BFan Academy Fall Session has Officially Started!

Last weekend, we kicked off our Academy Fall Session with an Open House Event at our studio! We had delicious snacks, offered example classes, held a raffle for BFan apparel, and there was even a surprise performance by our company dancers. Not only did we get to see our wonderful academy dancers after taking a short break for the summer, but we also were able to meet many new academy dancers that are joining us this week! 

Class with Ms. Hannah

Above: A special ballet class with Executive Director, Ms. Hannah!

Surprise Performance with Ms. Cari and Mr. Natanael

Above: Ms. Cari & Mr. Natanael during their surprise performance for our Open House guests!

Enrollment is still open at the Ballet Fantastique Academy. To enroll your dancer, visit our academy website.

Adult classes are also offered at the Ballet Fantastique Academy.  For more information, visit our academy website.

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What is the Vaganova Method?

“A single style, a single dance ‘handwriting,’ which manifests itself most clearly in the harmonious plasticity of movement and the expressiveness of the arms, in the responsive suppleness and at the same time the iron aplomb of the body, in the noble and natural placement of the head—and these are the distinctive traits of the ‘Vaganova school’.”

–Natalia Dudinskaya, former Vaganova student

Ballet Fantastique’s Professional Division classes follow the eight levels of the internationally renowned Vaganova Syllabus a notated and progressive training program that has produced some of the best dancers in the world, including Anna Pavlova, Mikhail Baryshnikov, the legendary choreographer George Balanchine, and professional dancers in almost every company in the world. The Vaganova Method combined elements of the French romantic ballet’s lyricism and the Italian ballet’s athleticism to reform the old imperial method of teaching.

The Vaganova method is a method of teaching classical ballet that was developed by Agrippina Vaganova. Vaganova spent 30 years teaching ballet and throughout this time she developed a dance technique and a method of teaching this technique. There are various aspects that define the Vaganova method including the development of lower back strength and arm plasticity, and the requisite strength, flexibility and endurance for ballet. The Vaganova method of training focuses on the ability of the dancer to perform a classical pas de deux and concentrates on precision in a teacher’s instruction.

The Vaganova lessons are very well planned out because Vaganova did not believe in the improvisation of a teacher at a lesson. The method ensures that the dancers understand the reason behind every exercise. The Ballet Fantastique students don’t only learn how to master a step, but also how to perform it correctly and its purpose. Vaganova’s system strives to promote dancing with the whole body in order to acquire a combination of movement to widen the range of the dancer’s ability.

The Vaganova method is considered to be very clean, with precise movements that express clean lines yet softness underneath. Even though Ballet Fantastique’s Vaganova-trained dancers are very strong and clean, they are still able to perform softly and beautifully on stage without robotic stiffness. For more information about classes at Ballet Fantastique, click here!

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!

Meet your dancers

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Ballet Fantastique company dancers Amelia, Hannah, Leanne, and Krislyn as part of photographer McKenna Johnson’s COLORS series.

More of McKenna’s work (including some Ballet Fantastique performance shots):
website: http://www.wix.com/mk3nna/mckennaphoto
blog: http://heretothere1.wordpress.com/
vimeo: http://vimeo.com/mckennaphoto

We love being out in the community and working with local artists! Feel free to contact us to get on our projects list of collaborators. 🙂 Thanks for the awesome opportunity, McKenna!