SPECIAL FEATURE

our nutcracker performance is this weekend!

our nutcracker performance is this weekend!

A Westport holiday tradition…

nutcracker 2017 is almost here

nutcracker 2017 is almost here…

our 2017-2018 season is in session

our 2017-2018 season is in session

Another Westport Academy of Dance season is rapidly approaching…

our 35th performance of the nutcracker (full-length video)

Watch our 35th anniversary performance of The Nutcracker here…

alice 2016 video trailer

alice 2016 video trailer

watch the video montage here

performance hair and make-up prep video

For tips and info on preparing hair and make-up for a performance, click to watch the video above Download demo video for iPhone by clicking here

we’re winners and other stories

As many of you know, last month Jr. and Sr. Company members participated in National Dance Week Foundation’s Kick It Challenge. After submitting our video, we were recognized as one of the winners of the 2nd Annual Video Contest in the category of dance studios! We are so excited to be recognized for our efforts and can’t […]

winter showcase video

winter showcase video

Watch the video montage, download video for your iPhone…

one dancer’s love of the nutcracker

Staples High School Sophomore and Academy student Jill Rappaport’s experiences as a dancer in the Academy’s… read more

rave reviews for the academy’s david fernandez and his choreography for joaquin de luz

David Fernandez’s “Five Variations on a Theme” performed by Joaquin De Luz, New York City Ballet…read more

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Huge congratulations to WAD alumni Grace Bergonzi, who has just been named an apprentice with Ailey II, the 2nd company of the world renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre!

Founded in 1974 as the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, Ailey II embodies Mr. Ailey’s pioneering mission to establish an extended cultural community that provides dance performances, training, and community programs for all people. Under the direction of Sylvia Waters from 1974 to 2012, and currently under the direction of Troy Powell, the company has flourished into one of the most popular modern dance companies, combining a rigorous touring schedule with extensive community outreach programs.

Read more about Ailey II & the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre here

After training at Westport’s Academy of Dance thru 2013, Ms. Bergonzi received the Jogues Scholarship and the Alvin Ailey Artistic Merit Scholarship as she entered the  B.F.A. program at Fordham/Ailey.

She graduated summa cum laude in May of 2017, and we are so thrilled for her next chapter, as apprentice with this magnificent company!


Congrats, Grace!

This recital weekend we enjoyed several amazing performances and celebrated Miss Tollie’s 20th year teaching at the Academy. To honor her, we have created a video that highlights her incredible career. Thank you Miss Tollie for all that you do for the Academy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZISGu1xSb6Y&feature=youtu.be

Special thank you to Miss Caitlin for putting this wonderful tribute together.

 

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Westport’s cherished holiday tradition

Performed at Staples High School
Saturday, 12.3.16 at 3:00pm & 7:00pm
Sunday, 12.4.16 at 2:00pm

You can order your tickets here…

Please contact us for more information: 203.226.9987

Watch the trailer from a previous performance
A very behind the scenes look at our 26th year

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Another Westport Academy of Dance season is rapidly approaching!

Enroll in person at the studio, online or via regular mail. Please feel free to call the studio (203.226.9987) or contact us via email with any questions.

senior sendoff

05.19.16

Every year we ask our graduating seniors about their experience while dancing with the school. Here are some words from two very special ladies. From everyone at WAD, we wish you all the best in your future journey.

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My experience at the WAD over the past decade has largely molded me into the person I am. I’m proud of the discipline I’ve learned, but I’m even prouder of how my WAD family has taught me to be a better person. My favorite WAD tradition is the Sr. Company huddles before every Nutcracker. Just before the curtain opens, we spread words of encouragement and love for each other, and I believe this kind of bond translates into an onstage chemistry that makes the performances so special. Thank you to my WAD teachers and all the friends I’ve made during my time here…I’m eternally grateful for being given the privilege to know all of you! – Miranda Saunders

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Over the past 8 years, 8 Nutcrackers, 8 Recitals, 4 Alices, 2 Workshops, 1 Kickline, and countless hours of classes and rehearsals it is finally time for the WAD chapter of my life to come to a close. My first year at the Academy I auditioned for the Nutcracker, not knowing anything about it, or the storyline at all, I aimlessly danced around as a party scene boy and cartwheeling as a candy cane. I remember at the very end of the show all the girls would pile into the wings to watch the final pas de deux of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Never did I ever think that one day I would be able to do that myself. And to do so was the proudest I have ever been of myself and the most fun I have ever had on stage, as I got to dance in the footsteps of my best friends before me and perform with girls I have grown up with from the start. Being at the academy has helped me grow so much as a person. It has built my character, given me discipline and sportsmanship, but also technique, amazing memories, and the faith that if you try your hardest you can achieve your goals. Last year I said goodbye to some of my best friends, who i had been dancing with since I was a young and awkward middle schooler. They were mentors as well as friends, they helped my survivor high school and the academy and to be able to see them everyday was such a blessing. Saying goodbye to the 7 of them was so hard, but then we said hello to 7 more girls. This year I was finally able to be the oldest, after four years of senior company, and I was able to serve as an example for them and help them as my friends has helped me. It is amazing to see how such talented girls, are such amazing people as well, and that is what is so amazing about the academy. I have no doubt that they will carry on the legacy of WAD with grace. I am thankful for all my teachers have done to me and the words of wisdom they have given me over the years, I will carry that with me always. While I will miss the sleepovers, the late rehearsals, the secret snowflake exchange, the pre show rituals, and post show tears, I am so lucky to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. Thank you WAD! -Jane Schutte

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Join us at the Academy for various summer dance camp programs. Short-term sessions and private instruction also available for all ages and levels.

Download the appropriate forms per age group here… Please email us or call the studio (203.226.9987) with any questions, or for assistance placing your dancer into the appropriate program.

Thinking about your summer dance plans…Check out what these 3 dancers experienced last year. 

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Name: Miranda Saunders           Age: 17

 Where did you dance last summer (2015)?

Joffrey Ballet,  Jazz and Contemporary NYC

Did you have to audition for this program?

yes

Why did you choose this program?

I had never attended a program in NYC and thought it would be a neat experience. It was also a convenient program for me because I was able to pick and choose the weeks I wanted to attend so as to fit my own summer schedule. Also, I had never attended a jazz and contemporary summer program, so I wanted to give it a shot!

 What was your favorite experience?

For the ballet program, I got to stay in an apartment in Greenwich village. My roommates were great…one from Belgium, one from Mexico, and our very own Jane Schutte. The apartment was kind of dumpy, but living in the village was really fun! I lived in the financial district for the jazz and contemporary program…although the housing was much nicer, I preferred the excitement of the village. The teachers at both these programs were pretty awesome, and I had a new teacher for nearly every class. I even got to take a variations class taught by NYCB principal Maria Kowroski! Some of the teachers were tough, but I think I learned a lot from all of them.

I found it refreshing to go to a program with dancers from all different backgrounds and from all over the world; in the ballet program, I had classmates from Japan, Argentina, and Brazil!

One thing I really disliked about this program is that my schedule would leave me with 2-3 hour breaks. I’m not sure why this was because there was plenty of studio space and staff…but it really dragged out the day and I found it very irritating to have to completely warm up again after the breaks.

 What kind of dance genres did you do?

The ballet program: ballet, pointe, pas de deux, variations, modern

Jazz and Contemporary Program: ballet, jazz, contemporary, musical theatre, improvisation, improvisation with voice, Horton, Cunningham, hip hop, street jazz, modern, African…

Did you learn anything new during your experience?

I learned a lot at the jazz and contemporary program because I was introduced to so many different styles; I was definitely forced out of my comfort zone. Many of the students at the program were committed trainees who had more experience in different styles of dance than me, so I think I was able to learn a lot from watching them.

 How long were you away or how long did you participate with this summer program?

2 weeks Joffrey Ballet NYC

2 weeks Joffrey Jazz and Contemporary NYC

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Name: Amanda Kenner Age: 16

Where did you dance last summer (2014)?

American Ballet Theatre’s summer intensive  in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Did you have to audition for this program?

Yes

Why did you choose this program?

I auditioned for ABT’s summer program, and was placed in North Carolina which is a fairly high level, so I decided it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

What was your favorite experience?

My favorite experience was the final performance at the end.

What kind of dance genres did you do?

There was a heavy emphasis on ballet, but we also took modern, jazz, yoga, pilates, and character classes. We also took classes about specific parts of ballet, like mime, variations, port de bras, and even walking/running on stage.

Did you learn anything new during your experience?

I learned about ballet mime and taking notes on choreography and corrections, besides just improving my technique. I also learned how to warm up properly, which doesn’t mean just stretching.

How long were you away or how long did you participate with this summer program?

4 weeks

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Name: Carolyn Cassell Age: 13

Where did you dance last summer (2014)?

CPYB in Carlisle, PA

 Did you have to audition for this program?

 We didn’t have to audition to get it, but to get a level.

 Why did you choose this program?

 Because a lot of my friends were going and the teachers said it was really good.

 What was your favorite experience?

 Having lessons with new teachers because they had a different style of teaching.

What kind of dance genres did you do?

 Mostly ballet and one class of modern a week.

 Did you learn anything new during your experience?

 I learned a lot more about technique. 

 How long were you away or how long did you participate with this summer program?

5 weeks.

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nutcracker dad

12.04.15

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Photo: Rachel and Michael Wolfe

 

Ever wonder what it is like to be the Dad in The Nutcracker? Well here is a hilarious story that will give you the idea.

Click Here to check out his blog.

Et Tu, Ballet? A Father’s Attempt To “Participate”

NOVEMBER 19, 2015  by Michael Wolfe

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The email came forwarded with a short note from my wife, direct in its simplicity:

“You’re doing this.”

The email was a plea from Westport’s Academy of Dance, my daughter’s ballet school.  Their upcoming performance of “The Nutcracker”, the annual holiday blockbuster that had entertained and tortured parents for the last century or so, had had an unfortunate setback:  the gentleman who had volunteered for years to play the role of Clara’s father had a conflict and would be unable to perform.  Would anyone be willing to take his place?

I stared at the email for a few minutes, thinking about the implications, and a classic quandary emerged:  does the chance to engage with my daughter’s passion outweigh the outright possibility (or probability) of making a fool of myself?

On the one hand, I am not shy about public performance.  The stage doesn’t bother me, and I have absolutely no pride once the lights are shining down on me.  Anyone who’s been unlucky enough to have seen me scream David Lee Roth songs on karaoke night can attest to this unfortunate side of my personality.  I have a philosophy about performing, most likely born of necessity:  enthusiasm helps cover for an utter lack of measurable talent.  Scream into the microphone and act like you’re a rock star, and you are one (provided said rock star is surrounded only by inebriated friends as witnesses before the alcohol-fueled memory loss sets in).

But this was something altogether different.  I’d seen the Nutcracker dozens of times since my daughter’s first appearance 8 years before.  And I’d seen what the part of the father entails.  He’s only on-stage for a short time, and the demands are mostly cosmetic, but about halfway through his scene, as the music shifts to a slow waltz, it happens:  the dad dances.

Let me be clear: I am not a graceful human being.  I am lucky that I stay upright for long periods of time, considering that my lanky limbs often flail about in random directions.  I bump my knees into walls, chairs and various kitchen appliances at least three times a day.  I have perma-bruises over half of my body from smashing into our open dishwasher.  Our dog knows to clear a path for me when entering a room.  In general, things are better for everyone when I’m not moving.

But what could I do?  My daughter’s entire non-school life is centered around ballet.  She dances 6 or 7 days a week, allowing herself time off only to eat, study, and threaten to kill her brother while he’s sleeping. And it’s not an activity like a team sport that allows a ton of parental participation.  In team sports, parents can coach.  They can cheer their kids on from the sidelines.  They can spend quality time driving up and down the eastern seaboard on their way to a never-ending series of travel soccer games (…on second thought, forget team sports, that sounds awful).  With ballet, a dad tends to have two opportunities for involvement:  he can drop his daughter off at rehearsals, and he can come to her actual performance, which takes place in the dark and practically demands a good nap.  That’s pretty much it.  I can’t teach my daughter how to plie (I can barely spell it).

So this was a golden opportunity of sorts.  I could intimately involve myself in my daughter’s primary activity.  And I could do it before the inevitable teen-angst years to come, when her willingness to tolerate her dad’s presence is likely to drop by at least 50%.

And, in a way, it wouldn’t be my first exposure to the inner workings of a dance performance.  My mother actually ran a modern dance school (and later the foundation that supported it) for decades.  She was not an instructor, but as a child was such an eager and entranced student that she began working there as a young adult, eventually rising to became the studio’s Director.  You can imagine the boyhood joy I felt in being dragged to hundreds of dance performances on glorious weekends when my friends were playing baseball.  I always assumed it one of my mother’s great disappointments when I failed to show any interest in breaking the gender barrier at her school, so perhaps this was a chance to make amends.

So I sent an email to the ballet school director, and I was in.  I managed to pass some kind of audition without tripping over the instructor’s torso, and was awarded the role of Clara’s father, party host and elegant man of the hour. Even better, my daughter seemed excited about my involvement, and looked forward to my chance to peek behind the curtain of her favorite activity.

And I shared her enthusiasm…until my first rehearsal.

I was, to put it mildly, a prancing wreck.

To be fair, my predecessor had been occupying the role for nearly a decade.  He had been drafted while his daughter was a ballet student, likely with similar motivations to share a meaningful experience with his young girl.  But as I fumbled through the rehearsals, it was clear that I was in a different league.  He was tall, elegant and coordinated, and understood all of his marks and moves.  I looked like a drunk muppet in the midst of a seizure.

And to make matters worse, no one seemed to care.  The teachers were rightly focused on the girls and their performances, and had clearly grown accustomed to not worrying about what the hapless and possibly spastic adult in the scene needed to do.  But I was lost, an old guy in sweatpants trying to remember whether to turn right or left, bend down or arch up, or hold hands with the tall girl in heels or the short girl with the hair braids.   Actually, no one wanted to hold my hand.  I was sweating like a marathon runner in August, and my hands were dripping buckets.  Most everyone kept their distance, a smart play for sanitary reasons.

The weekend of the performance fast approached, and all of a sudden it was the Friday night dress rehearsal before the series of official shows, three in all over the two-day weekend.  I arrived at the theater nervous, and immediately made two discoveries that only served to boost my confidence further:  one, the video I had been studying for direction and pointers was from the wrong year and of absolutely no benefit, and two, my costume was at least one size too big and could not be properly altered in time for curtain call.  So I had the dual pleasure of not only failing to know my part but also of having a strong likelihood of a Janet Jackson-style wardrobe malfunction that would expose my private parts to a large group of parents and children.

I stumbled through the dress rehearsal, vaguely aware of where I was supposed to be at any given time and managing to find that perfect midpoint point between being an actual asset and screwing up the entire production.  Keep in mind that the part of the father is hardly a main role.  Stand here at this point, open this box at that point, fake some dialogue at this moment, etc.  I’m basically being asked to play a glorified extra, not reenact Baryshnikov’s Greatest Hits.  But there was that one dance scene, where I was required to perform specific body movements to keep in time with the other dancers.  And let’s just say that I wasn’t quite in sync with the ensemble yet.  I looked like Joe Cocker dancing with a team of Beyonces.  Thank god for the patience and attention of the young woman playing my wife in the scene.  She noticed the terror in my eyes, pulled me aside for extra help (like a math teacher in high school, only our ages reversed), and practiced our moves until I had a reasonable amount of confidence that I wouldn’t throw up. But was I properly prepared?  Absolutely not.

The next day came, and I arrived early to the theater to get my head together.  I was immediately escorted to the men’s dressing room, where I met an assortment of professional ballet dancers who were playing the larger male roles to accompany the serious student dancers.  Changing into my oversized costume in front of these impossibly muscular physical specimens of human perfection did absolutely nothing to improve my confidence.  These guys looked like they lived at an Equinox, and hadn’t consumed a trans fat in years.  I looked like I lived at Wendy’s.  This boost was furthered by their choice of legwear.  Professional male dancers wear male leotards, which serve no actual purpose other than making one’s genitals appear to be the size of basketballs, and on the verge of bursting through their thin fabric at any minute.  Having reduced my masculine self-esteem by at least half, I quickly escaped the dressing room and sat down backstage to await further instructions while wondering how I found myself in this mess.  I sulked a bit more when the mother in charge of cast makeup turned to me and exclaimed “can I do something about that forehead?” and started pounding makeup on my face like she was beating a dusty pillow.

And then, salvation arrived.

My daughter emerged from the kid’s dressing area, she and her fellow cast mates moving somewhere backstage to continue their preparations.  I had never seen her before a performance, and she looked ethereal in her wispy snowflake dress, her face in angelic makeup and hair tied tightly in an elegant bun.  She saw me dressed in my overflowing costume, and beamed a smile as wide as I’ve ever seen from her.  “Daddy, you look awesome!” she said, her friends giggling at the site of me transformed into a 19th century aristocrat.  “Let me help!”  She quickly sat down next to me, grabbed the box of makeup that had been cast aside and started dabbing bits of blush and who knows what else on my face.  I smiled and let her have her way, her compliant subject in this backstage rite-of-passage (again, our roles completely reversed and yet utterly satisfying).  As she laughed and performed her makeup magic, my nerves subsided.  “Are you ready?” she asked me, an exaggerated look of worry on her face that couldn’t mask her excitement at having me here with her.  “All set”, I replied, with a wink.  She laughed, and as she walked away to join her castmates, she turned back towards me and shouted “Good luck!”.  I just about melted, and realized how lucky I was to be present in this perfect moment (albeit in a puffy shirt and ballet shoes).

And, as fate would have it, the shows went off without a hitch.  My mind rebooted to its proper settings, I clicked into gear and somehow retained the directions I was given.  I hit my marks.  I bowed at the right times.  And, come the moment of truth, I danced as properly as could be expected from a man of my age and suspect abilities.  I even heard cheers from the crowd during our curtain calls. These may have been leftovers meant for the line of dancers before me, but I took them for my own and am not giving them back.  Thinking back to the decades of dance performances I had sat through as a boy, I remembered the beaming smiles of the girls onstage, knowing that their loved ones were watching and feeling proud of what they had accomplished.  I couldn’t help but smile myself.  Mom may have known what she was doing after all.

Alas, my mother was not there to see the moment.  10 months earlier, she had been diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer.  Six difficult and trying months after that, she was gone.  She died far, far too young, robbed of the chance of seeing her grandchildren grow and see herself reflected in their bodies and faces (or, in the case of my daughter, her jetes and arabesques).  I’m not a believer in afterlives and spirits, but for a brief moment I imagined my mother’s satisfaction, looking down at the sight of her son and granddaughter on stage together, knowing that her life’s passion was being passed on.  My smile widened a bit more at the thought of it.

The next year, and in the three years that followed, additional emails arrived from the school, only these times directed solely to me with the subject line: “Reprising Your Role”.  Needless to say, I’ll be appearing again in this year’s performance, my fourth in a row. No rush to come see me this December, as I expect I’ll be playing this part for a few more years until my daughter graduates.  The school tends to lean towards the comfort of the known entity in their volunteers, however hapless they may be.  I’m already stumbling through rehearsals and fearing for the maintenance of my public dignity.  But I can hack it, for my daughter, my mom, and truthfully, maybe a little for me too.  And my daughter’s got this amazing new blush she can’t wait to try out on me.  Who am I to say no?

Michael Wolfe

senior sendoff

06.25.15

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Every year another group of talented dancers leaves the academy to begin the next chapter of their lives. This year we sendoff 7 amazing ladies who have meant a great deal at the Academy. We wish them the best of luck towards their next adventure and remind them to always visit their dance home.

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Growing up at the academy has taught me a lot. One of the most important things being friendship. The girls that I’m graduating with this year are seriously some of my best friends and I can’t wait to keep up with them even after our time together dancing. I would have never gotten to create such a strong friendship with these girls if it weren’t for Westport’s Academy of Dance. Thank you WAD!

- Harley

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The studio has meant so much to me over the past years. I wasn’t one of the girls that had been there since I was little but regardless it’s become my second home. Everyone was so welcoming, I remember watching nutcracker my first year and being so amazed by all the girls involved. But now those girls have become part of my own life. They are unlike any others. They will always be there for me, to laugh, to dance, to listen to all my problems. They became some of my best friends and for that, I am so grateful. Even the teachers, and Kris of course, have always cared so much for all of us. They treat us like their own family. I can’t imagine how different my life would have been if I never came to WAD.

- Olivia

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For the past 15 years, Westport Academy of Dance has been a huge part of my life. I love coming to the studio everyday, laughing with both my friends and teachers, but still being able to improve and further my dancing. To me, dance is more then just an after school activity, but it is something I truly love. Something that has played a significant role in my journey through the studio is the annual performance of the Nutcracker. I started just in 1st grade as a sheep and angel and have taken part in the Nutcracker ever since. As a little girl, my favorite part in the show was always the lead Arabian. This past year was really special because not only was it my final show, but I was able to perform that part on stage. However, one of the best parts about moving up through the studio and finally becoming a member of Senior Company was the fact that I got to share it with the girls beside me. The six other graduating seniors along with the other members of senior company have become some of my best friends and people I know I will always share something special with. I am definitely going to miss dancing and smiling along side these girls next year.

- Andrea

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One of my best memories of my years at the academy was my last day of classes this year. The younger dancers in senior company surprised all of the seniors with a senior day! They made us a really cute sign and got us a chocolate cake. We were all so surprised and it was really nice that they did something special to celebrate our last day. My favorite Nutcracker memory is the year I was Clara. Clara is always a role I aspired to dance ever since I started at the academy, so it was so rewarding to finally get it. I think my favorite part was being a role model for the younger kids to look up to. I just hope that even after I graduate there will be dancers who remember me or looked up to me. I always looked up to older dancers growing up at the Academy, so it’s really cool that now I’m in that position and girls look up to me. One of the best experiences I’ve had at the academy has been choreographing our graduating senior piece. This dance is the culmination of all our years at the Academy, so it’s amazing to be able to create it with my best friends. The friendships I’ve made at the Academy are so strong and loving, and I know it is because of the incredible environment the teachers have created. Throughout our piece we tried to incorporate a little bit of each teacher’s style of dance to show our appreciation for all they have done for us. This truly has been an amazing experience and I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the Academy. It’s so hard to believe this weekend will be my last time dancing for the Academy, but I am forever grateful for everything.

- Megan

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I have become so close with my dance friends. Every year I become closer with them. I am going to miss laughing and dancing with them. I am so thankful for the academy. The teachers made me feel more confident about myself as a person and a dancer. I am so happy that I grew up at the WAD.

 - Renee

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Thinking about leaving my WAD family breaks my heart, but every memory we’ve made together will stay with me forever. I’ve learned so much over the years, not only about dance, but also about how to be a better person and I’ve forever indebted to my teachers and my girls for that. I’m jealous of all of the younger girls that have time left at the studio, and I hope they cherish every day like I did. Love u wad

- Blair

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I remember the first time I saw nutcracker. I was in Kindergarten and I saw the Sugar Plum Fairy come on stage with her wand and I turned to my mom and said “I’m going to be her one day”. This year, when I finally got to perform the Sugar Plum Fairy pas de deux, it was probably one of the best feelings ever. It was like all my hard work had finally paid off, and I knew little me was sitting in the audience watching. But still, it’s hard for me to say that being the Sugar Plum was my favorite memory at the academy. Because, picking that memory would leave out my 7 amazing teachers, my 1 dedicated mother, and my 9 best friends. It would leave out Secret Snowflake, our scavenger hunts, and our sleepovers. It would leave out the infinite amount of laughter and puddles of tears. It would leave out all the people who have shaped me to be who I am today. It would leave out my family. Therefore, I cannot pick one favorite memory because no one memory could every capture my time at Westport’s Academy of Dance. I will forever miss, but never forget my journey through WAD. And, thank you to everyone who has been part of it.

-Amy

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Another Westport Academy of Dance season is rapidly approaching!

Below please find all relevant information pertaining to registration and how to enroll in person at the studio, online or via regular mail:

Returning Families:
June 8th: Register in person at the studio 9:00am – 8:00pm
June 8th: Register online anytime after 9:00am or via regular mail
June 9th – 10th: Register in person at the studio 6:00 – 8:00pm
Beginning June 11th: Please call for an appointment or
register online, via fax or regular mail

New Families:
June 15th: Register in person at the studio 9:00am
1:00pm and 5:00 8:00pm
June 15th: Register online anytime after 9:00am or via regular mail
Beginning June 16th: Please call for an appointment or register online, via fax or regular mail

Classes begin the week of September 8th
Download 20152016 class schedule by clicking here
Download 20152016 enrollment form by clicking here

View performance and behind the scenes photos and videos by clicking here

Please feel free to call the studio (203.226.9987) or contact us via email with any questions.

 

Westport’s Academy of Dance’s student choreographer talks about her experience and inspiration for the creation of her piece. Come see it performed in the Diamond recital May 31st at 2pm!

NameOlivia DiMarco

Age: 17

Is this your first time choreographing a piece for the stage?

In a way this is my first time on a stage. I have done little pieces for younger kids in camp and I have also done liturgical dances at church.

What was your inspiration for this piece?

I heard a fun song called masterpiece on the radio. So I went home to listen to it again and after it played another song called masterpiece came on. It had a different beat and with the changing tempos I came up with the idea to have two different styles of dance at the same time.

Have you been influenced by any choreographers in your life or during this process? 

I didn’t know much about hip hop going into this process so I took a lot of inspiration from watching hip hop videos online. I also was inspired when looking for duet tricks. But of course everything I choreographed I had learned to do myself at some point in my life so really the inspiration came from all the dances I’ve done in my life.

 What have you learned from your experience? 

I have learned how hard it is to choreograph. I have also learned what it is like to work with girls my age and how things in my head may not always work out how I Would like them to. 

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alice 2015

04.28.15

Spring is here and so is Westport’s Academy of Dance 2nd annual production of Alice.  Original choreography by Courtney Polous, Alice - a fun and funky new take on the children’s classic Alice in Wonderland.  The program highlights jazz, tap and modern styles of dance. All performances will be held at Bedford Middle School this Sunday May 3rd at 1:00pm and 5:00pm.  Follow the behind the scenes on our Instagram and Facebook page. Click here to see a special video:

http://animoto.com/play/FsUFnihXMKI5bEPifqOWTg

Alice Collage

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Join us for a journey into The Land Of Sweets and on a grand adventure.

Westport’s Academy of Dance will perform the Nutcracker this weekend at

Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut. 

Tickets can be purchased at the door. 

Please come join Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and several other dancers from our production at the Westport women’s club Nutcracker Tea on Saturday, Nov 29th from 2-4pm.   Mary Ellen Marpe, wife of first selectman of Westport, Jim Marpe, will be doing a live reading of the Nutcracker, followed by appearances by many of the cast members!   Dancers will take pictures, sign autographs, and delight your little one in their dazzling costumes.   Sweet treats, cakes, tea sandwiches, hot chocolate, and tea will be served, and attendance of the event will include automatic entry to win several holiday raffle gifts.  Tickets to this event are $40. All proceeds will go to support the performing arts program at the Waltersville school in Bridgeport, CT.  Please visit http://www.westportwomansclub.org/ for information and to buy tickets.

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Also this year, Westport’s Academy of Dance will be partnering with the longstanding children’s charity Al’s Angels, by holding a holiday Toy Drive at each performance of the show.    Please join us in supporting this wonderful by cause by bringing a new, unwrapped gift with you when attending the performance.   All toys will be wrapped by volunteers at Al’s Angels and distributed to children in need, battling cancer, rare blood diseases, and those in severe financial hardship.   During this magical time of year, please help us to provide children who are less fortunate with a token of love and the holiday spirit!  And please visit http://www.alsangels.org/ to find out more about Al’s Angels and what you can do to help their wonderful efforts.
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jess rinitiMy name is Jess Riniti, I am 18 years old and I have been dancing at the Academy since I was three years old. Dancing has been a very big part of my life for my entire life, and has been there for me consistently throughout my years. While it may not always be easy, it is absolutely the most rewarding feeling to finally be on stage, knowing that you get to show all that you have learned and just allow yourself to be free. The academy is most certainly my home away from home, and I will be very sad leaving it next year, but I will never forget my fourteen years of memories.

Outside of dance, I love being with kids. I am a teacher in the preschool that is within my high school and it is the highlight of my day besides dance. I love seeing the look on children’s faces when they finally understand something for the first time, or master a concept. There is simply no feeling like it in the whole world than knowing that you have improved their life by even that much.

Combining both of my passions, I look forward to being able to student teach at the academy at some point this year. It is very exciting that Senior Company members have this opportunity because you can learn a lot about how to improve yourself through teaching, as I have seen while teaching in the preschool.

I have definitely learned a lot in my time at the academy, and I look forward to learning a lot more throughout the year!

Thinking about where you might want to go for a summer dance experience? We asked a few of our Company members to share their experiences from last summer. See Below.

CPYB (Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet): Carlisle, PA

Attendees: Elizabeth Rhoads and Abby Suppan                      Ages: 14

Did you have to audition for this program?

E: No

A:  Kind of. You had to send in pictures in an echappé and attitude, but they judged your level from that and a placement class on the second day. 

Why did you choose this program?

E: I heard great things about it from my neighbor, Nancy and friends.

A: I chose this program because it was recommended to me and I went with a friend.

What was your favorite experience?

E: My favorite experience was coming back and seeing how much I improved and how much the camp was worth it.

A: I loved living in the dorms and walking to class everyday. I found it relaxing and fun because I had the time to walk and talk with my friends.

My favorite activity out of the town and off the campus was going to Penn’s Cave. It was so much fun and so cool to see the inside of a cavern. 

What kind of dance genres did you do?

E: I participated in ballet, modern, character and also supplemental classes including hip-hop, jazz, tap, modern, Pilates and yoga.

A: We did ballet, pointe, and jazz, but there was partnering offered for the older girls.

Did you learn anything new during your experience?

E: Definitely. Both times I went, I felt so much stronger and confident as a dancer as a whole once I returned. I also learned more dance moves that made others easier.

A: I learned a lot of new steps but I also improved my technique a lot

How long were you away or how long did you participate with this summer program?

E: I was away for 5 weeks but went twice, so 10.

A: 5 weeks (there is also a 2 week intensive in August)

 

Broadway Dance Center Summer Workshop Series, NYC

 Attendee: Lulu Busk                      Age: 14

Did you have to audition for this program?

No but there is limited room in classes so you have to sign up early

 Why did you choose this program?

I wanted to be able to commute in and out of the city, and wanted to get to dance with lots of different instructors. A great part about Broadway Dance Centers location is it’s only about a 10-minute walk from Grand Central Station.

What was your favorite experience?

My favorite experience was just the speed of it all. You are always moving and being asked to try or do something new. I loved having to learn combinations really quickly, and getting the privilege to meet so many new dancers and teachers who are all really helpful and kind.

 What kind of dance genres did you do?

Jazz, hip-hop, lyrical, contemporary all in the workshop, and then I took ballet classes in my free time in some off the great open classes offered at this school.

Did you learn anything new during your experience?

I learned a lot of new styles and tricks at this program. In turning and leaping classes I improved, and I got to attempt some new styles and types of dance like house, vogueing, gliding, and popping. I also learned how to quickly pick up difficult combinations which is a good skill to have for auditions and fast paced classes.

 How long were you away or how long did you participate with this summer program?

I did this program, and took open classes for 4 weeks but there are plenty of short workshops that students can attend.

 

ABT (American Ballet Theatre)

I’m Amanda Kenner and I’m 14. Last year I went to ABT Tuscaloosa Alabama. I chose this because I went the year before and I was familiar with the company. You do have to audition for it, but it’s not all that hard to get in. My favorite experience was the performance at the end, it was a recital of sorts. The intensive is three weeks long, and starts mid June through mid July. We learned ballet, modern, jazz, character, and Pilates even though it’s not exactly dance. We also took nutrition and anatomy classes on the weekends. Overall it was a great program and I really got a lot better. I learned all kinds of new steps, combinations, and dance etiquette.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WAD Teachers

Your dance teachers work REALLY hard. Want to show them you appreciate all that they do for you and for dance…Discount Dance is doing its first annual Dance Teacher Award! Nominate one of your dance teachers today!!!

 

Miss Nancy!   Miss Catalina!   Miss Tollie!   Miss Courtney!   Miss Caitlin!   Mr. Ted!   Mr. David!

Click here to fill out the form!

 

Click below to read more about this amazing way to recognize your dance teacher.

http://blog.discountdance.com/first-annual-dance-teacher-of-the-year-award/

http://www.discountdance.com/teacherAwards.php

Each year we have another graduating senior perform their last Nutcracker with the Academy family. This year we asked that senior to tell us about everything their Nutcracker experience has meant to them over the years.

 

Jess (Clara)

 

Name:  Jess Riniti         Age:  17

How many years have your performed in the Nutcracker?  12 years

What was you favorite part to perform and why?  The year I was Clara when I was a freshman was my favorite because I got to act, I could watch everyone else, and it was relatively stress free. 

What was your favorite year to perform and why?  My favorite year was the year I was a flower, snow, pirouette, and lead chinese. It was a challenge to perform all of them in one year, but I enjoyed bring a new character to life every time I was on stage.

What will you miss most about performing in the Academy Nutcracker?  I love the traditions, the backstage ambiance. I also love that it’s one big story and we’re all working together to tell it. It feels like a team effort even though we all have our individual parts. I will miss that and the family we form because of it. 

Do you have any advice for young dancers interested in performing in the Nutcracker?  Do it! It’s a tradition and it’s the thing I look forward to most in the holiday season. Looking up to the older dancers and then becoming one is so rewarding. And don’t get discouraged! The audience loves every part and every part is a good one. They’re ALL an important part of the story. Every audience member has his or her favorite, you never know who’s out their just waiting for you! And every part is what you make of it!

 

 

 

we're back!

we’re back!

3 of last year’s graduating seniors’ profiles never made it to our blog … they showed up today to say hello over this long holiday weekend and here they are, genevieve parkington, jill rappaport and grace bergonzi.  all three girls (along with danielle frost-whose profile was posted last year) were long time academy dancers and we are sorry to have missed their personal stories.  so we can only go forward from here and wish you all good luck in your college years, genevieve at the new school in new york city, jill at emory university in atlanta and grace at fordham university/alvin ailey dance program in new york city (and danielle at the university of pennsylvania-not pictured here).  feel free to “blog in” with us any time–especially with interesting stories of your younger days at the academy.  we are proud to call all of you academy girls and wish you the best there is in your futures.

Another Westport Academy of Dance season is rapidly approaching! Registration is open for all families. Enroll in person at the studio, online or via regular mail. Read the rest of this entry »

My name is Danielle Frost. I am currently 17 years old and a senior in high school. I have been dancing at the Academy for as long as I can remember. While my favorite class is Jazz, I take and enjoy all the classes the studio has to offer. Aside from the immeasurable amount of hours I spend at the Academy each week, I spend a lot of my time with Staples Players, the theatre organization of Staples High School. I am co-dance captain for the organization and absolutely love performing in all the shows. My experience and training from the Academy has well prepared me for all aspects of my role as dance captain, whether it is choreographing, helping non-dancers learn to dance, or simply being on stage.

Additionally, I participate in the volunteer organization Circle of Friends, which reaches out to families with children on the spectrum. It is a truly incredible organization and I love playing a part in it. I am also a piano player. I have been taking lessons with my grandma, a piano teacher, since I was in first grade, and particularly like playing Broadway music.

I am the oldest of three children in my family. I have a younger brother in seventh grade, and a younger sister, Andrea, in tenth grade, who is also a member of Senior Company. In addition to my sister, the other girls in Senior Company are tremendously important to me. I am excited to be graduating with three of my closest friends!

margot steinberg

Like many of the Academy girls, I started dancing when I was three years old. It was only when I joined the Academy in eighth grade that I realized the sheer joy that could be found in dancing. In the past five years, my interest has spread from just ballet to modern and jazz, and the confidence I’ve gained at the academy even pushed me to pursue hip hop, ballroom, and Latin dance as well.

This year I had the opportunity to choreograph a piece for the Winter Workshop, and I chose to push the boundaries by combining modern dance with elements of hip hop. This wasn’t my first time choreographing, as I have spent the past two summers working at Buck’s Rock Camp as a dance counselor. My work with the young, inexperienced dancers let me expand my interest into more kinds of modern dance and choreography, and I’m now considering minoring in dance when I attend Muhlenberg next year.

sanam

I have been a dancer at Westport’s Academy of Dance since I was three years old.  Since then, my life has revolved around dance, and it is a passion of mine that has shaped who I have become.  My love for dancing only grows each year as the talented teachers at the Academy expose me to different types of dancing and choreography.  I participate in Ballet, Jazz, Tap, and Modern and love each style just as much as the next.  Apart from just being incredibly fun, dancing has always been the medium through which I can escape into a world without any stress or external pressures, and release my emotions through the movements and music.

Apart from dancing, I am also an avid sailor and pianist.  Piano and sailing serve the same purpose as dance does for me – they allow me to enjoy and express myself in yet another way.  I have also immersed myself in the world of philanthropy.  I am very involved with Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, which gives children with terminal illnesses the opportunity to have the classic summer camp experience they would normally not be able to have given their conditions.  I initiated a fundraiser at my school (Hopkins School) to benefit the Camp, and have since raised over $130,000 for the organization.

Next year, I will begin my studies at Yale University.  I will be sailing with Yale’s team, but I will be sure to make the time to dance.  To me, dance is an incredible art and sport, and although it has presented me with injuries that I am still struggling to overcome, I will never be able to let go of it.  As I grow older, and am faced with challenges, I am reassured that I will be able to find solace in my dancing. Regardless of whether it is in a school club or a more serious performance, I will never turn my back on dance or the rush I feel each time I take the stage.  I am so lucky to have dance in my life, and it is a passion of mine that will always remain an innate part of who I am.

Molly CollinsAs my senior year schedule begins to pick up speed, my second year in Senior Company along with it, I am starting to realize what a wonderful experience I have had in dance in the Academy in the past few years. This is my 5th year with the academy and I feel that it has pushed me to a whole new level of dance. Dance has become Read the rest of this entry »

Elena

I’ve been a student at the Academy since age 2. In my first recital, I was a “hopping bunny”, cried during the performance, and had to be taken off the stage.  I told my mom I didn’t want to do ballet anymore, but she persuaded me to give it another try. To my surprise, the following year, not only did I make it through the recital without any tears, but I also participated in my first Nutcracker, and fell in love with dancing.

Now, a junior at Staples High School, and my second year as a senior company dancer, I can still say that I have that same love for dance, and it still brings me just as much excitement. My fellow dancers and I have become very close, and we’ve also developed good relationships with our teachers. The bonds I’ve made at the Academy I know not only helped me with my dancing, but will also continue to help me going forward.

When I’m not dancing, I love to travel and participate in community service organizations. In fact, in a few days I’ll be leaving for Ecuador to dig water lines for a village with no running water or electricity. I’m so excited! In addition to this, I love music, spending time with my friends and family, and going shopping.

With most of my schedule filled with school, tutors, ACT’s, and college visits, I love being able to come to dance to escape for a little while. I look forward to focusing my attention on something other than school, and spending time with people I know will make me smile. The Academy has become a second home, and I look forward to progressing through my last years as a student.

Share Staples High School Sophomore and Academy student Jill Rappaport’s experiences as a dancer in the Academy’s Nutcracker productions.  Read this inklings article for a first hand account of how magical her experience was and is.  Thanks Jill, for sharing your thoughts and your dancing with us for so many years and for sharing them with all of us!

Amy LalimeDance has been a part of my life since I bounced to my first Nutcracker performance at two years old and put my older sisters through incessant viewings of Disney’s Fantasia. I have only been a student at the Academy since the eighth grade, and this is my first year as a senior company dancer, but the teachers, classes, and performance opportunities I’ve come to experience here have helped me grow both as a dancer and an individual.

Outside of dance I am very active in my church’s youth group and other community service organizations, such as Norwalk High’s National Honor Society.  As well as ranking fourth in my class, I participate in my school’s spring musicals, have been recognized in several city-wide art shows, and have been taking vocal lessons since the sixth grade.

Although college applications currently consume most of my life, in my free time I write (poetry and music) and hang out with my friends- there is no stress that can’t be fixed by a good snack and a good laugh! I’m looking forward to finishing out my senior year- both in school and at the Academy- before I head to an out-of-state university next fall, but will never forget that our past is always part of who we will become.

Julia EdelmanDance is my passion and is something that I look forward to every single day.  Ever since I was three years old I have been dancing at Westport’s Academy of Dance – a place that has become my second home.  Throughout my 13 years here, I have learned so much and have made the best of friends.

The Academy has given me so many opportunities to excel as a dancer including many incredible parts in our production of The Nutcracker and a variety of recitals every year.  Also, I was lucky enough to be chosen as a student choreographer in last years’ Winter Workshop.  It was truly an unbelievable experience and is something that could only have been possible at the Academy.

Other than dance, I love hanging out with my friends, writing poetry, and skiing with my family.  Because dance takes up such a big portion of my life, I don’t have much time to do other sports or school activities.  Even when we have the occasional time off from dance I have to spend time doing schoolwork and writing college essays.

Although it’s my senior year and I have a lot to stress over, I am so happy to be graduating with some of my closest friends.  I am so excited for us all to work on our senior dance together.  It will be so exciting to graduate and go to college, but I will always remember my amazing times at the Academy.  It will forever remain as one of my favorite places to be.

julie lunde, senior company dancer, organized a wonderful dance program at the academy this summer in conjunction with SEPTA (special education pta).  she loves dance so much, as do the other students teaching with her this summer, that she is sharing it with children who might not have another opportunity to take dance classes.

the classes are open to special needs boys and girls and our senior company teachers hope that the power of dance and music will help these new dancers feel like the stars they are!  the majority of the dancers are between the ages of 6-8 but we do have two 15 year old girls who will take some classes and work on more advanced steps while helping out the younger dancers as well.

the academy is very proud of our dancers for putting together this very special program.  thank you julie lunde, allison o’toole, elena adams, lacey waterhouse, grace osgood and julia edelman for your time, expertise and willingness to give back to our community.

This is a no-cost program and classes will run once a week until august 10th.  pictured below are julie lunde and allison o’toole getting ready for their first class setting up chairs so that parents can watch class and be part of the magic.

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grace osgood

With recital and finals right around the corner, my schedule could never be busier. I am a junior at Staples High School and have been dancing at the academy since 6th grade. I started dancing a little later than most, but it hasn’t stopped dance from becoming my passion.

Over the years, I have grown as a dancer and as a person due to the incredible training and opportunities provided by the teachers at the academy. I have had unbelievable experiences through performances at recital, and especially the Nutcracker, and was thrilled with the Winter Showcase that took place in March. It is the academy where my best friends, if not sisters, are and a place that I am proud to call my second home. I love everything about dance, from the hours of training in the studio to the minutes on stage where my jaw hurts from smiling too hard.

Aside from dance, I love having fun and being with my friends, family, and boyfriend. My friends, especially from the academy, are a huge part of my life and the relationships we have created will last forever.  As college approaches, my schedule will continue to fill and my life will be loaded with stress. It is definitely a challenge to balance my schedule with schoolwork and countless hours at dance, but everything is worth it because dance makes everything more enjoyable.

I will definitely continue to dance in the future and I hope to minor in dance in college, or at least dance on the side.  After college, I would love to study education and one day become a teacher. Who knows, maybe even a dance teacher!