Monday, June 16, 2008

With Our Friends in Charleston

From June 16-20 we once again had the pleasure of visiting our friends at the River City Youth Ballet in Charleston, WV. Not only were we teaching three classes a day, but Valery Lantratov prepared special choreography for the dancers in the advanced level. His creation was called "The Lesson." Its theme is a ballet class with students playing and trying to impress one another with their moves until the teacher comes in and gets them to focus on pure classical technique. It was a lot of fun to watch him work on the piece.

He also had the opportunity to unveil his newest class for little dancers. With a new music CD and a mix of gymnastics and ballet, the children seemed to enjoy jumping, stretching and pointing their toes.

In our off hours, we had the chance to watch some interesting educational ballet videos by David Howard and a partnering lesson with the ABT as well as the Kenneth MacMillan version of Romeo and Juliet, and to compare Russian vs. English method.

Here's a bit of Charleston trivia for you: The book "Very Charleston" by Diana Hollingsworth Gessler, tells the story of Reverend Daniel Jenkins who found four young orphans huddled behind a wood pile in 1892 and decided to start an orphanage for African-American kids. To fund his venture, he gathered up used instruments and created a little ragtime and jazz band that played on street corners for coins. They did a "crazy geechie dance," that Gessler reports was in "local tour guide lore" the origin of The Charleston. Of course, when an author says "local legend has it," it generally means there is no historical evidence to back it up, but it's such a good story that she wants it to be true anyway.