Wednesday, July 18, 2007

July 16-20: Mary Kay Manning Studio

Today we'll be at the halfway mark of our first week long intensive. We are working with students of three different levels at the Mary Kay Manning School of Dance.

Mary Kay and Tammy have studios in Brunswick and North Royalton. Our classes are large because they consist of students from both. The studio offers a full range of classes from jazz to hip hop to lyrical and ballet. Although the students take many classes and participate in competitions, I believe this is an unusually intensive focus strictly on classical ballet for them.

As with other studios, Valery puts a lot of focus on correct posture, keeping the shoulders and hips square, not getting off axis and on the carriage of the arms, fingers and head. He also emphasizes listening to the music and conveying its emotion with gestures and facial expressions and on finishing every motion.

We begin each day with the youngest students. They are working on a special dance to show their parents at the end of the course.

They're learning the dance well, and seem to truly enjoy it. We're working a lot on getting the kids to step in unison and to start on the same foot every time.

After that we work our way up through the junior and senior classes. (This photo is from the junior class) With the senior class, Valery shows the combinations very quickly and expects the students to pick them up as quickly. They have been rising to the challenge.

Working every day with the same students helps to reinforce all of Valery's corrections and we have seen improvement after only one day. What is more, it is wonderful to be able to establish a relationship with students over a period of time and to really get to know them, although Valery knows them by face and by carriage of the arms rather than by name. "You, remember your shoulders!"

We have copies of our book, A Child's Introduction to Ballet with us every day, and we'll be available to autograph copies for anyone who'd like to buy one. Someone pointed out to me that although we mentioned we had them, we hadn't actually mentioned that we wrote the thing. So I'm doing so now.

A full week of three classes a day (especially as Valery tends to run long) is tiring but fulfilling. We're really interested to see how the students have grown by Friday.

By the way, we were tickled by a comment that someone posted on You Tube about Valery. The poster took two classes with him and said, "He rocks!" Cool!