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.”
At some point in their lives most little girls desire to put on a pink tutu and twirl around the living room. Some actually take lessons for awhile, but most go about their lives, having wistful thoughts whenever the ballet performs, wishing that they too had taken lessons.
And then January 2011 rolled around and the calls to the Butler Community School office began. “I’ve always wanted to learn ballet, but I’m afraid I am way past my prime!” “I know it’s ridiculous, but I have had a dream all my life of learning ballet.” “This may be a silly question, but do you have ballet classes for adults?” “At my age I should probably know better than to entertain such a fanciful dream as learning ballet, but is it possible?” “I took ballet as a child over 30 years ago. Do you have classes for someone like me?” These questions and more are just a few of the hundreds of calls that came in during the last month.
Most people think that ballet classes are for the young rather than the young at heart. Men and women both think that if they didn’t start young there is no place for them in a ballet class. That’s where they’re wrong. Ballet is for ALL ages. With ballet, it’s never too late. My job was to convince them of that, and to encourage them to try a class. And they did.
When I saw attendance in the BCS Adult Beginning Ballet class double during January, I became intrigued. What is the attraction? Why do they come? Why do they stay? I watched through the window as adults of all ages listened intently to BCS ballet teacher Libby James give simple, patient instructions and corrections.
Besides fulfilling childhood dreams, one of the reasons these classes have become so popular is because they are for adults, and are offered in the evenings on a pay-as-you-go drop-in basis. Secondly, the dreaded leotard is not required. Students can simply relax, have a good time, and workout at a speed that’s comfortable for them. And workout they do. Ballet promotes longer, leaner, beautifully toned muscles, and encourages a certain gracefulness, improving balance and posture. Ballet at the BCS promotes smiles and fun.
The secret is out. Ballet is for everyone, including you!
Got your attention, didn’t I? In case you are scrolling down to find the answer…wait! Read carefully to discover what is considered to be the best exercise in the world! Everyone is telling you to get moving, get active, get fit! The City of Austin has its Fit City campaign and is becoming an official Let’s Move City in 2011. There are local and national Active Life initiatives. Even here at Ballet Austin, one of our core values is, “We dance…to encourage lifelong health and well-being.” The Butler Community School (BCS) desires people to adopt healthy lifestyles through dance and regular physical activity. But what does all of this mean for you and me?
I know the human body was designed for activity, and by exercising regularly I’ll look and feel better. I also know it is something I have to do for the rest of my life…be active to stay active. My training and experience in the field of aging remind me that what I don’t use, I lose. Muscular endurance, cardio-respiratory strength, flexibility, balance, and overall health, all increase if I move now. I stay strong because I stay active. I know all that! But if the average lifespan of a female is 80 years, that’s a long time to stick with something just to stick with something. It takes a convincing exercise program for me to keep doing it for 80 years! What will it take for you? What is the best exercise in the world for you? The answer…beactive your way! It’s your choice. Whatever it looks like for you!
The philosophy is that IF you find an activity that keeps you moving, that you enjoy, you will maintain a higher level of involvement for a longer period of time. So what is the best exercise in the world for you? Whatever you enjoy and will keep doing! Walking the dog, playing golf, raking leaves, running the trail, riding a bike, Pilates, even dancing! It’s anything that will get you moving and keep you moving! Choose an activity that’s easy to fit into your life. If it’s easy you’ll do it. If it’s fun, social, refreshing…you will do it! Wherever you are…it is never too late to start. There is not an age you reach when you are done! What’s the best exercise for you? Your way…guaranteed!
I have listened to Sara and Cassiday on the Mix 94.7 JB & Sandy Morning Show. I love their energy and sense of fun. I got to see that energy, mixed in with a LOT of fun! Sara and Cassiday came to take the Broadway Fit 101 class Tuesday night at the BCS.
According to Cassiday’s blog, “It was not only fun, but a GREAT workout as well. I will be going back to take more classes from them soon!” Sara was a bit nervous but agreed that it was a lot of fun! Check out the video of Sara and Cassiday dancing Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” during Broadway Fit 101 at the BCS! Wonder if they’ll be back next week to learn Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance?
Three weeks into 2011. Have you already dropped your new year’s resolution? When people fall behind on keeping up with resolutions, they quit. Done for the year! It may come back up again next January, but for now, it’s over.
Let’s face it…resolutions are hard because we pick something hard to work on. Then we hope we make it, or try to will it to happen. But it’s not that easy, so when it doesn’t happen, we join the ranks of “quitter”. No one wants to be a quitter. So don’t be! Be a resolution-keeper! Resolution-keepers don’t will something to happen; they make specific plans that are possible to keep in order to change something daily; the action of choosing. It’s time to sweat; to work at it. Get up every day and ask, “What can I do today?” Once you choose the action, to quote Nike, “just do it!”
Record numbers of people are taking Butler Community School dance and fitness classes since January 1. In the past few weeks I have spoken with hundreds of people who called or came by to ask about taking a class. And they’re coming! But will they still be coming in April, in July? I wondered if these increased numbers had something to do with resolutions, so I asked, “What is your New Year’s resolution,” and “why are you here?” The answers went something like this, “I want more energy…to have fun…lose weight…get fit…re-learn an old passion…try something new.”
Those are great, but how will these resolutions happen, and specifically, happen at the BCS? What’s the plan? Following the idea that a resolution will work if there is a daily action to get results, what if the resolution becomes something like this, “I will wake up at 6:00am, put my shoes on, and go to Ballet Austin for the Ultimate Cardio Boot Camp.” Or maybe this, “I am going to buy a Class-Card and drive to Ballet Austin after work on Thursday to take Ballet Fit,” or, “I will call a friend and invite her to take a hip hop class with me on Sunday.” Actions chosen every day that accomplish the goal of having fun, losing weight, learning something new, and so on.
Already slacking? Don’t wait until 2012 to begin working on your resolution again. Reset your 2011 resolution! Instead of relying on willpower, learn the art of choosing today.
It starts after Thanksgiving. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, scrubbing pots from oversized meals, decorating for the holidays, entertaining family guests, and guessing the BCS rankings. It might be easy to lose any thought of ‘joy to the world’. The true holiday spirit can be all around us, yet somehow elusive as we see only what has to be bought, what has to be done. What we have and what we don’t have.
The holiday season began for me in September. I watched with fascination as over 50 performers from the Butler Community School’s Musical Theatre Workshop, written and directed by Danny Herman and Rocker Verastique, built an original holiday musical, Magic in Manhattan. It put the holiday season in perspective for me. I can’t wait to see it on stage December 11-13!
Magic in Manhattan takes place in New York City on Christmas Eve. While a dad spends Christmas in Afghanistan, a mom finds a way to bring a little joy to her three girls. The story follows them through the streets of Manhattan, where they witness the contrast between the buying and selling of luxuries at Macy’s and Saks, and the stark reality of poverty in this land of plenty. Yet, New York City becomes a place filled with the magic and the spirit of the holiday season. They only have to look for it.
Don’t get caught up in the business of this holiday season without taking the time to let the sounds of the season make your holiday a little more magical!
Today…every muscle in my body hurts. I’m active, I run, but my first Pilates class was a workout like I have never experienced before.
Let’s start at the beginning… I work at Ballet Austin, manage the Butler Community School’s programming. I see what Pilates does to people every day. And I see that they keep coming back. In fact, I see some people, like Ann Daly, in the Pilates Studio three times a week. But I had never tried it…
Well, the challenge was on. I decided to take on those machines myself. What is it about Pilates that everyone raves about? And so… my first Pilates class.
I was a bit intimidated by the machines, but had full confidence in Vlada, Pilates Program Director at Ballet Austin. First thing…the reformer (Pilates machine that provides targeted resistance). I could give you a play by play, but there is no way to describe the full experience…doing “hundreds” for the first time; lying on my back, my hands in straps pressed down at my sides, my head and shoulders lifted, my legs extended with my toes reaching. And the exercise hadn’t even started yet! And when it did, I not only felt muscles I never knew I had, I learned how to breathe, focus, concentrate, stay steady, and listen to my body. My body was definitely talking to me!
Vlada kept it simple, straightforward, and easy to grasp. She lead me through a balanced and challenging workout. There was one point when she said, “now you can come over and sit on the chair.” In my head I thought the workout was over. I would be able to put my feet up, drink some water… you know, the usual at the end of an exercise session. Oh, I sat down all right. But “chair” in Pilates language doesn’t mean the same thing! Then there was the barrel, the tower, balls, magic circles, and more.
By the time the hour was over, I was pretty tired, but I had made it through the workout without humiliating myself! And no joke, I honestly felt like the space between my pelvis and rib cage had lengthened. Today it is obvious that my body has received a big wake-up call; muscles I didn’t know I have are sore.
I love eavesdropping as I walk through the halls of Ballet Austin’s Butler Dance Education Center. Well, not sure if it is really eavesdropping, as eavesdropping, according to Wikipedia, is “the act of secretly listening to the private conversation of others without their consent.”
I wouldn’t say these conversations were private. In fact, some were pretty loud and spirited. Some people even knew I was listening because they gave their unofficial consent with an occasional glance in my direction and a smile or a wave. I smiled back somewhat nonchalantly, choosing to remain the detached observer. It reminds me of when I drove carpool when my children were younger, sitting in the front seat with the music turned low so I could hear the backseat conversation. My driver’s seat offered one of the best views of my children’s lives. My eyes on the road, my voice silent, and my ears open…I learned a lot.
Last night in the “driver’s seat” I walked through the halls of BDEC as studios emptied after Butler Community School classes were finished. As sweat poured down faces, I overheard comments about how enjoyable it is to dance, what a blast they had, how great the teacher was. Then another comment caught my attention. “That was such an amazing and intense workout, and so much fun!” Wait! Could something so fun really count as a workout? I know better than to ask that question…of course it could!
Infectious music, encouraging teachers, learning new choreography, and the social aspect of a dance class take the rough edges off an hour of heart pumping, muscle burning, sweat inducing exercise. I kept walking, watching, and listening as scores of adults of all ages walked out of Zumba®, Broadway Fit, Ballet, Tap, Hip Hop, Jazz, and Modern with smiles on their faces. I love eavesdropping!
Get a glimpse of Ballet Austin behind the scenes and read more about our upcoming performances, as well as get an inside look into the lives of company dancers and Artistic Director and Choreographer Stephen Mills.