one of the beauties of a blog is a chance to write on any topic, any event, any person, particularly those items not covered in mainstream publications. Today I was the Washington School of Ballet to see a performance by students after their Summer Intensive. It was inspiring and full of delight, with 3 highlights being the opening choreography by Kristina Windom, the last piece on the program for the highest level of students by Carlos Valcarcel, and the students’ own choreography. The first piece, which Kristina choreographed for younger dancers to Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, was airy and magical: in long tutus and leotards the performers swirled through the steps. A young soloist was dedicated and winsome with her long arabesque lines.
Valcarcel’s choreography for the older students was a stunning closer. Set to Beethoven, his choreography masterfully enlivened the music, spotlighting its canons and peaks. The students rose to the challenge of the creation's speed and intricacy. It would be fantastic to see what Valcarcel could make for the company, The Washington Ballet, and other professional troupes.
Last but not least, the students themselves offered their own choreography, beautifully designed with interesting formations and patterns. And it was a great idea to have different groups of dancers use the same music so that when we, the audience, saw the variety of ways we hear music and create movement to its textures.
Also on view were showings of classes the students took during the intensive: Flamenco by Edwin Aparicio , a phenomenal artist, plus jazz, modern and character dance. There was even a piece created in the style of Bollywood to Jai Ho. This eclectic training will probably serve the students well as they choose between pursuing a career with a ballet company or going into a modern dance company, musical theater, or television and film.
Beyond the dance world, the students I watched today have a specific advantage: they carry themselves with poise and elegance. If nonverbal messages (posture, facial expression) can impact more than 90% of our communication, these students are at a definite advantage.
Ultimately I see this training benefiting the students whether they decide to dance full-time or become doctors, lawyers and CEOs. They also have learned what it takes to dedicate oneself to a pursuit and to overcome physical, mental, and emotional hardship. They have seen the investment of other dancers, not only in the United States, but also from Japan, Bolivia and the Dominican Republic. The Summer Intensive attracts dancers from this country and around the globe. And these students realize the value of dance: it is not about competition, but achieving a sense of grace and harmony. The performers today embodied the subtleties and nuances that are missing in dance made popular on screens. Perhaps some of them will embark on paths that support and promote the arts and sustain live performance.
It was a extraordinary afternoon: I left the Washington School of Ballet energized and optimistic about the generations that will be in charge in years to come.