Community Building at BH: Students and Masters Unite

“Community is defined as a group of two or more people who, regardless of the diversity of their backgrounds, have been able to accept and transcend their differences. They are able to communicate openly and effectively; and to work together toward common goals, while having a sense of unusual safety with one another.”

The Foundation for Community Encouragement

School of Dance Program Advisor Kiri Avelar writes this guest post on community building at Ballet Hispanico!

Ballet Hispanico is a community of dance; of children and adults, students and faculty.  Recently, the mother of BHdos dancer Ana Estrada reached out to us, offering to teach a FREE master class on Spanish Dance to our students, and the word community rang clear. Gabriela Estrada is currently obtaining her PhD on the influence of Flamenco on Ballet at the University of Sevilla, Spain and has a strong passion for both dance and community.

Gabriela gives a presentation to students while BH faculty look on.

Gabriela gives a presentation to students while BH faculty look on.

On Saturday, November 23rd, we welcomed Ms. Estrada to our BH studios.  A beautiful master class was held for our community of students: Pre-Professional Program levels 3A, 3B, 4A, 4B, and General Program level Teen Flamenco II. The goal of the master class was to introduce and explore the connections between Escuela Bolera, Danza Estilizada and flamenco as a group. It was so thrilling to see students across levels and programs come together alongside our faculty in one setting.

It is vital that our students have experiences, such as this one, that inspire and motivate them, giving them a real sense of what they are working towards in their regular training at Ballet Hispanico. They begin to connect the dots in their learning and are introduced to new concepts from a fresh perspective. Their world is opened up to a myriad of possibilities and experiences, all through a flamenco and Spanish dance lens. Our flamenco faculty are passionate about their work in the classroom and feel a great sense of responsibility to instill the discipline, technique, and passion of their dance form to the community of students at Ballet Hispanico.

“Their world is opened up to a myriad of possibilities and experiences, all through a flamenco and Spanish dance lens.”

Students learning a patada por bulerías.

Believing in the importance of dance for a community, we continue to explore the many ways our students can have experiences outside of the classroom that will propel and illuminate their learning inside the classroom. Providing access to new opportunities, such as Gabriela Estrada’s master class on Spanish dance, builds upon the seeds they are planting, helping to further nourish these young artists.

-Kiri Avelar

Dancers in the Studio

Just because our season at The Joyce wrapped a couple of weeks ago, it doesn’t mean Ballet Hispanico has slowed down at all! Our School of Dance students are very busy preparing for their End of Year Recital at the beginning of June, and BH Company members have graciously lent a hand. For the past few weeks, our dancers have been visiting classrooms to help our students perform their very best!

Recently, Lauren Alzamora visited Ms. Kiri’s Spanish Class. This is what she had to say about her experience:

“I asked to see the girls run their dance for the recital.  This was outside of their normal routine, as it was in the first half hour of class, before practicing the piece in sections.  I was pretty pleased with the run, but since there is always room for improvement, I asked each girl to tell me a spot where they messed up or could have done better.  Every girl was aware of at least one or two self-corrections, and as suspected there were some commonalities. We had the girls time on their own to practice their individual self corrections.

I narrowed it down to three areas of focus and we worked on the clarity of steps and positions in those three sections.  Next time I visit we will work those three corrections at the beginning and run the footwork section before running the dance.  We will see what they held on to!

I love how every one of the girls demonstrated self awareness – it gives the teacher the opportunity to reinforce the virtue of self-responsibility.  We are teaching them how to use their self-awareness toward a better end result (by practicing their self corrections).

I realize it is important to give them clear goals to strive for in each section. And since they don’t come to class every day, reinforce what we spoke about each time – the power of repetition! Looking forward to next week!”

We’ll have more stories in the weeks leading up to the recital. Thank you to our students, teachers, and Company dancers!

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