3/2/17 by Miss Katie Cook
I have two great joys in teaching Ballet 5 at Allegro. The first, of course, is the wonderful dancers. This group of incredible young women range in age from 8th through 11th grade. They are curious, inspiring, hard-working, creative, funny, talented, intelligent, unique and diverse. Many I have taught for several years. Watching them progress from their first day in Ballet 5 to where they are today is a positive and continuous journey, and I know it will continue to be as we finish our dance season in June with the Spring Dance Concert.
My second great joy in teaching Ballet 5 is our live accompanist, Mr. Tom Burson. Every Monday evening, Mr. Burson takes his place at the piano in Studio A, and we begin our plies. From start to finish, he glances, not once, at any sheet music. Every piece of music is skillfully executed from an impressive repertoire that lies deep within Tom's memory.
Live music teaches these dancers so much: musicality, rhythm, tempo, adaptability, interpretation, increased knowledge and understanding. Recently, we have been delving even deeper to learn specific musical styles and the history behind them, such as the Mazurka or the Polonaise (both of Polish origin, by the way). An often favorite game of mine is to have the dancers play "Guess the Song." Tom's vast musical knowledge includes not only classics, but some of the best songs from the Beatles to musical theater show tunes. All of this shared knowledge is great, but the true gift is the special person seated at the piano.
Two weeks ago, Tom journeyed to Florida to celebrate his mother, Dixie's, 100th birthday! Using materials from the Valentine making station in the lobby, the Ballet 5 dancers each created a one-of-a-kind 100th birthday card for Tom to deliver to Dixie. Upon his return, Tom said she loved the cards!
I often think that my passion for teaching has less to do with my love of dance, and more to do with the opportunity I have to share deep and meaningful connections with people in the studio and community at large. Sharing these cards with Dixie as Tom traveled across the country gave us a chance to think of the far-reaching, age-spanning influence that our human connections, through music and dance, can have with one another.
Mr. Tom Burson and I both agree: "These girls are so wonderful." It is fitting that for the 2017 Spring Dance Concert we will perform "Around the World." On the stage, the dancers will gracefully execute their choreography while Tom accompanies them live on piano. As for me? I'll be beaming with pride from the wings watching this artful merging of music, dance and the gift it will give to the audience!