Bringing Ballet Greats to the Midwest

You don't have to be on the East or West Coast to take ballet class from legendary teachers; you just have to know where to look!

 

As part of its outreach and education program, the Indianapolis City Ballet has recently launched its 2012 master class series, bringing reknowned performers and directors from companies like American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet and more to teach at studios in the Indianapolis area. Gracing this year's September to June roster are allstars like Wendy Whelan, Daniel Ulbricht, Darci Kistler, John Meehan, Franco De Vita, Alexei Kremnev.... The list goes on. Classes are open to the public, but with limited space. Interested dancers and observers can purchase tickets and see the full list of this year's teachers here.

 

In addition to leading class, each of the teachers gives a 30-minute question and answer session with session with Jolinda Menendez, director of ICB's master classes program. Videos of the sessions are posted here and offer young students a rare and detailed look at each guest's dance background and career.

 

 

Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

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Teachers Trending

Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

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Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

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