There are two sections to most DAS classes:
Training: Typically occurs from September to December. Students are taught exercises, steps, vocabulary, and overall technique. Sometimes short combinations are developed and practiced. Material is taught in a progressive fashion, but the commitment required is moderate. Student progress is experienced on an individual level with focus placed on training in a safe and consistent way.
Choreography: Typically occurs from January to May/June. Each class group is taught choreography for a final performance. The performance is completely optional – students are welcome to participate in group choreography without purchasing a costume or appearing on stage. Progress is experienced on a group level, requiring higher attendance commitment from each student. Skills are developed in spacing, timing, and synchronicity, which requires all members of the team.
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Extra Training Opportunities
Adult Ballet – Caelia Gardiner
Ballet is the foundation of the DAS program. We have multiple levels of adult ballet from Beginner to Advanced. These classes each have a unique syllabus created by Caelia to suit the needs of the dancers, which loosely follows the curriculum of the Royal Academy of Dance. During the Training portion of the season (Sep to Dec), students will learn barre, port de bras, turns, adage, and allegro exercises. The Choreography phase (Jan to Jun) places less focus on technical exercises, but draws on the training from the first part of the year. Ballet develops strength, balance, flexibility, stamina, stage presence, memory, and cognitive skills, and promotes emotional and artistic expression. It also creates a solid foundation for any other discipline, which makes it a fantastic starting point for your journey into the world of dance.
Beginner — 0-2 years experience; working on posture & placement, students learn simple isolated steps to build vocabulary (approx. RAD Intermediate Foundation level)
Intermediate — 3-5 years experience; awareness and control of basic posture is required, students must have basic knowledge of ballet vocabulary and be able to combine steps into complex combinations (approx. RAD Intermediate/Advanced Foundation level)
Advanced — 6+ years experience; confident control of posture and alignment in difficult positions (arabesque, body bends, epaulement, etc.), students must have good working knowledge of a wide array of ballet steps and be able to execute complex combinations quickly, reverse enchainements independently, change direction easily, etc. (approx. RAD Advanced 1/2 level)
Adult Pointe – Caelia Gardiner
Pointe is the only subsection of ballet that is not included in the Adult Ballet classes. It requires its own course of strength and balance training and can be quite strenuous on the foot and ankle. Adults are welcome to train in pointe class regardless of their experience, but must be patient about progress – pointe shoes will only be purchased and practiced in once the teacher deems it safe. Besides the prospect of dancing on pointe, this class is a great opportunity to strengthen the knees and ankles, activate the core, and improve body alignment. This makes it a great complement to the ballet class, or a fantastic wellness class on its own.
Pre-Pointe/Beginner — 0-1 years experience; working on posture, alignment, strengthening, and weight placement, students learn simple repetitive exercises to train muscle memory
Intermediate — 2-4 years experience; ability to comfortably rise, relevé, and couru en pointe is required, students learn more difficult turning steps, posés, and relevés to one foot
Advanced — 5+ years experience; comfortable with balancing and moving off and on pointe, able to execute turning steps such as chainés and posé pirouettes, students learn multiple turns and balances in difficult positions
Adult Tap – Christine Aaron-McEown
Tap is a vigorous and upbeat dance style based on rhythm and sound. The music is fun and the footwork is challenging. During the Exercises and Technique portion, vocabulary and steps are taught, and combinations are developed over the course of a few weeks. Ankle dexterity and weight placement are important parts of tap dancing and often feel quite different from other dance styles. Christine’s approach focuses on developing good habits and proper technique, so no one is left behind.
Beginner — 0-2 years experience; working on posture & placement, students learn simple isolated steps to build vocabulary
Experienced — 3+ years experience; knowledge of the basic posture and steps is required, students learn more complicated rhythms and footwork with greater focus on arm and body placement & speed
Adult Jazz – Christine Aaron-McEown
Jazz is the more powerful, fast-moving cousin of ballet. The technique developed through ballet training – balance, posture, control, alignment – is fundamental in jazz, but used differently. Jazz dancing incorporates many positions where the legs are parallel, rather than always turned out as in ballet, and the movements have more power and speed to them. Jumps and turns are prominent in jazz training, and dances are usually performed to music with a beat and a style. Not all jazz is the same, and Christine works to provide a wider experience of jazz choreo with strong foundations in technique. Jazz is a good complement to ballet as it helps to improve strength and flexibility, and another facet of performance.
Fundamentals — all levels welcome; focusing on the transition steps and preparations in Jazz required to execute more difficult elements, beginner students will receive an introduction to the basic Jazz vocabulary while experienced students are encouraged to focus on technique (posture, stretched feet, core activation, etc)
* Students need at least 1 year of ballet training to begin jazz training.
* Enrollment in Jazz classes is up to discretion of the teacher based on posture and alignment experience from ballet training.
Adult Lyrical – Christine Aaron-McEown
Lyrical tells a story. It has movement elements from jazz, ballet, modern, and contemporary. It is free expression with the body in an attempt to connect with the audience. The technical foundation again comes from ballet, but training in jazz as well is an asset. Ballet, jazz, and lyrical serve as a sort of “technical triad” – dancers who take all three receive an integrated but well-rounded dance training experience. Christine has beautiful lyrical choreography and plans the classes to train students in non-syllabus movement, while still using structured technique. Lyrical can be slow, fast, angry, sad, or loving, but it is always about the emotional and artistic expression of music through dance.
Fundamentals — all levels welcome; focusing on the transition steps and movement quality in Lyrical, beginner students will receive an introduction to the basic Lyrical elements while experienced students are encouraged to focus on technique (posture, movement dynamics, core activation, etc)
* Students need at least 1 year of ballet training to begin lyrical training.
* Enrollment in Lyrical classes is up to discretion of the teacher based on posture and alignment experience from ballet training.
Adult Contemporary – Kersten Samoleski
Contemporary is a blend of Jazz, Lyrical, and classical Modern dancing. It is most commonly what we see on dance reality shows like So You Think You Dance. It has the power and excitement of Jazz with the emotional expression of Lyrical and the experimental nature of Modern. Our summer Contemporary classes are more focused on exploring movement and its musical connection than learning specific technical steps. Kersten will help students learn how to improvise and “feel” the story with their bodies, which is a foundational concept in all dance styles. Prepare to step out of your comfort zone and into the dance artist’s world in our trial Contemporary classes!
All levels — beginner students will receive an introduction to contemporary movement, while experienced students are encouraged to “play” with movement style, musicality, performance, etc. and incorporate core activation throughout
Adult Hip Hop – Christine Aaron-McEown
Hip hop is just plain fun! Hard-hitting and body-popping, hip hop dance comes from hip hop culture, but can be stylised in many different ways. We try not to take ourselves too seriously in our Adult Hip Hop class – it’s more about having fun and learning to move the body in different ways. While other dance training doesn’t explicitly help with hip hop movement, the more you understand how to isolate your movements, the easier it will be. Hip hop teaches us to let loose, get weird, and make noise. Christine’s hip hop is unique and exciting, and will be tailored to the group. Come have a blast sweating it out with us!
All levels — beginner students will receive an introduction to the Hip Hop style and steps, while experienced students are encouraged to develop their personal style, improve and experiment with the Hip Hop posture, and get a good sweat on!
Pilates & Conditioning – Maddi Rajchyba
Cross-training is extremely important for every dancer, and Pilates is one of the best cross-training activities out there! All of our conditioning at DAS is based in the Pilates principles of functional movement. The Pilates practice focuses on natural movement patterns of the body: releasing tension, activating the deep core, and moving the way the body wants to move. Maddi’s classes aim to improve strength and flexibility in an active and sustainable way, and will help apply the Pilates principles directly to dance moves done in other styles. Some classes are intended for all movers, while some are more focused on currently training dancers.
Foundations — all levels welcome; learn the basics of intrinsic core activation as well as preparations and full executions of basic Pilates mat exercises
Progressions — some experience with Pilates and dance recommended; must know how to breathe dynamically to set up core activation and maintain core control through a variety of movements
— This class will experiment with other movement styles (Graham technique, contemporary floor work) as well as other conditioning regimes (Yamana ball rolling, active flexibility training, Progressive Ballet Technique)