I remember seeing lots of smiles when my young daughters (now in college) trained at Dance Theater West — on the faces of students, parents and teachers. Even their teen dancers, who always struck me as more collaborative than competitive. It’s something too often taken for granted or undervalued by parents who consider dance a solely individual enterprise in which having perfect technique is all that truly matters.
In reality, very few of the little girls and boys who study dance go on to careers in anything even remotely related. Long after the finer points of leaps and turns once mastered fade away, the person who executed them is still there. As are memories of experiences both in the studio and backstage. So watch for smiles as you’re looking for summer dance programs for your children — considering the intangibles being modeled and taught.
I smiled after learning that the Summer Dance 2012 program at Dance Theater West includes three musical theater workshops, remembering my daughter Jennifer’s final performance for one of their workshops with a “Les Miserables” theme. This year’s themes are “Chicago” (June 11-5), “Mary Poppins” (June 18-22) and “South Pacific” (June 25-29).
These musical theater workshops include ballet, character dance, tap, jazz, singing, sign language and acting for ages 10 through teens. Workshops meet Mon-Thurs (10am-2:30pm) and times for Thurs/Fri performances are TBA. Each workshop is $200 (a $25 deposit is required with registration).
A ballet intensive for ages 11 through teens who’ve had at least two years ballet training takes place June 4-8 with an “Aladdin” theme. It features classical, lyrical, character and pointe (optional). The ballet intensive meets Mon-Thurs 10am-2:30pm — and there’ll be a final performance on Friday. The cost is $200 and a $25 deposit is required.
Dance Theater West also offers several summer dance options for children ages six to nine,” including “Kids on Broadway” — which features songs from kid-friendly musicals including “Annie,” “Oliver,” “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and more. This baby meets June 4-8 from 10am to noon with a final performance at 11am on Fri, June 8. The cost is $125.
“Once Opon a Mattress” for the ages six to nine set includes musical numbers from a Broadway musical based on the tale of “The Princess and the Pea.” Dance inspired by peas sounds a lot more fun than actually eating the darn things. This session takes place June 11-15 from 10am to noon, and the final performance is scheduled for 11am on Fri, June 15. It’s also $125.
“Creating a Musical” for ages six to nine takes place June 18-22 from 10am to noon. After each child picks a favorite musical, they’ll create a collective revue featuring monologues inspired by each musical’s history or fun facts — and participants will get to try their hand at group choreography. This session takes place June 18-22 from 10am to noon, with a final performance at 11am on Fri, June 22. Yup, this puppy is $125 too.
I suppose I should mention a final reason to smile here. While your little darlings are off dancing, you can enjoy a few of your own creative pursuits.
Note: Aftercare from noon-2pm is available for dancers in the 10am-noon sessions for six to nine year olds. It’s $15/day or $50 for all four days. Fans of “Once Upon a Mattress” will be pleased to learn that it’s being performed this month by Starlight Community Theater in North Phoenix.
Coming up: Justice tales, Art meets women’s wellness, Dance classes for grown-ups, Playing in the dirt
Update: This post has been corrected to reflect the fact that Karen Travis does not, in fact, leap about in a pink tutu and funky socks. — 4/2/12