WashingTina Takes Class at The Washington School of Ballet

Tuesday night I took the train to Bethesda and instead of making my way to Joy of Motion, I walked further south for a get together at BD’s Mongolian Grill. Local blogger WashingTina was in attendance and had a funny story to share about taking a beginner class at The Washington School of Ballet. Check out an excerpt of her story below and click here for the full story. Have you taken class at The Washington School of Ballet? What was your experience?

Excerpt of WashingTina: Pointe of Contention

The Washington School of BalletThe instructor came in and greeted everyone in the class by name. Everyone but me. Clearly I had found my way into a class of not-so-beginning beginners. “Let’s pick up where we left off last week, with blah, blah, blah something French,” the instructor said. And with that we all spread out across the studio floor to get our ballet on. I stood as close to the back as I could, trying to blend in as we went through the five positions (hey! I remembered something!). Then it was time for barre work, which was great. I found my space at the barre and we went through more of the motions. The woman standing next to me even told me that I had great turn-out (she was wearing a near-tutu, so I was pretty sure she was an expert). About 20 minutes later, it was time for the hell I had forgotten. The part of the class where everyone runs across the room doing various ballet things (that’s the technical French term for it, I’m sure) while everyone else watches.

I hung back and watched the others do their graceful moves, studying their feet so I’d be ready to join in eventually. Then there was nobody left in my corner of the room and the teacher finally noticed me. “Are you new? I’m so sorry! I didn’t know we had a new student today! What’s your name?” Grrrreat . . . now the whole class of beautifully appointed dancers was starting at me. I wanted to hang myself from the barre. After I told my name, the instructor insisted that he and I do the moves across the room together. While everyone watched. I’m pretty sure the shade of red that I turned doesn’t actually occur in nature. And I was so bad, he made me do it three more times back and forth, back and forth, while everyone else stood there, probably wishing I had hung myself from the barre. This kind of awful dancing was cute when you are three, but in your 30s, it’s just tragic. The instructor was patient and easygoing, but the pressure was too much for me. I didn’t care how much I wanted a tutu, I wasn’t going through this kind of humiliation every week.


Helen Hayes Modern at Joy of Motion/Bethesda

source: http://www.joyofmotion.org

I decided to switch it up and take an intermediate/advanced modern dance class at Joy of Motion in Bethesda.  Plus I wanted to make good use of the Tippr deal I bought last week ($25 for $51 worth of classes at any Joy of Motion studio).

If you haven’t been to the Joy of Motion in Bethesda, it may be hard to find.  Take the Red Line to Bethesda and the studio is just a couple blocks south on Wisconsin Avenue NW.  If you take the elevator up to street level, you’re only about a block away.  Joy of Motion is in the Air Rights Building – same building as Cardinal Bank and Ruth’s Chris Steak House.    I recommend entering near Cardinal Bank, which is on a side street off of Wisconsin across from the Marriott Residence Inn.  Once you enter the building, go left to the elevators and take it one level down to LL.
I came straight from a happy hour in Dupont before coming to class so I had to change.  Luckily, there is a small changing area in the ladies’ bathroom.  I wore black leggings and a tank top, which most girls were wearing.  Some wore black tights or booty shorts and leotards.  Most people danced barefoot, but others like myself opted to wear socks.
It was obvious from the start that a lot of the students are regulars of Helen’s class.  She knew the majority of dancers by name and frequently complimented students for a job well done.  She even pointed out individual mistakes so others could benefit from correcting next time around.
Despite being a huge fan of hip hop dance, I actually have a background in ballet.  I studied for about 11 years so an intermediate/advanced modern class seemed fine to sign up for.  I have to admit.  I had a hard time keeping up with the choreography.  Her teaching style for the combinations was show, show and go.  She would ask if people had specific questions before breaking up into groups, but most people were able to pick it up rather quickly.  In some instances, she would ask us to figure out the combination to the opposite side by ourselves.
The class was scheduled to end at 930pm, but one of the students told me that she’ll probably go until 11pm.  I had to meet up with my boyfriend at 11pm so left around 10pm but she was still going strong.  On my way out, I briefly spoke with the girl that works at the front desk.  She said that she tried one of Helen’s beginner classes and even that was challenging.
If you’re just looking to dance around and learn one combination, this isn’t the class for you.  If you’re looking to work hard and improve your overall dancing ability, please give it a try.  It is a great class and you definitely get your money’s worth.

The Deets

  • Helen Hayes
  • Intermediate/Advanced Modern
  • Joy of Motion – Air Rights Building 7315 Wisconsin Avenue NW; Bethesda, MD 20814
  • Wednesdays 8pm-930pm or until Helen feels like it
  • $17 drop ins

BTI Dance Institute Opens in Logan Circle

Long before moving to the District, Alvaro Maldonado resided in war torn El Salvador as a youth.  Free dance classes at the National Ballet School kept him away from the violence and gangs that surrounded him and the lessons he learned in the classroom truly changed his life.  “I wouldn’t be able to be here without dance,” he said.  “Dance transformed my life and I hope to use the power of dance to transform the lives of others.”

Alvaro Maldonado (source: Luis Gomez Photos)

Inspired by his personal experience, Maldonado, who is also a nutrition consultant and co-owner of personal training gym Fit on 17th Street NW, began to implement dance programs in his home country, as well as other troubled areas in Central America.  According to Maldonado, the goal of the program is not to create dancers, but instead to inspire students and provide them the tools needed to succeed in life.   He now brings this transformational outreach program to District schools and youth groups through BTI Dance Institute, which opened its doors on 14th Street NW last weekend.

In addition to its outreach programs, BTI Dance Institute has both an adult and youth dance training program.  To promote its repertoire of classes and to test out the current schedule of its adult dance training program, the studio is offering free classes until Friday, July 23rd.  First time students and experienced dancers alike will have the chance to try a variety of classes before regular rates go into effect this Saturday.  They will also be able to purchase discount cards at reduced rates before the 24th.

The success of the first few weeks of BTI Dance Institute is not only important to keep the studio going, but it is also key to building a solid financial base for its youth dance training program scheduled to start this September.  Maldonado, who serves as the Founder and Artistic Director of BTI Dance Institute, hopes to train the modern dancers of the future through this program.

Students of BTI Dance Institute’s youth dance training program will take dance history and other relevant academic classes, as well as daily technique and modern dance classes.  Graduates of the program will receive a diploma in contemporary dance concert performance and will be prepared to audition for modern dance companies all over the world.

Students interested in the training program and ballet dancers who have been out of practice may be interested in BTI’s Classical Ballet Performance Workshop with Elizabeth Wisenberg of the Stuttgart Ballet.  The two week intensive workshop runs Monday through Friday 10:30am-12:30pm from August 16th until August 27th.  Total cost for the workshop is $190, but students can also pay for drop in classes with Wisenberg.  Dancers who participate in the workshop will take an hour of technique class and an hour of repertory to learn one of the well-known pieces from “Swan Lake.”  The workshop culminates with a small performance of the “Swan Lake” piece for family and friends at the studio.

Maldonado noted that BTI is still working on its studio but hopes to complete everything over the next couple weeks.  Classes will be adjusted and added to meet the needs of the studio and its clientele, but hip hop and flamenco fans will be disappointed to hear that these types of classes will not be included in the roster.  For more information about BTI Dance Institute, visit their site or read Lawrence Luk’s story from Express.  You can also read this story and see more photos on local blog Borderstan.

10/05/10 Update – BTI Dance Institute recently added hip hop classes to their schedule.

1/15/11 Update – As of February 12th, classes will be held at 1643 Connecticut Ave NW.

12/6/11 Update – BTI Dance Institute will be closing as of December 9th, 2011.

Glee Dance at BTI Dance Institute

If you’re a fan of Will Schuester, Sue Sylvester and the rest of the cast of Fox’s musical comedy drama ‘Glee,’ then this may be the class for you.  BTI Dance Institute uses the soundtrack of the hit TV show as the music for Glee Dance.

The class started at 1pm and ran til 230pm at the new BTI Dance Institute on 14th St NW.  If you know the Italian restaurant Posto and Studio Theatre, you’ll know where to find BTI.  It’s right between the two.

There were about 11 students in the class with only two guys representing for the males.   There was a range of experience among the students.  This was even the first dance class ever for one of them.

Despite the difference in levels, the instructor included a center barre and basic ballet techniques to the warmup.  He also did some across the floor combinations including jazz walks and pique turns before teaching the combination.

The combo was to the Glee rendition of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Rehab’ which was pretty fast paced, but everyone seemed to keep up.  He even taught two slightly different variations – one for the boys and one for the girls.   Overall, I think everyone seemed to enjoy the class.   And, added bonus, it was FREE!

If you live near Logan Circle, check out BTI Dance Institute.  Classes are free until July 23rd.  After that drop ins are $18 per class.   I’m hopefully writing a post for Borderstan about the new studio so look out for that as well.   Later!

The Deets

  • Alvaro Maldonado
  • Glee Dance
  • BTI Dance Institute – 1515 14th Street NW, #200; Washington, DC 20005
  • Tuesdays 830pm-8pm; Saturday 12n-130pm
  • $18 drop ins
  • 1/15/11 Update – As of February 12th, classes will be held at 1643 Connecticut Ave NW.
  • 12/6/11 Update – BTI Dance Institute will be closing as of December 9th, 2011.
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