Program & Faculty
The dance curriculum is designed to develop strength and flexibility through a pure classical technique. This technique ultimately gives a dancer the greatest freedom and facility to pursue his or her own personal expression and to adapt to the eclectic repertoires found in dance companies today. At each level, a schedule of classes has been created to develop both the physical strength and the technical proficiency that propel a student toward artistic growth. Appropriate performance opportunities further provide the challenge necessary for a young dancer to develop confidence and stage presence.
Students dance six days a week and are placed in the appropriate program of classes according to their level of strength and technical ability. All dance students receive two to three daily ballet classes, which include a ballet technique class of up to two hours’ duration.
Courses in Dance
Pilates has long been a source of cross training for elite dancers and athletes. It has been shown to improve concentration, enhance performance, and diminish injuries. Pilates integrates strength training, flexibility training, breath, and focus. Through Pilates, dancers learn to access the deeper, more intrinsic muscles that strengthen the core, as well as bring into balance both strength and flexibility. Most importantly, Pilates helps to deepen dancers' understanding of alignment and kinesiology, allowing them to fine tune their warm up to their specific muscle and alignment issues, thereby reducing the possibility of injury.
Modern Technique is a studio course in which the physicality and principles of contemporary concert dance are learned and executed. The class focuses on developing structural integrity through core initiation, strengthening, and proper alignment. Dancers learn to master the technical challenges of spatial risk taking through momentum, dynamic shifts of energy, and directional changes. Students learn the workings of a specific dance language and ways in which to approach learning others.
Modern / Contemporary Continuum
Modern / Contemporary Continuum is a studio course that explores more advanced modern and contemporary modalities. The class delves into the realm of performance and research through technique classes, guest artist master classes, and repertory. The master classes introduce our students to the work of artists relevant in the field of dance today. Recent guest artists span the globe to include Isaac Spencer, Amy Shulman, Ariel Freeman, Ryley Watts, Brian Brooks, Zoe Scofield, Tobin DelCoure, Levi Marsman, Claudia Lavista, Omar Carrum, and Emilie Leriche.
Injury Prevention is a somatic course for students who experience downtime from regular technique classes. The one-hour class is physical yet information based. The class aids in strengthening core, accessing and initiating movement from specific muscle groups, while supporting safe recovery. Focus is placed on individual needs and incorporates the use of GYROKINESIS® and Zena Rommett Floor-BarreTM techniques.
Basic Modern Partnering
Basic Modern Partnering is an elective studio course in which the basics of modern dance partnering and contact improvisational principles are explored, with an emphasis on the creative process. Students develop various tools of partnering such as listening skills, spatial interweaving, skin contact, muscle contact, opposition and full lifting. Students learn the qualities of being good partners, which include communication skills, responsibility towards others, all inclusive awareness, focus on tasks, enabling trust, risk taking, timing, and dissolving tendencies of fear.
Choreography is an elective studio course open to juniors and seniors students. The class invites young choreographers to engage in continuous creative acts. On a weekly basis, students delve into a series of tasks that involve generating dance language, planning, problem solving, and developing a movement toolkit. Focus is placed on the craft of composition as well as discovering individual voice. The class culminates in a performance of “New Works” that allows each choreographer to present their original dance in a full production setting.
Men’s Technique is a studio course designed to focus on the physical strength, power, and brilliance of male dancing with particular attention on elevation, pirouettes, and beats.
Technique Class is the foundation of ballet. It is designed and delivered adhering to international standards. There are three levels of technique class at Walnut Hill School for the Arts – all are one and three quarter hours in duration. Students are assigned to a level by audition. Ballet stresses the simultaneous development of strength, limberness, neuromuscular coordination, spatial orientation, musicality, and stylistic clarity. The curriculum takes the students from a basic understanding of the principles of ballet to the technical mastery needed for full artistic expression, through their development in barre work and progression on to center work. Their advance in technical expertise allows them to develop an understanding of and feeling for complex movement, timing and line in their dancing.
Pas De Deux
The Pas De Deux curriculum is designed to help dancers learn the skill of partnering. Usage of the hands for men, finding core support, balance, and the use of weight for coordinated movement quality are addressed. Proper lifting technique is also addressed, with the goal of safe, injury free interaction. Students acquire partnering technique with the ability to work cohesively for maximum artistic and technical results.
Filmmaking for Dancers: A lab for dancers working with film
Dancers transfer their unique training, skills, and worldview as a physical performer to the medium of film in this exciting interdisciplinary course sponsored by the Dance Department. Through demonstrations and in-class assignments, students learn basic camerawork, lighting, and software editing skills. Students also watch and discuss inspiring examples of works sitting at the edge of dance and media. Each student completes a final project consisting of a filmic self-portrait that creatively shares their personal history with dance. This final project is shared in the annual student works festival, “New Works,” and supports each artist's personal portfolio.
TRX Suspension Training
TRX Suspension Training is the next big evolution in functional training. The lines between flexibility, strength, stability, coordination, power, and cardio blend together in a unique and wholly functional format. Suspension training differs from traditional strength training because it utilizes a three dimensional way of working. Functional training principles can be tailored to achieve a specific result such as developing better alignment, executing higher jumps, or general fitness goals which are improved balance, core strength, cardiovascular endurance, and muscular connections. This form of cross training builds a more balanced dancer and aids in injury prevention.
Ballet Pedagogy is an elective wherein the student begins to study the art of becoming ballet teachers. The student learns applied skills of age appropriate progression of classical ballet technique, class construction and teaching strategies.
Pointe 2is an intermediate class for ladies to execute previously learned ballet techniques on pointe. The student must develop appropriate strength and the mastery of such technical skills before advancing. Each class includes barre work and center practice.
Pointe 3 / Variations
Pointe 3 / Variations is an advanced class for ladies to execute previously learned ballet techniques on pointe. This class will broaden their skills and techniques by learning excerpts from classical ballets and repertoires. This experience enhances their journey from student to artist.
Jazz Class at Walnut Hill is rooted in the classic styles of Jack Cole, Gus Giordano, and Luigi. The class consists of a warm-up/technique segment, progressions across the floor, and a choreographed dance combination. The warm-up and technique segment consists of a study of isolations, spiraled épaulement, and other standard jazz lines, as well as core strength and flexibility exercises. The progressions across the floor portion of class includes footwork, rhythm and coordination exercises, and leaps and turns - especially those needed for the week’s choreography segment. The choreography part of class explores historic dance styles of various time periods as well as classic, lyrical, latin, and contemporary styles of jazz.
Special Topics are courses or lecture series that allow exploration of important areas of concern and interest to dancers.
- Dance History
- Health and Nutrition
- Therapeutic Exercise
Dance Workshops are taught by guest master teachers and are held for several weeks throughout the year to educate dancers in various dance forms such as:
Open Division Dance
Weekly ballet classes are offered in the Open Division of our Community Dance Academy to anyone who is not a dance major. Classes are held on Saturday mornings in 10-week sessions each semester.