Rebecca Janes asked a group of 11-year-olds to run around the dance studio, weaving in and out of each other.
For most groups of preteens, that’s asking for trouble.
But for the 27 who make up the Chautauqua Dance Workshop I students, that’s asking a simple task of a mature group of dancers, all of whom are ready to learn, work hard and put in hours of practice.
Those dancers will perform six pieces in the Workshop I studio show at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Verdy and McBride studios at the Carnahan-Jackson Dance Studio.
Janes, Chautauqua ballet resident faculty, said the pieces will include ballet, hip-hop, contemporary, character and group pieces featuring the girls and boys. There are 21 girls and six boys in the program, she said, ages ranging from 10 to 13.
The exposure to many different styles is beneficial to the young dancers, Janes said.
“I feel like every company now is doing a bunch of different work, a bunch of contemporary as well as classical to stylistic ballets that involve character or even jazzy pieces with a lot of hip-hop moves,” Janes said. “Every company is doing so much that I feel like the more versatile a dancer can be … it’ll just enhance their career and … if a choreographer comes in and wants them to be able to do something really contemporary, they’ll be able to do that as well as something really classical.”
The group has learned a lot from the two weeks: don’t look down, come to class prepared and work hard.
“You can’t joke around in the classes,” said Ava Joseph, a Workshop I dancer. “You need to come in knowing your parts.”
Whether it’s a simple correction or learning a new skill, Janes said she hopes the dancers have learned from the dance faculty during their two weeks on the grounds and experiencing what Chautauqua has to offer. For some of the dancers, they’ve learned about perseverance.
“Sometimes you can’t do things and … after you try, then eventually you can do them and you get a lot better,” said Workshop I dancer Annika Lambert.
Below the Workshop I level, the dance program offers a pre-workshop weekend for ages 7–10. Janes said a lot of the dancers have started in those weekends and grow through the program as they continue to return.
“I came here last year and thought I would be a little bit better, but I came back and I was amazed at how much I’ve grown as a dancer, and not only as a dancer, but as a student and person,” said Workshop I dancer Emma Robinson.