ASDP16 – The Review

So… year 3 of BBS’s ASDP is in the books. It was kind of a tough year, both for the program and for me personally. Lots going on in my life that kind of distracted me from the task at hand and I’m not sure if I got as much out of it as I did in years past and lots of changes going on at BBS that made it a bit chaotic.

However… there were some great aspects.

First off was the optional enrichment session. This year we chose our enrichment option for each week. We had a choice between modern or the new conditioning program, so we could do all one or the other or one week of each. I chose conditioning the first week and, though tempted by modern, felt that I wanted to continue on the conditioning path. So I’m not sure how the modern program went (though it seemed well-attended), but I liked the cross-training aspect. It was designed by a trainer who has worked extensively with the company dancers and the pre-pro students, but has a pretty diverse clientele and background. A lot of what we did focused on dynamic stretching, core strengthening, and balance. It wasn’t quite as crippling as I expected and I did learn some exercises I could carry with me. The trainer has his own studio in the area and I’d love to learn more about what he does and continue training. Actually, what I’d really like to do is learn from him how to train other dancers. There are so many myths and misinformation passed around in dance (especially ballet) circles about how to train/stretch/work that need to be corrected and I’d love to be part of that. Food for thought.

As for our technique classes… well, each year I’ve waffled about whether to take class at the intermediate or advanced level. The past two years I stuck with intermediate and signed up for it again this year. The first day one of the dancers I know from prior years saw me in the hall beforehand and we chatted a bit about levels. She had also signed up for intermediate but was considering advanced and we had a lot of similar thoughts on the topic. After our technique class that day she came up to me and said that she was ready for a change and thought that I should bump up, too. And to be honest I was feeling like it was time, myself. So after our allegro and pirouettes workshop (with the advanced level) that evening I asked the teacher whether it would be appropriate to switch. He not only agreed but said that the current enrollment in advanced was pretty puny, so it would help to even out the numbers a bit. A few of us ended up moving up, actually, though it was still a fairly small class… around 12 people most days.

I didn’t feel like the advanced level was particularly more challenging than intermediate, though I suppose there was more of an expectation that students had a familiarity with the material. I felt like I was pretty middle-of-the-road in terms of ability, which was good. Overall some good classes, though I felt that we were lacking in the amount of hands-on instruction that I’d been accustomed to in the past. This might be related to the particular teachers we had this year. Some do more of the walking around and poking, others prefer to give a combination and stay at the front of the room watching. I know which method I generally prefer, so I missed getting the in-depth instruction, but maybe that’s part of being in the advanced level… the assumption that you know what you need to work on? Not sure. No major revelations to report from technique class, but of course it’s always great to get daily classes in.

For the last part of the evening (other than that first day with the workshop I mentioned above) we generally had rep or variations, both of which were from Giselle, Act I. We only did the variation two days and we did not present this at the end as we had last year. I didn’t mind terribly, since it was a variation that involved a lot of use of the stage and those are always hard to perform en masse, but I did feel like we blasted through the choreography and I never really got it. I should’ve studied Natalia Osipova a bit more, I suppose:

Our rep was the friends piece. Since the intermediate and advanced levels were combined we did end up having to split into two casts to perform this piece. It was slightly less exhausting than the endless ballonés from last year’s Sleeping Beauty rep, with the biggest challenge coming from trying to stay in neat lines and formations. The performance at the end went off better than expected, even if the prep work did resemble an attempt at herding cats!

Our one “special” event was a Q&A with Corina Gill and Sarah Wroth which went over great. It was very informal, with Sarah kind of leading the event, but there were some great questions and I enjoyed hearing from both of them.

My overall impressions of the two weeks were… well, that I certainly hope they have plans to name a new Head of Adult Programming, because I was feeling the lack of anyone being in charge. There was no constant reassuring presence as in previous years and I think everyone’s experience would have been enhanced by someone taking charge. Even the faculty seemed frazzled and it left me wondering whether I’ll bother to spend the money next year or look to find something else. But I’m glad I went back and got to dance with so many amazing people. The students there really are a friendly and encouraging bunch. I don’t know that I would have stepped up to the next level if it weren’t for a classmate’s prodding and that support goes a long way to making or breaking an experience. With another person passionate about teaching adults I have the confidence that the program can return and surpass its past successes.

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