It’s time for ballet camp!

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Photos of studio: Reathel Geary, 5d-Creative
Photos of young Ballet Fantastique dancers: Jerry Gowins
Meeting a Ballet Fantastique dancer photo: Taylor Jewell

Summer Fairytale Ballet Camps at The Academy of Ballet Fantastique are right around the corner (for boys and girls ages 4-7), and we wanted to give you a little taste for what our young dancers will be up to in the studio; after all, this is where the magic will be happening for many youngsters who are brand new to dance, and there’s something very beautiful about that! Like all BFan classes, there’s a lot more going on than just glorified babysitting. You will be truly astounded at what these kids can learn and do in just two hours a day for one week. I know that I am every summer!

We were the first to offer week-long themed camps in our area (starting ten years ago), and we’ve developed a special formula for what we do and how we do it. Each day begins with a full dance lesson, encompassing a Pre-Ballet syllabus that I developed years ago out of my UO Dance Department coursework. The syllabus includes fundamental concepts of ballet (including positions of the feet, arms, and the first forms of key ballet steps, like plie, port de bras, pas de chat, saute, etc.). It also includes key concepts of rhythm and music (e.g., adagio, allegro, andante, staccato, legato, and how dance works with music), the vocabulary of movement in space (points of the room, kinesphere or self-space, levels in space), lots of creative sparkle (structured choreography: in one class, we might be everything from lions, to clowns, to spaghetti, to magical beanstalks), and elements of working together (when to follow the leader vs. when to do your own thing, taking turns, etc.). We balance a lot of fun with motivated-yet-age appropriate expectations for what kids should know…and what are capable of learning (a lot!). Whether or not they will become the next Svetlana Zakharova or Mikhail Baryshnikov–or a schoolteacher–or a rocket scientist–these concepts equip young people with athleticism, musicality, confidence, and even social skills. You can tell how passionate I am about all this, so forgive the tangent/sermon. 🙂

Then, after our awesome daily dance lesson, we’ll delve into our story of the week! Rather than choose very general concepts (though I have to say that a camp themed after a color, e.g., “Pinkalicious Camp” sounds pretty darn fun–so kudos the local dance schools offering these!), we’ve always chosen real ballet stories for the kids to study.

This summer, young dancers can mix and match from the following list:
Swan Lake: July 11-15
Coppelia: July 18-22
Sleeping Beauty: July 25-29
Where the Wild Things Are: August 1-5

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Photos of City Center for Dance: Reathel Geary, 5d-Creative

Note: All camps are from 9-11 am, Monday-Friday, at our beautiful new City Center for Dance studio, and include all activities (craft, dance lessons, healthy snack, and end-of-the-week performance with costumes and stage makeup). Camps are $85 each or $150 for any two!

Studying the story includes Storytime and then watching a renowned ballet company perform the ballet story while we enjoy a healthy snack. Teachers facilitate discussion questions (From “Which character do you think that is?” to “Why is the music scary here?”). Next, we’ll participate in a daily craft related to our story, which might include a prop (like a crown that will be used in our Friday performance) or a miniature costume or set design, depending on the day of the week and the story in question (we don’t want to give it ALL away here, folks!). While we work on our craft projects, we’ll also listen to music from the story and discuss how it helps to tell the story’s action. Each camp morning finishes with a rehearsal of choreography for our performance at the end of the week! Some fun additional activities throughout the week include meeting a BFan company dancer in costume, a field trip to the public library’s dance section (with parental permission, of course), and a performance at the end of the week complete with costumes, stage makeup, kid-produced tickets, programs, choreography inspired by the original, and a viewing of the scenery and costumes that each young dancer would create in his/her own staging of the production someday. (We’ve got fun stories from past projects: one young man many years ago elected to give Von Rothbart, the bad guy in Swan Lake, gingivitis and a case of bad plaque in his costume design–“since Mr. Rothbart is so evil and irresponsible.”)

Parents will learn, too: Expect a full report on the ballet story, composer, and key musical moments during the Friday performance at the end of each Camp week.

Finally, another key ingredient that makes BFan’s Fairytale Ballet Camps so special is that they are limited in size to nine kids…so each young dancer truly gets a lot of personal attention from his or her teacher, creates some great new friendships, and feels comfortable to learn and reach their highest potential and to contribute creatively. We love what we do and know that you will too! Please help us pass the word along about our very Fantastique Fairytale Dance Camps (we still have a few spaces available in all camps, but our weekly Shooting Stars class on Wednesday afternoons is full).

You can learn more about the camps and register online here!

Psst: We also have limited space still available for some Professional Division Summer Intensive Program workshops (ages 7 and up)…just send us an email or give us a call!

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