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New York: Around Town.

BALLET FITNESS DOWNTOWN

A survey conducted by the Andrew Mellon Foundation in 1994 on classical ballet training pinpointed a fact that was becoming apparent in studios and schools across the nation--adult students represented almost 50 percent of a school's enrollment. Authors Dena Simone Moss and Allison Kyle Leopold know about that only too well. Their book, The Joffrey Ballet School's Ballet Fit (St. Martin's Griffin), is a beautifully and copiously illustrated, step-by-step volume that gives answers to the common fears that hold back many adults from taking ballet classes. Moss, who teaches at the Joffrey Ballet School in Manhattan, explains ballet's link with health, provides a list of ballet terms, and gives a comprehensive resource directory. Her understanding, experience, and humor make this book a treasure to be recommended to all your adult students. (Available in bookstores.)

NATIONAL DANCE WEEK ON MANHATTAN TV

Richard Philp, Dance Magazine's editor-in-chief, was the host on a weeklong program for National Dance Week (April 24 to May 2) on City Arts, a local PBS program.

As host, Philp introduced companies and artists: Richard Move, who performs as Martha Graham en travestie; Working Dancers (Broadway dancers warming up and rehearsing); Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Zizi--Je t'aime, featuring Zizi Jeanmaire and Roland Petit; and swing dance by Championship Ballroom Dancers.

DANCE SPACE CELEBRATES 15 YEARS IN NOHO

The one school in Manhattan where dancers from novice to professional can move from studio to stage is at Dance Space Inc., located in Manhattan's NoHo district on lower Broadway. The city's largest school, with more than 2,000 students, celebrated its fifteenth anniversary in May with plans for a yearlong series of events and activities, including a month of faculty concerts, special guest-artist programs, and workshops.

Students at DS may take any of the 105 classes offered each week for body work, yoga, personal training, ballet, modern dance, jazz, Afro-Haitian, and tango; they may also attend or participate in performances in the school's theater. There's even a resident massage therapist available.

The school is directed by Laurie DeVito, Lynn Simonson, and Charles Wright, three of its original four founders, and it remains a center where students can study, perform, choreograph. The faculty now numbers thirty-five, and the school has a rotating roster of more than one hundred guest choreographers for the Modern Guest Artist series.

For more information on the celebration or the school, contact: Betsy Hallerman, Dance Space Inc., 622 Broadway, New York, NY 10012; (212) 979-5815 or (212) 777-8067; fax (212) 533-5514.

MANHATTAN FAME SCHOOL STUDENT IN PROFILE

William Brisco, 18, dance graduate.

School: Fiorello H. La Guardia High School for the Performing Arts in Manhattan. Freshman in 1995.

First Teacher: Dorothy Jackson, who studied at Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, now director of Repertory Dance Company of East Harlem.

Early Influence: Taken to a dance class by cousin Joy Richardson at the age of ten; was unsatisfied with the program at Manhattan Center for Sciences and Math; auditioned for the arts and education program at the school.

Assets: Strong technique, articulate movements, expressiveness, determination to succeed, love of performing.

Weakness Overcome: Poor academic showing: "Until I got smart and realized that I had to improve if I wanted to reach my goal."

Support: From mother, grandmother, sister, and brother. "They wanted me to do what I liked and to be good at it."

Special Favorite: Merce Cunningham Dance Company, because of having been in their 1997 summer scholarship program.

Immediate Future: Accepted offer to American Ballet Theatre summer program.

Advice to Students: "Straighten up! Find something you like to do and stick with it, no matter what the risks."

RELATED ARTICLE: MANHATTAN DANCE PROJECT

"Regardless of where we are in the United States, when a student walks into the hotel at 7:45 on a Saturday morning, he or she will see a New York studio with a sprung floor, professional-quality barres, seats, and water stations around the outside," says Bill Hotaling, a jazz dancer and the driving force behind Manhattan Dance Project and its sister not-for-profit, New York on the Road. "We treat everyone like professional dancers. It's the structure of the class, it's the pace, it's the way that we teach, the choreography."

Manhattan Dance Project is a convention organization dedicated to taking the best of New York City classes across the country. Its faculty, all of whom teach in New York City, includes Vincent Bingham, Abron Glover, Savion Glover, Bill Hastings, Frank Hatchett, David Howard, Finis Jhung, Michael Vernon, and Chet Walker. Vernon, who gives ballet class to stars such as Paloma Herrera, Wendy Whelan, and Ashley Tuttle, says, "I point out that I'm giving the same exercises that I give to world-class dancers. The students find it quite inspiring."

The program is the brainchild of Hotaling and a kid he used to baby-sit--Glover. "Savion and I got the idea to combine master classes with the convention idea, but to limit the class size and focus more on education--really getting that one-on-one attention--so that students feel they've been touched by that class and really learned a lot."

Last summer was the debut of Manhattan Dance Project, but Hotaling and his masterclass teachers have been taking their expertise to public schools across the country since 1997 in the New York on the Road company. Hotaling says, "NYR is attached to Manhattan Dance Project and is community engagement work. We go into inner-city schools and teach kids about dance and dance history.

"Dance history is something we also do at MDP. We show Fosse, Baryshnikov, Patricia McBride, West Side Story--all sorts of things. A big part of education is learning from what has gone before and using that as a foundation for your own dance and your own life." Since many of the teachers have studied and performed with major figures in twentieth--century dance, the class in dance history comes to life. Walker, who appeared in four Fosse musicals, is the cocreator and re-creator of choreography for Fosse--currently on Broadway.

MDP also welcomes dance teachers. "We bring them together in a master-class setting. When they walk through the door, we always tell them, `You've left your city and are now in a New York City classroom.' So everyone gets along, there's a lot of sharing, it's a very friendly atmosphere.

"Our classes are divided by level, not by age. At each level we have a full curriculum--ballet, tap, jazz, theater dance, modern, dance history, voice, hip-hop, swing--a taste of everything. The teachers dance with the kids, or they can observe and take notes. It's concentrating on one thing at a time." In addition to classes, there are also sessions on auditioning, combining dance and college, and living in New York City. The weekend culminates with a banquet where kids and teachers mingle with the staff.

"It's everything people would find in New York, but offered in their hometown," Hotaling says. "The kids leave tired and sore. They'll write to us and say, `It's Tuesday, I still can't walk, and I'm so happy. Thank you so much for a great weekend.'"

For more information on Manhattan Dance Project, call (888) 646-9687 or fax (718) 267-6063. Susan Elia
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Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Horosko, Marian
Publication:Dance Magazine
Date:Jul 1, 1999
Words:1193
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