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"BALLET TECH KIDS DANCE"
By Rosalie Baijer
with Maia Sacca-Schaeffer
June 11 - 14, 2015
The Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10011, (212) 691-9740
Presented by Eliot Feld
Reviewed by Rosalie Baijer June 11, 2015
photo compliments of Ballet Tech
The ambitious kids from KIDS DANCE, an ensemble of dancers aged 9 to 14 from Ballet Tech, the New York Public School for Dance, truly amazed me during the special opening night program of their annual season at the Joyce Theater. This school's mission is inspiring, in that it gives free classical training to kids who are born to dance but lack the opportunity to take classes.
The evening started with a remembrance of LuEsther Mertz by the director Cora Cahan and choreographer Eliot Feld. In 1978, they told Mertz their idea for what was to become the Ballet Tech and through her passion and spirit, the idea became a school. Ballet Tech's dancing children will keep her memory alive for generations to come.
"Ballet Tech Kids Dance" showcased this talent in three hilarious and complex dances choreographed by Eliot Feld. Feld has been dancing his whole life and has choreographed 147 ballets since 1967 for a variety of theaters and companies. The first dance, "Dotty Polkas," is five dances in one, where we meet the dancers, boys and girls of all different ages and backgrounds. It combines the difficult technique of ballet with the children's energy and playfulness. The dance employs props such as colorful bouncy balls and umbrellas to create dynamic patterns. The kids fly across the stage effortlessly while also having fun. The dance elicits what it feels like to move through New York surrounded by a herd of people. It is genius and entertaining from beginning to end.
The second dance begins with the familiar drum music of "Yankee Doodle," highlighting thirteen dancers. In this dance, each dancer gets a moment to shine and performs a unique solo. Even though I am not an American, I immediately can tell this dance is about patriotism and being proud of the diverse backgrounds that make up the USA. With their American flag costumes and crisp army movements, they breathe life into a familiar song. They kids give it their all and are fully committed to the dance. They imbue the dance with moments of humor and their funny facial expressions elicit laughter from the audience. The movements are closely intertwined with the music, and this is especially evident with the breathtaking portion danced to "Ashokan Farewell." In this portion, the kids tell a story not just with their stunning technique but also through honest and sincere emotions and facial expressions.
photo compliments of Ballet Tech
Each school year Ballet Tech sends auditions teams to approximately 200 public elementary schools in all five boroughs and auditions 30,000 children in their local schools. Eventually the most talented, eager and energetic kids (approximately 50 each year) are invited to enter the full time Ballet Tech school for classical dance. This rigorous audition process results in an unbelievably high skill level. It's hard not to feel happy watching these kids having the time of their lives on stage, doing what they were born to do.
The last dance, "KYDZNY," ends the show on a high point. The kids are all wearing bright colors and move as a dynamic and unified group. This number truly shows how much fun the kids have and the way dance allows them to let go. The age difference is large, there are kids grades 4-8, but through dance they are all brought together. At the end of the dance some of the youngest girls blow bubbles across the stage, adding to the beautiful final image of all the dancers. It doesn’t matter where you come from, if you are talented and passionate about dance, Ballet Tech creates a space to explore this love. Not only does the school encourage kids to be excited about dance, it also teaches them to work as a team so as to create a unified composition in which every part is integral to telling the story.
Every child with a gift for dance deserves a chance to do what they love.
Rosalie Baijer, from Holland, is an Assistant Editor of Curator's Choice.
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