Monday, June 21, 2010

Turning, Tapping, and Twisting Across America

Last week the usual quiet mornings at BalletMet Columbus were instead filled with laughs echoing through the halls and music pounding from the studios. BalletMet's week-long Summer Dance Camp had finally arrived! This year's theme was "Moving Across America," and children looked forward to a week full of learning about and experiencing the culture of different types of dance.

Some of the children had never taken any kind of dance before while others were camp veterans, yet everyone learned something new through the entertaining classes. Participants took classes in ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, and modern. In addition, the students got creative in acting classes and art sessions. The goal of the classes was to take what the kids learned throughout the week and then put together a performance showcase for their families and loved ones at the end of the week.

The participants were split into three groups, each lead by older students of BalletMet Dance Academy. While all of the groups experienced many types of dance, they could only share a few pieces with their families in the closing performance. The great thing about taking many different kinds of classes during the week was that the students were able to use the skills and concepts from each art form in every class they took!

For example, one of the groups performed a hip-hop dance, where they were allowed to create their own short solo. They were able to take the moves they learned in their modern and jazz classes to use in their piece as well. Another group performed a California-themed tap number to Surfin' USA and California Girls by the Beach Boys, and were able to use surfboards they decorated in art class as a prop for their dance. That dance also featured a guest artist: One of the older Academy counselors flexed his West-Coast muscles with one of the campers!

The oldest of the three groups performed a jazz-modern fusion piece and were also given a section of dance where they could improvise their own movement. Allowing the participants to create their own movement and learn how to express themselves through art was an important aspect of the camp, and the kids practiced more improvisation in the acting classes. They played a game called "location freeze," where the instructor would say the name of a famous American landmark and the students would have to act out that place using only their bodies, no talking allowed. They were allowed to be anything; a tree, a dog, a subway car. The other game they played was called "family portraits," and they would have to pose to portray a certain family, for example, "The Rockstar Family," or "The Spongebob Family." They had a lot of fun with this!

The students learned some classical ballet and were able to show the audience a traditional "square dance." Not the kind you do in a barn, but the type of simple dance that is typically performed in big party or ball scenes of classical ballets. They also learned some historical dances and a song to go along with them!

Another cool opportunity for the students was watching some of the professsional dancers perform a demonstration. Company dancer Jackson Sarver came in and showed the campers different movements and talked about the hard work and dedication that comes with dancing. The kids also had a chance to see real costumes the dancers have worn on stage during the season shows.

The kids loved performing for their friends and family and it was great to see familiar faces from years past back for this summer's camp. The parents loved it too. "It was a great performance! It was lots of fun and amazing what they learned in 1 week!," Allison Savage, one of the dancer's parents, said. We hope to see all of the dancers back next year, and some new participants too!

See more photos from Summer Dance Camp at the Academy Facebook Page
BalletMet also offers a variety of other dance camps throughout the summer. Some even combine dancing with cooking, acting, singing, and more!! Find out more about these at our dance camp page.

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