Dance Recital Season
For a dancer, the end of the academic school year also means the magic and mayhem that is the Dance Recital. A year’s worth of hard work, training, choreography, and rehearsals all lead up to that one day of performing on stage in front of parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, friends, and of course, complete strangers. It is the time that every dancer, no matter what age, looks forward to and prepares for the entire year – as a teacher at Locust Performing Arts Center in Stamford, CT, I am hit by a barrage of questions immediately starting after the Christmas break: ‘When are our costumes coming in?’ ’What song are we dancing to?’ ’How should we wear our hair?’ These questions usually come from my younger students, as the anticipation for the Recital lasts for six months, an excruciatingly long time for a seven-year-old. But it is that anxious excitement leading up to the monumental day of the Recital that makes the year’s preparation worth even more the while.
Jimmy Locust, founder and director of the school (LPAC), has worked with pop dance legends including Michael Jackson and Paula Abdul, and started LPAC two years ago. His passion for dance and his love for teaching children is overwhelming and inspiring; you can see the direct correlation between his teaching and the excitement and talent in his students. Classically trained in all styles, Locust is known for his immeasurable energy and his Hip-Hop technique. He also founded Harmony Nation which is a performing group of students promoting anti-bullying in the schools, something that is necessary in the academic setting today.
With sparkles and fringe and all things neon, the Recital was a huge part of my life growing up as well. A giant box of old costumes still sits in a closet in my parents’ house, waiting to be opened and rummaged through by the next generation of Mallozzi ballerinas. And being that I am your typical Type A over-organizer, as a student I would color code my rehearsal schedules, make charts for my costumes and timings for quick changes, and of course have my shoes in order of appearance (black jazz shoes, pink ballet shoes, nude tap heels, etc.). It was a part of the process that was just as important to me as getting on stage and knowing my routines, and in retrospect, it explains so much about me.
Not only were the dancers this weekend talented, but the joy that came out of them while performing on stage was infectious. Of course parents will always be proud of their own children in whatever they do, but this was different; a community of supporters shared a common feeling of appreciation and pride for all of the dancers, whether they were their own children or not. This is their dance school, this is their dance family, and to be proud of every member of that community is what naturally happens in a positive and productive place. And with the pride shared in the community, the sadness is shared as well: A bitter-sweet moment every year at the Recital is the send-off of the members of the graduating senior class. The dancers that always shine are the ones that seem to leave too soon, with their time at the school not measured by the hours they worked to get to where they are but by how far they will go once they leave the stage of the Recital for the last time, in whatever they do. To another great year and another season of Dance Recitals everywhere!
1. Summer Courses at LPAC: Locust Performing Arts Center is offering summer courses and workshops for all ages – for more information, go to LocustPerformingArts.com or call 203.962.4934.
2. Anti-Bullying: Bullying has become a huge problem in the American public school system, and Locust’s Harmony Nation is a big step in the right direction. Be sure to also check out the documentary Bully in theaters now – it is an eye-opening revelation of what this country’s students are going through, and it will inspire you to make a change. Got to TheBullyProject.com for more information.
3. Locust Under 5: Jimmy Locust has started a reality series called Locust Under 5′ which shows his view of the dance world, literally, at being under five feet tall! Be sure to check out upcoming episode teasers online, including footage from this year’s recital.
4. Summer Abroad: La Luna Dance Center in Ancona, Italy (director Cristiano Marcelli) holds an annual summer intensive of dance for all ages for two weeks in July: Graham technique, Pina Bausch workshops, African dance, break dance, ballet, Bollywood, and classes in almost anything else you can think of are offered. A great escape to a beach town on the Adriatic for two weeks (or as long as you can afford to get away) and open to any level dancer, this program is the ultimate dance vacation! For more information, go to www.lalunadancecamp.com
5. Recital photos: For more photos from the Locust Performing Arts Center Recital, click here!