One of the sweetest things to see in Jamaica Plain, is the smiles on the children dancing in BalletRox classes at Spontaneous Celebrations.
Wanting to know more about BalletRox, Jamaica Plain News asked Program Manager Lisa Kelleher about what ballet classes, tap lessons, special events, vacation programming, and more.
Q: What is your role at BalletRox, and why did you want to get involved with BalletRox?
Kelleher: I am Program Manager, managing both of our studios: In JP, at Spontaneous Celebrations, and in Roxbury at the Vine Street Community Center. In addition, as partner liaison I manage our partnerships with the Boston Public schools, a few private schools and after school programs.
With these programs we are able to fulfill our mission of giving everyone A Chance to Dance. We share the love and joy of dance by bringing dance to children who might not otherwise have been exposed or might not have had the economic wherewithal to afford classes. We offer need based scholarships and provide our students with shoes and dance wear. With the combination of our studio programs and our Boston Public Schools and external partnerships, we are currently offering over 500 students in the Greater Boston area A Chance to Dance, and continue to expand our partnerships.
I wanted to be involved with BalletRox because I have had a lifelong strong commitment to sharing my love and joy of dance and theater with everyone.
Q: How is BalletRox different from other dance companies?
Kelleher: We are all inclusive, culturally diverse, family and community oriented. Classes are more easygoing than other studios to allow children to learn and grow without intimidation. We concentrate on having fun and learning our love of dance while maintaining classes that are technique and creativity based. We also have several free workshops to introduce students to dance, to which the community is invited, free of charge. We also offer our students complimentary tickets to professional dance performances such as Mulan and Alvin Ailey.
Q: What dance styles does BalletRox offer and where are classes offered?
Kelleher: We offer a variety of styles and are always open to adding more disciplines as requested. We currently offer the following: Ballet, Hollywood Dance, Combination Ballet/Tap, Hip Hop, Creative Movement, Soca, Afro Caribbean Fusion, Musical Theater, Jazz, Teen Ballet.
Q: How old do you have to be to take a class?
Kelleher: Our class offerings range in age recommendations from 2.5 years old to adult.
Q: What if someone isn't sure they'd like to stay in a class, can you sign up for one class at a time? Is it per month? Or for longer?
Kelleher: Potential students are invited to take a free trial class. After that, tuition is based monthly, and students can drop out at any time, although we encourage them to stay with us by offering a different style or class that might better suit their interest. Many students dance with us throughout the school year, from September through June.
Q: What are BalletRox's vacation weeks programs like?
Kelleher: We offer dance camps during February and April vacation as well as a few weeks during the summer. This is a brand new addition to our curriculum offerings, and we are very excited to offer them! For February and April vacations, we are running camps Tuesday to Friday, from 9 am to 4 pm, for ages 4 and up. These camps will be a Broadway Boot Camp sort of theme. Students will learn songs and dances from various musicals, learn some scene work, create props and scenery, and at the end of the week, on the last day of camp, we will provide a little showcase for the families to show off our work and what we have learned. Summer camps are still being developed, and will probably be similar in structure. Our summer camps will be in August and the first week of September this year.
Q: Are there performances or shows?
Kelleher: We create and perform in a yearly recital, this year's theme is The Great Musicals. Soon, each class will start learning the choreography that teachers create to bring the show together. Next year, we hope to offer more performance opportunities to our studio students -- I personally would love to bring The Nutcracker to BalletRox.
In our BPS school partnerships for the first time, we are creating Winter Wonderland in Boston, which will be a small showcase highlighting the winter months in Boston. Our partner teachers are creating the dances and are collaborating with the art and classroom teachers to create backdrops and scenery that showcases iconic Boston landmarks like Boston Common, the Public Garden, and the Citgo sign. This was an idea I had to have an all inclusive non-religious based winter showcase for our BPS partner schools.
We held a one day Nutcracker workshop at St. John's School in the North End and the students performed those dances in their Christmas show.
At other partner schools/programs, we are offering a spring show, as well as a year end recital, so the performance opportunities have greatly expanded in the last year and will continue to grow.
Q: BalletRox was created in 1992 by former Boston Ballet dancer Tony Williams, who grew up in Jamaica Plain. Is Williams still involved with BalletRox?
Kelleher: Tony Williams idea of inclusiveness and the spirit of dance still live on at BalletRox, and we are honored to continue his legacy. When I was a young student at Boston Ballet, Tony Williams was a principal dancer. While he is not directly involved, BalletRox remains friendly with him and thank him for starting the school.