Keltie Goes to Italy
L.A. based dancer, Keltie Colleen, goes to a little town in Italy and is inspired by the big love of dance she finds at La Luna Dance Center.
This past October, I was given the opportunity to teach a series of master classes at La Luna Dance Center in Ancona, Italy. The studio offers open classes like Broadway Dance Center in NYC or EDGE Performing Arts Center in L.A., but the vibe is much more laid back. While master classes at EDGE sometimes feel like an audition—with the best dancers being pulled to the front and sometimes even offered jobs on the spot—at La Luna there is virtually no hope of landing a professional gig. The students attend my classes 25 at a time with wide eyes, and determination, simply because they love to dance and it enriches their lives.
La Luna is a giant dance center is shaped like an octagon. In between classes, open studios are filled with small groups of dancers trying new techniques or practicing combinations. At any given time classes in Bollywood or ballet could be in session or a group of b-boys could be spinning on their heads. It’s truly a dance cornucopia. Delicious.
There are nine giant televisions in the Wi-Fi enabled rest area so students who aren’t dancing can watch classes, old dance shows or dance movies. Outside, there’s an open-air courtyard with picnic tables set up for lunchtime and an outdoor studio. Yes, an outdoor studio! And one of the coolest parts about La Luna is that there is a huge cinema room where dancers take dance history classes. In Ancona you have to subscribe to the television, and most people don’t. I met only three students who knew what “So You Think You Can Dance” was! So during my classes, we watched a DVD of music videos and award shows that I had worked on.
One young boy came up to me with wide eyes and said something I couldn’t understand in Italian. I asked Cristiano, the director of La Luna (the only person in Ancona I met who spoke English) for a translation. “He said, ‘She speaks like Hollywood,’” said Cristiano. “He wants you to take him back to Los Angeles with you so he can visit Michael Jackson’s house.” Michael Jackson is an inspiration to all the dancers I met in Ancona. Brilliant!
In Italy, there is a beautiful respect for older generations and the arts. At La Luna the students hugged their parents when they got dropped off for class and asked politely if their parents would “porfavoree” buy them one of my Sugar and Bruno tank tops at the end of class. I never saw even the slightest amount of sassiness, only a great deal of respect for their parents. I felt like the dancers saw my classes as a gift, and never took even one moments we had together for granted.
Inside my classes, the energy was incredible. Not one of my students understood English, and my Italian was limited to “Ancorra” -again, and “dumandi” -questions. But it didn’t matter. Dance is universal. As dancers, we have the ability to make people understand our emotions with our body. I would explain a movement in lyrical class and grab my chest and close my eyes, and that was enough. When the group performed my choreography I knew that they understood exactly what I wanted to see from them—heartbreak, joy, longing. It was mind blowing.
On my final night at La Luna I decided to put on an impromptu “show” for the parents and town. Directly next door to La Luna is a huge theatre where they produce all kinds of dance shows throughout the year. Class by class the students came onstage and showed their parents what we had been working on all week. In the middle, I performed a solo that I had thrown together that morning. I can’t think of a time I loved performing more. The energy I felt can’t be explained.
Every summer La Luna hosts a two-week summer camp, with an international faculty of amazing teachers from all over the world. This summer I will be joining their roster and I can’t wait to go back! After only a week at La Luna I felt reborn as a dancer, as if all the years of rejection, competition and self-doubt melted away. La Luna wrapped its inspiring arms around me, as it does all of its dancers. La Luna taught me that the love of dance and passion should always come first. Rocco, Cristino’s 10 year old son, said it best when he and I were alone in the studio while I was rehearsing my solo, “Bellisimo!”— Keltie Colleen, dancer and Dance Spirit April 2009 cover girl, is a guest blogger for dancespirit.com/
What's more daunting than getting into your dream college dance program? Figuring out how you'll cover the costs of tuition, room and board, incidental expenses and more. Here's the good news: The right scholarship(s) can bring your dream school well within reach.
Look Around, Look Around
Scholarship applications are due between the fall of senior year and graduation time, so familiarize yourself with funding opportunities during the spring of junior year. And there are a lot of opportunities out there, says Kate Walker, chair of dance at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX. "A lot of school guidance counselors now have software that automatically matches you with scholarships," she says.
Seek out scholarships on your own, too. According to Walker, "a lot of corporations are required to have some community engagement, including offering scholarships, so research corporations in your community." Your parents' employers might offer assistance too, says Doug Long, an academic and college counselor at Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, MI. "They might have scholarships you can apply for just because your parent works there."
Other sources of grant money you won't have to pay back (as you would a loan)? The YoungArts Foundation; competitions/conventions, like New York City Dance Alliance; and the university or dance department you're applying to. Even some scholarships aimed at athletes are open to dancers!
A winning scholarship application involves a fair amount of paperwork, especially if the organization requires you to show financial need. In addition, certain scholarships ask for the College Board's CSS/Financial Aid Profile, which gives the awarding organization a more complete picture of your family finances.
Other ingredients of a successful scholarship application include recommendation letters, a dance and/or academic resumé and an essay or statement of purpose. Treat these components just like college applications: Have multiple trusted adults proofread your materials, and ask for recommendation letters or transcripts long before deadlines.
A note for non-dance scholarships: Including objective measures of achievement can only help you. "List national recognitions, like YoungArts or other competitions," says Long. "That shows the scholarship committees that people at high levels have acknowledged you as an artist of quality." And don't forget who your audience is. "Especially in writing samples, make sure you paint a vivid picture for your reader," Walker says. "Don't assume they know about all the things—like barre every day—that we as dancers take for granted."
No award amount is too small to be worth your time and effort. As Walker says, "Don't pooh-pooh a couple hundred dollars in award money, because any scholarship is funding that you didn't have yesterday."
A version of this story appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "All Aboard the Scholar-ship."
Every ballet dancer knows the time, sweat, and occasional tears the art form demands. But many non-dancers are clueless about just how much work a ballet dancer puts into perfecting his or her dancing. So when the mainstream crowd recognizes our crazy work ethic, we'll accept the round of applause any way it comes—even if it comes via four men in tutus. Yep, we're talking about "The Try Guys Try Ballet" video.
Remember that fabulous old-school clip of dancers tapping in pointe shoes that Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo brought to our attention back in March? As we mentioned then, toe-tap dancing was actually super popular back in the 1920s and 30s—which means there are more videos where that one came from. And because #ToeTapTuesday has a nice ring to it, we thought we'd take this opportunity to introduce you to Dick and Edith Barstow, a toe-tapping brother and sister duo from that era who are nothing short of incredible:
Guess who's back? Back again? The Academy's back! Tell a friend.
After one day at The Academy, the All Stars have successfully taken the Top 100 down to 62. But their work is just getting started: Now they need to keep narrowing the field to a Top 10, ultimately deciding who each will partner with during the live shows.
We've said it before and we'll say it again: New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns is some SERIOUS #goals. Her strength and power onstage borders on superhuman. But what's extra magical about Mearns is that she really puts in the fitness and cross-training work outside of the rehearsal studio. And she's overcome her fair share of injuries. Which is why she was the perfect source for Vogue's latest ballet fitness story.