A few weeks ago, we hosted our 4th annual Come Dance! celebration. Over 1,000 people streamed through our doors that Sunday to participate in over 18 different FREE dance classes, including 7 new ones. The day offered something for everybody – from West African Dance to Ballet. Check out a few snapshots from the day below, and make sure to check out our BCS Drop-In Class Schedule to see when you can try out a few classes on your own.
Our NEW! West African Dance, taught by instructor Jean-Claude Lessou.
Ballet, taught by Company Dancer & BCS Instructor Orlando Canova.
Our NEW! Turbo-Kick (cool down phase), taught by our certified instructor Brittany Harpole.
Our NEW! Rhythm Tap, taught by instructor Tony Merriwether.
If you loved Beyoncé at the 2011 Video Music Awards, and if you want to have fun learning the choreography of Beyoncé’s Run the World (Girls), then you won’t want to miss Videodance: Beyoncé!
Every Wednesday from 7:15 – 8:30, instructor Kody Jauron will offer a few weeks of choreography focusing on one song of one artist; artists such as Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Britney Spears.
Each class will start with a short warm-up and then move into a fun and fast-paced class learning choreography from the latest and hottest music video hits. Attend once or come every week. Videodance is open to all levels.
Fall registration for the 2011/12 Academy school year is in full swing, and the Academy has something to offer every student, beginning as young as even 3 years old.
Creative Movement classes, designed for children ages 3-5, take the approach of “creative play” and are designed to hone motor skills, while educating children on movement. Classes meet once a week and offer “movement stories and ballet-based activities” appropriate for both boys and girls.
When children turn 5, they and their parents are given the option of moving onto our Pre-Ballet program, which is open to children ages 5-7. Pre-Ballet is more structured than creative movement, and serves as a transition between Creative Movement and when formal training begins at age 8, in Level 1.
In both our Creative Movement and Pre-Ballet programs, faculty in the Ballet Austin Academy place high emphasis on curriculum and age-appropriate teaching. Through these classes, we provide a place for children to not only have fun, but also take the opportunity to prepare themselves for a quality dance education. We believe that upholding excellence and professionalism starts with providing quality dance instruction at the youngest age possible.
At age 8, students may join Level 1 in the Lower School, marking their first step to professional ballet training. This age and level also mean another very special landmark: the age where Academy students have the opportunity to be cast in The Nutcracker! Each year, over 200 Academy students are cast our annual production exclusively.
If you are interested in enrolling your child, please check the Ballet Austin Academy‘s website for more detailed information, including new student registration forms.
Please note: students new to Ballet Austin but with prior experience, who are 8 and older, are required to attend a placement class. Dates, times and other important details are below.
August 20, 2011 Ages 8-12 | 2-3:30pm Ages 13 and older | 3:30-5pm Note: Please arrive 30 minutes early for check-in
Thanks to everyone who came to Ballet Austin this past Saturday and donated their time, money and dancing moves for National Dance Day! With your help and participation, we were able to raise over $1,000 for our scholarship program. Included in the crowd was CultureMap Austin’s Michael Graupmann who, despite not donning his dance shoes, reported and recorded the event. Check out Michael’s article on National Dance Day, complete with video of the lively Kathryn Waggoner.
Too busy to make it out this past weekend? Worry not.
At the end of this month, we are hosting our own annual day of dance, Come Dance! 2011, on Aug. 28 and EVERY class is FREE. Come help us celebrate our fourth anniversary in the Butler Dance Education Center. Check out the link above for more details!
If you’re reading this, you’ve managed to survived the 100+ degree temperatures July has hit us with every single day this month. Congratulations!
Because we know just how hard it is to enjoy just about anything in this oven-like heat, Ballet Austin and Austin Film Festival are teaming up one last time this Sunday to bring you the final film in our Dance Film Series, “Center Stage”. Cinephiles and dancers alike won’t want to miss this event! Your $10 admission to the film not only guarantees you a seat in our perfectly air-conditioned AustinVentures StudioTheater, but it also gets you a spot on the dance floor in our Ballet class, taught by Ballet Austin Company member Chris Swaim. What could be better than a movie AND a chance to get some exercise away from the glaring rays of the Texas sun? Scroll down for more information on “Center Stage”, the Ballet class, Sunday’s instructor Chris Swaim and an article about the event published in the Austin Post.
Center Stage (2000) For most of her young adult life, Jody Sawyer has dreamed of becoming one of American Ballet Company’s “perfect little ballerinas” and now she is going to get her shot. The only problem is many others share that same dream and she find herself competing with them all. Center Stage allowed audiences to enter the world of Ballet and understand the rigors and stress that these young adults must endure to be successful while at the same time managing the burden and complications of coming into their own.
Our Ballet classintroduces basic ballet vocabulary and steps. If you have always wanted to learn ballet, or if you took ballet as a child years ago, this is a great class. Classes are set to live accompaniment. Much of the class includes barre work with an introduction to dancing center floor.
Christopher Swaim, BCS Instructor and Company member,
is originally from Bryant, AR, where he began his training with Kirt and Linda Hathaway at the Academy of Ballet Arkansas. After graduating with distinction from the University of Oklahoma with a B.F.A. in Ballet Pedagogy, he joined Ballet Austin II in 2004 before joining Ballet Austin in 2006. Mr. Swaim has danced principal roles in The Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, The Nutcracker, and Valse Fantasie, and has been featured in works by George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, Stephen Mills, Thaddeus Davis, Amy Seiwert, James Clouser, Sidra Bell, Miguel Terekhov, Septime Webre, Nelly Van Bommel, Gina Patterson, Nicolo Fonte, and Ben Stevenson. He has also performed at the 2010 San Francisco International Arts Festival as a guest with Amy Seiwert’s company im’ij-re and with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet at the Kennedy Center in 2008. Mr. Swaim teaches in the Butler Community School and across Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.
Are you a So You Think You Can Dance fan? If so, you’re probably aware by now that the second annual National Dance Day is rapidly approaching. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, mark your calendars because on July 30th, people around the country will strap on their dancing shoes and learn choreography created by three celebrity choreographers – Mary Murphy, Robin Antin and the duo behind NappyTabs.
Ballet Austin is incredibly excited to be the local venue and host for National Dance Day. On that Saturday, we will still be offering all of our regularly scheduled classes but will ALSO offer three event-specific classes (broken down by skill level), where your favorite BA instructors teach the choreography created for this national celebration. All ages and skill levels are welcome, and a $5 minimum (per class) tax-deductible donation is all that’s asked for admission for all classes. You don’t even need to worry about your class card. Just check out the schedule for that day, show up at the BCS, give your donation and start dancing!
Ballet Austin’s Featured “National Dance Day” Classes:
This is the last in a four-part blog series about our annual Summer Intensive program. This week, our Associate Artistic Director Michelle Martin discusses the mindset of students and BA artistic staff during the last week of Session One.
As we move into the third week of our Summer Intensive, there is a noticeable shift in the energy and pace of our studio process. The end of this week marks the close of the first session and there is a heightened sense of urgency, both in preparations for the performances on Friday, as well as the departure of some of our students.
Mr. Mills and I have spent the last 2.5 weeks teaching, rehearsing and observing our students and have started to compile a short list of dancers who we think would be a good fit for our Trainee Program or for a contract with Ballet Austin II. Though the extended audition process is understandably nerve-wracking for the students, it gives us the opportunity, in essence, to “read between the lines” of a dancer’s nervousness. We have begun to recognize which elements, both positive and negative, are most representative of each dancer’s work on an ongoing basis, an assessment that is highly significant when we are considering an extended commitment.
Those who are departing at the end of this session will have a conference with me before they leave during which I will talk to them about what possibilities are likely for them here. Though our short list is a clear sign that we’ve begun to discern our strongest candidates, definitive offers, particularly for Ballet Austin II contracts, will not be made until we are midway through the second session. This not only allows fair consideration of dancers who we will not see until Session Two begins next Monday, it also affords the opportunity for first session dancers who continue into the second session to assert themselves. Every year there are at least one or two students whose work in the final weeks of the program substantially distinguishes them, and they end up with an invitation to stay at Ballet Austin for the year.
The second round of students will will arrive this next Monday, beginning their registration and placement classes in the afternoon. We look forward to meeting them!
Yesterday evening at 5 p.m., Ballet Austin staff, Board members and supporters gathered in the board room upstairs to celebrate the ten-year contract renewal of Cookie Ruiz and Stephen Mills, Ballet Austin’s Executive and Artistic Directors, respectively.
In addition to signing their contracts, the Ballet Austin Board also made a surprise announcement about their decision to dedicate the newest dance studio to Cookie and Stephen. The studio will aptly be named the “Mills/Ruiz Legacy Studio”. You can see a mockup of the plaque that will hang outside the studio below.
Cookie and Stephen have held their leadership posts here at BA for a successful 13 and 10 years, respectively, and here at Ballet Austin, we personally cannot wait for another 10 more. Congratulations to the both of you!
This is the third in a four-part blog series about our annual Summer Intensive program. This week, our Associate Artistic Director Michelle Martin, took some time to detail what our Artistic Staff looks for from students during the intensive.
It’s hard to believe we’re already half-way through the first session of the Summer Intensive and well into the process of selecting dancers for our year-round programs. Students in Levels 7 and 8 who are, at a minimum, seniors in high school are eligible for consideration for either our Trainee Program or a contract with Ballet Austin II (BAII), our second company/apprentice program. Our Artistic Director, Stephen Mills, and I are committed to identifying and inviting dancers who are a good fit for our programs, meaning that they will benefit from their experience here, and Ballet Austin will benefit from their contribution. There are many factors to consider, starting with a solid foundation in classical ballet technique. Many of the dancers who come here have had training in a ballet curriculum that is different than the technique and aesthetic that we teach. Training is usually quite firmly entrenched in muscle memory and it can be challenging to adjust to the new concepts that we introduce, so much of what Mr. Mills and I are assessing is a dancer’s willingness to explore, and capacity to adapt to other ideas. To help us evaluate this more quickly, all of the Level 7 and 8 ballet technique classes are taught by me, Mr. Mills or our Rehearsal Director, Allisyn Paino.
In addition to strong classical technique, a contract with BAII also requires that dancers have an interest and a developing aptitude for contemporary movement, particularly as it relates to Ballet Austin’s repertoire. This is easiest to assess by having the dancers learn, rehearse and perform some choreographic excerpts from our work. As the dancers learn the material we are able to glean a lot of important information. Beyond capability with a particular movement style, we can get a sense as to how quickly a dancer learns, how they observe and absorb nuance and detail, and how independent they are about refining what they’ve learned. We can also see how they interact in a collaborative environment – with their peers, with a partner – as well as how they approach the rehearsal process.
This process of selection is challenging on both ends, for the dancers who are participating in this ongoing audition, and for those of us responsible for program placement. We are evaluating technical strength and physical conditioning, personal motivations and work ethic, and the subjective considerations of artistry and aesthetic. Though it’s not easy, it’s a method that has created opportunity for many dancers and for Ballet Austin over the past decade, and we are committed to continuing this process for each new group of Summer Intensive dancers.
This is the second in a four-part blog series about our annual Summer Intensive program. This week, I shadowed summer intensive attendee Nicole Douglas, 18, who joins us from Ashland, Massachusetts. Nicole auditioned for the Ballet Austin Summer Intensive in New York City, and will be with us for the remainder of the summer participating in the 6-week program. I spent Wednesday photographing Nicole during her day at Ballet Austin. Here’s what she had to say about her day:
My schedule at Ballet Austin differs a little every day. We have ballet class each day, and then go into a variety of other classes ranging from Pilates to technique-focused dance classes. Yesterday was an especially long day because I had pointe, Pilates and then a two and a half hour repertoire class all following my daily ballet class. My day started around 9:45 when I arrived at Ballet Austin and found an empty studio in which I could warm up.
Around 10:30, I went to ballet in the AustinVentures StudioTheater. I really like our daily ballet class because it provides the opportunity for me to focus mainly on my technique. Stephen Mills teaches a very different style of ballet from what I am used to, but I am really enjoying this new style and am happy to be re-training my body to do new things. We also do center of ballet class on pointe, which at times can be difficult but I know is really beneficial for me. Pointe class is pretty basic, but I like it because it sets aside time for me to focus on really working through my point shoes and articulating my feet more.
In the afternoon after lunch, I went to Pilates. I loved our Pilates class yesterday because I love working my abs! The Pilates class here at Ballet Austin is very intense but it is SO good for my body that I don’t mind.
Until now, almost all of my training has been based in classical Ballet, so going into the repertoire class I didn’t really know what to expect. By the second time I had the class, though, I had fallen in love with it. Yesterday we worked with choreography from Ballet Austin’s 2010 production of Carmina Burana.