maybe it’s time to try something new. Take the BCS 4-week Course Challenge! The Butler Community School has 12 different Dance & Fitness courses beginning this week that will get you moving while learning something new and having fun. Mix up your routine. Try something different. Keep it fresh!
From Tap dance for beginners, to Hula, Yoga, Pilates-based courses, and Boot Camps; early morning, lunch time, and evening. Each course offers motivation, accountability, and camaraderie; three ingredients that will help infuse your workout.
There’s also the group aspect. One of the great things about a group is that if you show up half asleep at an early morning boot camp, or exhausted at the end of a long work day, once you join the group, you become re-energized. With a friendly instructor to challenge and motivate you, it can’t get any better. Or maybe it can; the power of the group! Nothing brings people together quite like learning together, pressing through muscle burn, or reaching a goal. Whether learning to tap or being pushed to your cardio limit, taking a BCS course will provide opportunity to develop a common bond while getting into the best shape possible. Give it 4 weeks…
Need to get out of the exercise rut? The solution might be as simple as taking a BCS Course. Sign up today. Maybe you’ll see me there!
This is the last in a three-part profile series on Butler Community School attendees and their favorite classes.
As the Schools Communication Associate, I spend a lot of my day talking with people about everything we have to offer at the Butler Community School. From Broadway Jazz and Yoga to Hula and Zumba, there’s so much going on that I pretty much live and breathe BCS. At the end of the day, you may think the last thing I’d want to do is actually take a class … but that’s exactly what I do!
Talking with some of our regulars and finding out what they love about our classes at BCS made me realize that I’m just as much of a regular as they are… Most weeks you can find me taking Ballet Fit, Arms & Abs, Yoga, Zumba and Pilates Cardio.
All of the classes I take on a regular basis lean more towards fitness than dance, but I still absolutely love them. This really surprised me because in the past, exercise was always something I dreaded doing. In fact, if I could, I would find any excuse not to do it.
I think the thing that makes the difference here is I never feel like I’m exercising. One of my favorite classes is Ballet Fit. The class mixes basic ballet technique with strengthening and toning exercises. After a plié combination at the bar, you’ll hit the floor for a series of abdominal exercises that you’ll definitely feel the next day. Every class is different so you never get bored or feel like you’re always doing the same routine.
Despite it being an incredible workout, the thing I like most is that I always feel like I am indulging my inner child. And trust me, she always gets a kick out of pretending to be a graceful swan. Elise and Emily, the instructors for Ballet Fit, are always encouraging and really strive to make sure that everyone’s having fun during the workout. Thanks to their upbeat personalities and the nature of the workout, I feel energized every time I walk out of a class. Who wouldn’t want to be a beautiful swan with killer abs?
“I am not a rich Aunt from New York City…but I played one on stage!”
That’s just one of the characters BCS Musical Theatre Workshop participant Sabrina Vega has played. She has been Ms. Hannigan from ANNIE in last year’s Broadway in May, Aunt Sophie in Holiday Road, and yes, rich Aunt Betty in Magic in Manhattan.
Every fall and spring the Butler Community School offers a Musical Theatre Performance Workshop that culminates in an onstage production in Ballet Austin’s AustinVentures StudioTheater. Community theatre at its best! This spring there are over 80 participants from age 8 to 58 who will be performing in the upcoming musical Broadway in May//Broadway Today. Sabrina is back again for a 4th time.
Here’s what Sabrina had to say about why she loves this workshop and why she thinks everyone should come see the show!
“I am excited about Broadway in May. What a great opportunity to perform songs, dances, and scenes that are on Broadway stages today! I think everyone who is in the cast has a dream, or a secret desire, to perform on Broadway. This workshop, and the performances in a real theater, gives us the opportunity to fulfill that dream. I love the process of creating pieces from Broadway shows into something of our own through original choreography and interpretation. This spring, Broadway Today takes many shows from the Great White Way and combines them all into one musical theatre review. What fun it has been for cast members to find a show or song that calls to them, and then perform it. This opportunity brings out the best in me; gives me a chance to try something new and fun. It also gives the audience a peek at what shows are on stage today in New York City. There’s something for everyone, even a sing along! Broadway in May//Broadway Today will include serious social issues, hilarious fun, classic characters, and endless entertainment on many levels.
I am not a rich Aunt from New York City…but you will see me in the opening CHICAGO number, ADDAMS FAMILY, BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON, JERSEY BOYS, BEATLES, ANYTHING GOES, and more. Don’t miss it!”
This is part two of a three-part profile series on Butler Community School attendees and their favorite classes. Check back in next Thursday for part three!
In the lobby and hallways of Ballet Austin, waiting parents is a very familiar sight. For many of them, Ballet Austin has become like a second home because their children take class in the Academy as many as six days a week! One of those waiting parents, Deb Haas, decided to use that time for herself, and signed up for yoga classes at the Butler Community School. Here’s what she had to say:
“As a working mom, squeezing in time for exercise was always challenging, so the idea that I could use my time waiting for my daughter in a productive way by taking a fitness class really appealed to me. I had back surgery several years prior to starting my yoga classes at the BCS, and had lost a lot of range of motion and flexibility.
My favorite classes are definitely the yoga classes taught by Michelle Thompson and Zakkiyah Kareem. They are both such great teachers, and have so much patience. However my day had gone up until that point, it immediately improves when I sit down on my yoga mat.
Since I started taking yoga regularly at the BCS, all of my back pain has gone away, and my strength and stamina have really improved. Michellle and Zakiyyah are wonderful – and I really miss seeing them if I don’t make it to class, and I can tell both mentally and physically that I just don’t feel as good.
Taking yoga class with members of the Ballet Austin Company and staff is such a fun thing. I’m certainly not in the same kind of physical shape that they are – but there is absolutely no judging or competition in the yoga classes, which makes me feel very comfortable and at home. When I don’t make it to class, one of the regulars will often stop me in the hall and say ‘missed you last class’ – and it just adds to that good feeling that I get from participating.”
This is part one of a three-part profile series on Butler Community School attendees and their favorite classes. Check back in next Thursday for part two!
Since the opening of the Butler Community School in 2007, over 2,500 people have participated EACH year in the wide range of dance and fitness classes, courses and camps that the BCS offers. People of all ages come to the BCS for an ever-changing, wide variety of reasons – many are looking to dance and have fun, while hopefully learning something new along the way. Others often have fitness on the brain and just want to get some exercise in an encouraging group setting.
You’d think it would be simple to tell the difference between these two groups, but it’s actually much harder than you would think. Whether you walk by a Hip Hop class or a Pilates Mat class, you will always see smiling, laughing people. As the Schools Communications Associate, I wanted to find out why people were having so much fun – even while exercising! This week, I decided to ask one of our BCS regulars, Patty Koebele. Patty, who signed up for a Pilates Mat Course on the suggestion of a friend, now takes four courses AND has an unlimited BCS Class-Card. Here’s what Patty had to say about what brought her to the BCS, as well as her experience since then:
“I had just finished a round of physical therapy for severe back issues and I wanted to augment that with additional core strengthening, which Pilates provides. I was thrilled with the amount of pain relief I received from the Pilates exercises. I am very pleased with the strength, control, and flexibility I have gained. As a woman, I also prefer the longer, leaner muscles I am building, which still provide strength without the bulk.”
“Currently, my favorite classes are Ballet Fit and Pilates, but I also take Yoga and Zumba. I take classes or courses most days of the week and there are several reasons I keep coming back. First, I have to say the instructors are absolutely phenomenal! Their knowledge and experience are only surpassed by the fact that they really care about the students. I have now come to consider them friends and truly appreciate everything I have learned from them. Secondly, at BCS I have met some amazing fellow students with whom I laugh and have a ton of fun! Finally, I [am never] bored. The variety is stimulating and each class has music that makes the exercise or workout fun.”
“I initially came to BCS to glean relief from a back problem, but I have gained so much more. Through my experience at BCS, I not only feel better, am healthier, have added to my quality of life, have increased my life expectancy and hopefully even look better, but I am having a great time! I truly appreciate the staff, dancers, and students. There is something for everybody at BCS.”
There’s something about cute little penguins dancing that makes me smile. If you saw the movie Happy Feet you know what I mean. The cuddly, cheerful penguin Mumble can’t sing (are penguins supposed to be able to sing?), but can dance (although not encouraged in the penguin world). Mumble dances with joy and enthusiasm. And we smile.
I don’t tap. I don’t even dance. I lean more towards the athlete (and I use that term loosely) column than the dancer column. But I have great appreciation for the physical abilities of dancers, and I love to watch dance. As Director of Programming for the Butler Community School (BCS) I try to watch the dance classes as often as I can. Recently I watched a few tap classes. There is something exciting about the sound of metal taps on a floor; about dancing and creating music simultaneously; about the joy and enthusiasm I see on faces. Tap is a ‘feel-good’ dance; happy feet! It makes me smile.
Last week I peeked in on the BCS Kid’s Zone tap class, and also watched the teen/adult advanced tap. The other night, while watching the tappers in the BCS Musical Theatre Workshop rehearse a number from Anything Goes for the upcoming performance of Broadway in May, memories of Mitzi Gaynor and Bing Crosby came flooding back. It made me smile. The Broadway in May tappers were having the time of their lives. I had to ask them, “What makes you so happy when you tap?”
Mary Kinney takes BCS Tap classes with Danny Herman and is also enrolled in the BCS Musical Theatre Workshop. She has this to say about tap, “Tap is a fun way to get an amazing workout. I love making music with my feet! Tap is a great stress relief!”
Scout Wilkinson said, “I’ve been tapping on and off for 10 years (Which is 3/4 of my lifetime). Tap class is the highlight of my week. Danny Herman is so fun. He always praises us, even if it’s just for trying to master a step we’re not quite skilled enough to actually do. Even when we’re working hard it’s always okay for us to joke and laugh with each other. I’m sure I’ll never find a tap class that I love more. Tap makes me smile.”
So come tap away your stress, get an amazing workout, have fun, smile, and make music with your happy feet!
Ballet is what we’re generally known for, and ballet we have! Adults of any age and experience level can take a ballet class at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School (BCS). There’s also Ballet Fit, Broadway Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Tap, Hula, Modern and more. While every class has its fans and faithful attenders, it’s the 8:30pm hip hop crowd that has caught my attention. What brings 30 plus people downtown late on a Tuesday or Thursday night to take a hip hop class? Some say it’s the workout, some say the music, or the new style of hip hop that spans genres, but the biggest attraction for many people, and why they keep coming back, is the unique personality and style of instructor Shepherd Allen.
Shepherd’s passion and sense of fun, combined with his experience and great ability to teach, bring people back week after week. He keeps the class funky and fresh. Shepherd was a finalist for Season 4 of So You Think You Can Dance (top 80), but his current mission is to bring the fun back to dance. Original choreography using the music of today’s hottest contemporary artists, combined with a high energy funky attitude, is sure to hook you. Hip Hop is for all ages and dance backgrounds, and can be learned and enjoyed by anyone who just wants to get up and dance. Shepherd’s invitation is this, “Bring your attitude, the more attitude the better, and plan for as much fun as you can possibly fit into an hour.”
I love watching our kids explore the many-faceted world of dance.
One of the greatest joys for me as Schools Director is to watch our students explore the world of dance. Many try multiple styles of dance, combining of the codified syllabus of Ballet Austin Academy with the many varied offerings of the Butler Community School. A great example is Georgia Brinkman who just finished performing with Ballet Austin in La Sylphide. She is an accomplished young ballet dancer, but when she takes down her bun and replaces her pointe shoes with character shoes, I see a budding musical theatre performer. Each experience compliments the other and ultimately creates a more versatile performer.
Georgia Brinkman performs in Magic in Manhattan
This spring we will launch the latest addition to Ballet Austin’s roster of kid’s camps, The Broadway Kids. The camp is for kids ages 5-10 and will introduce a whole new generation to the joy of musical theatre. With every new venture, I see the opportunity to ignite a spark in the minds of the participants. When my daughter Madison was five she participated in a Broadway musical theatre camp. In the years that have followed, she has taken more dance classes than I can count. She has studied voice and performed a multitude of monologues. Her love of musical theatre has turned her passion into an aspiration to perform professionally. This fall she leaves for college as a musical theatre major. The spark ignited 13 years ago has started her down a very exciting path. Once lit, the possibilities are limitless…
When discussions began at Ballet Austin about relocating from our longtime home in an historic firehouse near the University of Texas campus, there were countless motivations at play. One of the paramount goals was to house all of the things we do – our Academy, our open Butler Community School classes, the professional Company, and the artistic and administrative staffs – under one roof. And when the leadership and Board of Ballet Austin located a former printing warehouse in the heart of a burgeoning entertainment district in downtown Austin, they knew that this building could not only meet that goal, but that it also had the potential bring dance to a much wider audience in Austin.
At that point, though, it was still just a warehouse with the lingering scent of printing ink. So we enlisted the help of the architect Marla Bommarito and the Bommarito Group to help transform an industrial space into one that could accommodate the many facets of Ballet Austin. Marla and her team laid out a plan that included cutting many windows into the exterior walls, as well as building studios with windows to the corridors in the building. This makes for an environment in which, no matter where you are in the building, you can see dance happening at all times of the day. On top of that, the plan included a 287-seat theater, offices, and wonderful public spaces. Out of this plan, and the generous donations of hundreds of Ballet Austin supporters, the Butler Dance Education Center was born.
As proud as we are of our building, we did not have a way to show the life of the building to those who haven’t had a chance to visit. And as much as we love the beautiful pictures we have, we wanted movement. So we enlisted the help of longtime friends and collaborators, photographer and director of photography Andrew Yates of Andrew Yates Photography and Beef and Pie productions along with editor Ariel Quintans of Beast Editorial, to produce a video that shows the life of the spaces that we are fortunate enough to inhabit every day. Although I am of course biased, I think the result is incredible. Check out the video above for a virtual tour of our downtown Austin home, the Butler Dance Education Center.