Karen Arceneaux is about to deliver some bad news for the group of advanced-beginner Horton students assembled before her: She's cutting the counts in half for an already tricky exercise.
The Ailey School
The Dance Enthusiast - Moving Caribbean in NYC: Joan Peters, Teacher of the Katherine Dunham Technique at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's School
While a New York native born and bred, Joan Peters moves Caribbean almost everyday and has done so, amazingly, since the age of five. It all started when her great-aunt, who loved to read about Katherine Dunham (the legendary dancer, anthropologist, writer and activist who famously brought dances of the Caribbean to stage prominence) sought out the pioneer’s dance classes for her young niece.
Conan O'Brien's Harlem odyssey continued Tuesday night with a visit to the famed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, where the lanky late-night host attempted to learn modern dance over the course of one lesson. Under the tutelage of co-director Tracy Inman, O'Brien morphs from a clumsy, uncoordinated and rigid amateur into…essentially the same thing.
One way students can explore dance's past is by learning historical repertory. Ailey/Fordham BFA students take Black Traditions in American Dance and World Dance History, which are often coordinated with repertory classes. "The movement shows you a different side of what you're learning in the classroom," says Marie Paspe, a recent graduate of the program, who learned Blues Suite and Revelations from Ailey II artistic director emerita Sylvia Waters.
Peter Brandenhoff has just announced to his Ballet Arts students that he'll be taking it easy this class, because he recently tore his calf muscle. "I'm going to sit here like an old Russian," he says in his faint Danish accent, as he moves to a chair to the front of the cavernous New York City Center studio and sits down.
Students from The Ailey School pose with Oprah for the December 2015 cover of O Magazine.
She started dancing at the age of three and that was only because her mother went to a Target store and picked out a ballet outfit just to see how her toddler would look in it. For Courtney Celeste Spears, it's like she never took off the leotard.
With only two weeks left in The Ailey School's Summer Intensive Program, Gabriel Hyman collided with his partner during a rehearsal for the final performance and suffered a calf-muscle tear. "I was told that a recovery would take at least two weeks," said Hyman, who's currently an Ailey II apprentice and a junior in the Ailey/Fordham University BFA program.
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A dance certificate doesn't equal a college degree, but it can help smooth the transition into professional life.