By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
Ballerinas (L-R) Sasha West, Amelia Snyder, Avery Ward, and Mary Ann Castellano.

Dancing through the summer at Gwinnett Ballet Theatre
By Holley Calmes

Lawrenceville, GA (April 7, 2014) Summer time means freedom for most kids. No school! But for those who love to dance, being free from their ballet studios all summer is not an option. Summer dance programs are enjoyable as well as essential for staying in dancing form, and Gwinnett Ballet Theatre has a whole calendar of summertime fun for ages 4 and up.

 


Camps for baby ballerinas, beginning ballet camps, and intensives for intermediate and advanced students are ongoing from the first of June almost until school starts. Exciting guest teachers and members of GBT’s excellent staff are lined up to keep the tempo upbeat!

Summer dance participation is especially important for young artists who are serious about stretching their abilities in classical ballet, modern, jazz and hip hop. GBT is known for producing many young people who continue dancing after graduation from high school, whether in professional companies or in colleges and universities. The importance of impeccable training year round, and from an appropriate age, is a large factor in making a dance career attainable or being granted scholarships at major universities’ dance departments.

GBT’s Artistic Director Wade Walthall says, “Summer programs help in the continuing education of a dancer in an even more concentrated atmosphere. In most cases this includes an exposure to other instructors as well as different dancers and different disciplines. Summer programs allow full days of training not usually offered during the regular year round program and helps dancers to keep the technique they have already achieved on a solid footing, while even adding to it.”

And summer dance is fun! Days spent together provide bonding experiences with friends doing what they love best.

Starting off a dance education also means starting off “on the right foot.” GBT has a special “Beginner Ballet” intensive for those just beginning serious ballet study. This program is for ages 7-9 and focuses on the basics of ballet, plus ballet etiquette and conditioning. These intensives are June 23-27 and July 21-25.

GBT offers Intermediate and Advanced intensives for students ages 10 and up during the weeks of June 9-13, June 16-20, July 7-11 and July 14-18. These young artists will benefit from some exciting guest teachers.

Robert Dekkers, a GBT alumni now leading his own contemporary dance company, “Post:Ballet” in San Francisco, will be teaching the week of June 9-13. Robert is a student favorite, bringing impeccable teaching skills and his own unique creativity to his students.

The guest teacher for June 16-20 is especially exciting. Bennyroyce Royon began studying dance with Mr. Walthall at the age of 15 in Seattle. Since then, he graduated from the Juilliard School and was one of the founding members of Rasta Thomas’ all-male dance company, “Bad Boys of Dance.” He has performed with numerous companies and choreographed extensively throughout the world, including Atlanta Ballet’s world premiere of his “Flux” in 2011.

Other teachers will include Miriam Golomb of Georgia Ballet, Jaspin Newell, and members of GBT’s staff.

Camps for little ones ages 4 to 6 will be held the weeks of June 2-6; July 7-11 and July 21-25. These little ones will be just getting started in dance, and that means having a good time with lots of creative movement exercises, plus crafts and other artistic projects.

GBT is Gwinnett’s only fully non-profit dance studio and company. Founded in 1977 by Lyn Snipes, GBT recently moved to its spacious new studios at 1800 Macleod Drive in Lawrenceville. With the move and additional space came new opportunities to reach more young artists. As a result, GBT is inviting dancers age 7 and up to special “placement classes” on April 27, July 20 and August 3. These are not “auditions,” and the classes are free. They are held at the GBT studios. Although it is not required to attend these classes for enrollment in either summer or fall, it is highly recommended.

GBT’s own dancers will be enjoying summer intensives at home, but many are also flying off to very special intensives at major ballet companies.

Proving that excellent instruction at home is essential for success elsewhere, GBT dancers have won scholarships or acceptances to School of American Ballet and American Ballet Theatre in New York City, American Ballet Theatre regionally, Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Next Generation Ballet, Orlando Ballet, Miami Ballet, Carolina Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Ballet Chicago and many more prestigious national companies.

To find out more about GBT’s summer and fall programs, call 770-237-0046 or visit www.gwinnettballet.org.