Daily classes in classical ballet and modern dance techniques, taught by exceptional resident and guest faculty with professional and academic expertise, form the foundation of the ASFA Dance curriculum. Classes in pointe and men’s technique, pilates, partnering, variations, repertoire, hip-hop, and dancer wellness are also included in the weekly schedule for all dancers.
In the junior and senior years, students broaden their study of dance through a professional dance practicum. Dance is a performing art, thus rehearsal and performance are also an important component of the curriculum.
Ballet has long been recognized as the foundation for all concert dance forms. Ballet classes, based upon traditional classical ballet and supported by the principles of Ruth Petrinović’s “Revolutionary Principles of Movement”, are offered daily to all dancers at ASFA. Age-appropriate exercises and enchaînements are designed to systematically build upon a basic understanding of the principles of ballet, firmly guiding and encouraging a student to develop the technical mastery needed for full artistic expression.
Men’s Technique is a ballet class for male dancers specifically designed to enhance the physical strength, power, and brilliance of male dancing with attention to elevation, pirouettes, and batterie.
Pointe class, offered to all female dancers, focuses on correct pointe technique through an appropriate and challenging vocabulary. The dancer learns all about the pointe shoe, including its use and care, as well as how to correctly stand en pointe. Increasingly difficult exercises are designed to build the dancers’ strength and agility necessary to perform the traditional classical repertoire.
Pas de Deux/Partnering
Pas De Deux/ Partnering is a class designed to help dancers learn the skill of partnering. Components of this class include the role of balance and core support for both males and females, the exploration of means of support, and the necessity to coordinate efforts to attain the desired quality of movement. Proper lifting techniques are also taught to ensure a safe and injury-free interaction.
Based upon concepts of American modern dance, modern technique classes address the use of weight, space, dynamics, and musicality inherent in the modern dance tradition. The class begins with a comprehensive warm-up followed by exercises moving across the floor and finishes with allegro combinations.
Variations and Repertoire
Variations and Repertoire are classes, during which variations and repertoire from the classical to modern genres are taught and practiced. Emphasis is placed upon the correct technique, accurate style, and appropriate interpretation of each selection of repertory.
Because dance is a performing art and the “stage is the best teacher”, dancers are involved in rehearsals 4 – 5 hours a week in preparation for 3 main stage productions and numerous informal presentations throughout the year. Choreography is purposefully diversified to allow students to become familiar with various forms and styles of performance dance. Performances include works from the traditional ballet, modern repertory, and original works by resident or guest faculty.
Professional Dance Practicum
Dance composition – students delve into a series of tasks that involve generating movement vocabulary, planning, problem-solving, and developing a movement toolkit. Dance History- an exploration of the relevant events in the history of theatrical dance. Elements of Performance- examination of the 4 performance elements through observation of varied styles and genres. Costume preparation and maintenance- includes all pre-performance and performance duties. Career guidance- students work on resume building and research on possible career paths.
In the senior year, dancers focus on the dance composition aspect of PDP. Emphasis is placed upon the craft of composition as well as discovering an individual voice. Seniors begin the year by designing and executing an Out Reach program that is taken into schools, organizations, and festivals across the state. This assignment is followed by an interdisciplinary dance composition project involving ASFA’s senior Creative Writers and Visual Artists. Lastly, Dance seniors choreograph an original dance presented in a fully produced during the spring semester.
Pilates is an excellent source of cross-training for dancers. It has been shown to improve concentration, enhance performance, and diminish injuries. Through Pilates, dancers learn to access the deeper, more intrinsic muscles that strengthen the core, as well as to bring into balance both strength and flexibility. Pilates also helps to deepen dancers' understanding of alignment.
Classes in injury prevention and nutrition are offered to all dancers during the academic year. In addition, a physical therapist, specifically trained to address the special needs of a dancer, visits the campus bi-weekly to monitor the dancers’ physical conditions.