It’s always a bit sad when we sense that summer is coming to an end. Perhaps you had an incredible experience at a multi-week dance intensive, or ventured to various workshops to learn new things, or maybe you had some down time with your friends and family. No matter how you spent your summer, it’s almost time for back to school, and back to dance. This time of year can feel bittersweet – you’re excited to start a new year of dance, but you’re also grieving over the soon-to-be-gone dog days of summer.
Well, these Broadway Dance Center teachers are here to help you start your new school year feeling fresh and inspired!
Alex Gonzaga is a professional dancer with Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre and also a personal trainer to dancers and athletes with Proteus Fitness. “I still remember years ago when I took the Atlanta Ballet summer program,” he shares. “I was 18 years old and straight out of high school. The workload during that summer was a lot more intense than I had ever experienced. With my limited knowledge at the time, I did not think hydration would be a problem, but it was. Right around the second week of the program, I had an unusually hard day, and down I went. Due to dehydration, my body just completely shut down. I didn’t pass out, but I got extremely lightheaded and had to stop dancing for the day. An older company dancer at that time introduced me to this simple hydration drink where you mix sugar, salt and water together. That was my first experience with dehydration.”
What does theater dance mean today? On Broadway, we’ve recently seen everything from hip-hop in Hamilton to pointe work in Anastasia. As a result, theater dance class can truly run the gamut when it comes to genre and even music. “A jazz, tap, or modern class will focus on specific codified technical training,” explains Jim Cooney, who teaches theater dance and serves as the educational department’s resident faculty advisor here at Broadway Dance Center. “In theater class, we work on storytelling, style, and musicality. You focus on communicating the story–what you’re thinking and feeling—through dance. It’s like an acting class, but instead of text we’re using movement.”
When Joseph Pilates immigrated to the United States and founded his signature strength training technique in the 1920s, he emphasized a holistic, interconnected approach to physical well-being. Pilates focuses on core strength, proper alignment, and full range of motion. The exercise form has experienced several renaissances in the last century, but has remained a tried-and-true method in more recent decades as people have come to recognize and respect the science-backed technique that personifies the song, “Dem Bones” (“The hip bone’s connected to the leg bone!”). All of our body parts are connected and any imbalance in one area can impact everything else (#everythinghurts).
The recitals, exams, competitions and conventions are done. If you don’t have a summer program running, the studio might feel pretty quiet. Too quiet. Saying goodbye to your senior students can leave you with empty nest syndrome, but know that you’re not alone!
Seán Curran (department chair of New York University’s Tisch dance program) and Aram Manukyan (teacher at the School of Alberta Ballet and previous artistic director of Alberta Ballet II), talk about the seniors they’ve seen off, and how they deal with goodbyes year after year.
“Gah, gah, reach–ball change. Now, one-two-three hundred turns!” If you haven’t already guessed, today we’re featuring the woman, the myth, the legend: the one-and-only Sheila Barker. Whether she’s teaching her weekly drop-in jazz classes, mentoring training program students, hosting classes for BDC’s annual Dance Teacher Workshop, leading her sought-after Summer Workshop, or just greeting everyone (by name!) as she roams the halls of BDC, Sheila seems to inspire every dancer she meets.
Summer sunshine! A time for pools, hikes, ice cream, hangouts and sunscreen. Maybe you take time off, find an inspiring intensive or fill your weeks with workshops. Yet the one thing we pretty much all have, at least in the northern hemisphere, and especially in NYC, is heat! And I bet that if there is one thing you love about heat is that it helps with your warm-up and feeling stretchy!
You probably already intuitively knew that being warm is really important for getting more stretch out of our muscles, so you can totally take advantage of the warmer weather and get a jump start on sweating it out and getting your heart rate up to prepare for dance! But what are some other things to keep in mind to get the most out of your stretch? Here are a few things to think about for your best summer stretching!
Broadway Dance Center has always been Al Blackstone’s home away from home. His teachers, mentors, and experience as a student helped shape him into the educator he is today. Since his first class in 2011 with just a few students, Al now packs the room no matter when he’s teaching. Beyond that, his courage to share his talent, vulnerability, charm, and lovable goofiness has created an undeniable ripple effect throughout the industry, challenging our preconceived notions about what ‘musical theater’ means, and how we can cultivate the energy of a dance class. Being a teacher or performer doesn’t mean masking who you are to portray someone or something else–quite the opposite, actually. It requires tapping even deeper into who you are in order to create a more meaningful connection with others, whether it’s your audience, dance partner, students, or fellow peers in class.
It’s Pride month and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. New York City–especially Broadway Dance Center–is celebrating love loud and proud by walking in the Pride March again and hosting special Pride March fundraiser classes. Amidst all this joy, pride, and celebration, it’s important to remember how far we’ve come (and also how far we still have to go) in the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights and respect.
The arts reflect life, and the dance world has often ignited social change (Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey are but two choreographic changemakers that come to mind). It’s not quite a surprise, then, to know that the dance community had a huge influence on making “gay” visible, accepted, and mainstream.