Dance brought Constance Stamatiou to life. Her journey began as a 5-year-old at Pat Hall's Dance Unlimited off Independence Boulevard, where she took everything from ballet to tap to jazz to gymnastics. Stamatiou returns next week with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at Belk Theater on Feb. 25-26 - 7:30p.m. curtain.
When Lucy wanted to find a place in her Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood to send her two young and very active boys, she didn’t have to look very far. Her family lives next to Alvin Ailey, the famous dance school. At the time, she had no idea what a big impact weekly dance lessons would make on her sons’ lives, or how the culture and discipline of dance would shape them as teens who are now in high school. Here’s Lucy’s story.
For 50 years, the Ailey School on the west side of Manhattan has provided world class training to dancers of all ages and backgrounds from New York City and around the globe. From Madonna to Jasmine Guy, alumni have gone on to be trailblazers in the industry. Launched by Alvin Ailey in 1969, the school started out with just 125 students and aimed to provide access to arts and dance to under-resourced communities. Ailey’s message of inclusivity is one that resonates to this day with the school’s co-directors, Tracy Inman and Melanie Person.
In 1979, a young New York City boy met Alvin Ailey at his public elementary school during a dance workshop; unbeknownst to him it was an audition. Then nine-year-old Troy Powell had no idea who Mr. Ailey was and no formal dance training, although he came from a large African American family where dance was interwoven into their everyday home life. "I was handpicked to join the first children's program at The Ailey School, and the experience made a huge impact and changed my life," says Powell, who continued to climb the ranks through the School's professional division, Ailey II, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. He succeeded Sylvia Waters in 2012 as Ailey II's Artistic Director.
Young students often jump from creative movement - the perfect introduction to any modern technique - straight into ballet, bypassing modern until high school or even college. Yet teaching modern to children shapes future well-rounded, adventure-seeking dancers - students who are not afraid to really run, slide on the floor or create movement.
Students from The Ailey School appear on an episode of Sesame Street.
Jacqulyn Buglisi has a flair for drama. To encourage the students in her intermediate and advanced Graham classes at The Ailey School to open their sternums in a high release, she tells them to stretch "like a flower came out of your heart."
When Brenda Didier moved her studio, Lincolnshire Academy of Dance, to its new location in Vernon Hills, Illinois, she made sure the new setting could accommodate all the necessary elements: barres, mirrors, dance floors - and space for accompanists to play for the school's classes.
Step at a Time: Matilda Mackey from Ohio City, Ohio, practices jumps and poses on the main plaza at Lincoln Center as temperatures were in the high 80s on Tuesday.
It takes many years of study to acquire a professional level of dance technique, so aspiring dancers must begin training at a very young age. Even those who start performing professionally as youngsters must continue training through their adolescent years.