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.
Note: This is our summer intern’s last editorial post. After hearing she was a yoga buff, we signed her up for our weekly Yoga Form and Flow course offered on Monday nights. See what she had to say about taking yoga in a ballet studio…
One of my favorite perks (among many) of interning at Ballet Austin this summer was the opportunity to enroll in their Yoga Flow and Form course. I’ve always been a huge fan of yoga but only a dedicated practitioner for just over a year. This course was perfect for me — it began at a slower pace, offering plenty of pose modifications. The instructor was wonderfully patient and made sure to pay special attention to each student in the class. Everyone practices yoga at a different level, and she was considerate of our abilities and catered the course to each of our needs. Set to candlelight and low music, it was an incredibly relaxing and soothing hour.
And that was only the first week. This six-week yoga course functions as an introductory course to yoga, steadily advancing the poses and practice each week as the attendees grow increasingly strong and confident. It was a thrill to feel my body grow stronger with each week, and by the sixth week be able to complete the class without any pose modifications.
I really enjoyed the structure of the class and how it steadily advanced my practice each week. Most yoga studios I’ve been to treat each individual class as an all-inclusive lesson, not really considering the different skill levels of the practitioners or looking to advance their practice in a lasting way. Ballet Austin’s Yoga Flow and Form transformed my yoga practice indefinitely because it took the time to allow my body to grow steadily over the six-week period. As a serious yoga practitioner, I highly recommend this course to anyone looking to get into yoga. It was wonderfully fun, relaxing, and made me feel fantastic after each class.
My summer internship at Ballet Austin has ended now, and I’ve moved from Austin to Los Angeles, and so far finding a great yoga studio has been tough! I’ll miss Ballet Austin dearly, and I hope you Austinites take advantage of Flow and Form while you still can!
Sign up for our Yoga Form & Flow course by August 26 and receive $5 off your purchase. More details on the Ballet Austin website.
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!
Is it just me, or is the whole world vacationing in Hawaii this summer? Maybe it’s because the islands have been in the news as the Obama family’s favorite destination or the travel deals are too good to resist, but everyone seems to be getting the aloha fever. So what about the rest of us who long for the island breezes but don’t have a trip to the Big Island scheduled? Don’t fret: Ballet Austin has you covered.
Did you know that we offer Hula drop-in classes and Hula courses led by experienced dancers? Oahu native and Community Education Director Pei-San Brown holds the rank of Kumu Hula (Hula Master) and was honored to compete in the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, the world’s most prestigious hula competition. Honolulu native and Ballet Austin Hula Instructor Vivian Kaw also competed in the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival and has studied the art form for a greater part of her life.
Pei-San and Vivian are leading several upcoming opportunities for hula enthusiasts at Ballet Austin:
Come Dance! 2011 (Sunday, August 28) – This FREE day of dance at Ballet Austin is the perfect opportunity to try hula on for size, with two hula classes scheduled during the day. For more information, visit our Come Dance! 2011 page.
Beginning Hula – This popular Monday evening course is currently filled to capacity so if you’d like to take the plunge, sign up now for the fall course beginning in September. Call the Butler Community School at 512.476.9051.
Continuing Hula – There are currently spots available in this course taught by Vivian on Wednesday evenings at 7 pm. Participants should have previous hula experience under their belts for this next level. Visit the Butler Community School page for more details.
Intermediate Hula (Teen/Adults) – This Tuesday evening class at 7 pm is also for those who have hula experience. It’s a drop-in class, so visit the class registration page.
Let’s make it a date: stop by, say aloha, and join me for some hula, Austin!
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:
Hello all Ballet Austin blog followers! My name is Caitlin Conran, and I’m Ballet Austin’s Marketing intern for the summer of 2011. All summer long I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work in Ballet Austin’s marketing department working on this blog and our other social media sites, and taking any and all varieties of dance classes that Butler Community School has to offer. Last week I decided that it was about time I get out of the office and into the studio, so I set out to sample two BCS classes and report back on the blog!
Now, to start, let me be honest: I’ve never really been a dancer. I took some ballet classes before the age of 6, and I attended a few BCS classes prior to my internship, but I’ve never danced consistently, so I wouldn’t consider myself an “experienced” dancer. I’m more of a yoga girl myself, so while I’ve been able to master the gracefulness of certain poses, I’ve never really been able to combine grace with aerobic activity, such as prancing across a stage or plieing without tripping over myself.
Inexperience aside, I decided to begin my BCS class-sampling with a Ballet Fit (Teen/Adult) evening course, taught by Elise Pekarek.
The class promised the gracefulness of ballet fused with a sweat-tastic series of aerobic exercises, and my goodness was it sweaty. In lieu of the recent burn ban in Austin, Elise deemed the theme of our class “Rain Dance,” and rain it did – I can’t remember the last time I sweat so much. But it was a fabulous, much-appreciated sweat. The class taught me all about plies, tondues, releves, and also managed to get me down on the floor doing close to fifty push-ups (how did you get me to do that, Elise?!). I worked every muscle in my legs, arms, and abdominals… which is essentially every muscle in my body (ouch!). Set to groovy, upbeat tunes, and an all-around great energy, this class was a perfect opportunity for me – the inexperienced dancer – to learn a few moves and also get an awesome aerobic workout! It was set at a perfect pace so that I was able to follow along and still keep my heart rate up. I’d recommend this class to anyone who loves fast-paced exercise, such as running, and is looking to mix up their routine!
For my next class I decided, under the persuasion of my sore muscles, to slow down the pace and check out an Elementary Ballet (Teen/Adult) class.
I dusted off my old ballet slippers and hit the dance floor in a tank top and yoga shorts. I was relieved to find that a leotard and tutu were not a necessity – however, basic knowledge of ballet vocabulary was. The Ballet Fit class had introduced me to the staple poses of ballet, so luckily I was able to recognize a lot of the movements and keep up with the rest of the class. Elementary Ballet at the BCS is one level above the Beginning Ballet course, offered to individuals with little to no experience dancing ballet. Both ballet courses offer a wonderful combination of on the bar and off the bar dance routines, all of which are set to the tune of live piano accompaniment! I absolutely loved the change of pace in the ballet class. I was able to get a good workout without working up too much of a sweat. Elementary Ballet really stretched, strengthened and toned my muscles with graceful, low-intensity movements that left me feeling empowered and inspired to try more!
And so concludes my BCS class-sampling, but not my love for BCS dance classes! As my internship here at Ballet Austin continues, so will my attendance of the wide range of classes the Butler Community School has to offer, along with, of course, my growing love of dance. So come on out to the BCS this summer and challenge your regular workout routine with me at any and all of these wonderful dance classes!
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.”