Director Julia Dugan, a former professional ballerina, has been teaching dance for twenty years and has a Masters in Dance Education (Stanford BA, MA). Julia’s unique background of professional dance and formal education has led to a progressive approach to ballet instruction that emphasizes proper alignment based on anatomical principles. A full curriculum—pre-ballet through advanced ballet classes—is offered for children and adults and encompasses eight graded levels. Students are placed and promoted into the appropriate level based on ability. Each of the instructors at AAB has been carefully selected based on a demonstrated ability to teach and guide students with a sound awareness of good body mechanics.
Ballet for Tots
These classes are designed for students ages 2.5 to 3.5 who are ready for an introduction to dance. Parents participate with their child in a creative, friendly class. Parents help model steps and directions, and play a role in keeping young students engaged. This is a great way for parents and children to explore movement together.
These classes are designed for children 3.5 to 5. Dance training during the formative years prior to Kindergarten, involves exploring natural movement before learning a “foreign” technique such as classical ballet. The focus of the pre-ballet class is to tap into the inherently creative mind of the young child. Most kindergarten ballet schools teach dance steps with a monthly theme like princesses, a particular ballet like Swan Lake, etc. At AAD we tap into something bigger–the child’s physical and creative imagination. Although it is true that young children are great at imitating, they are also great at creating their own movement and love to do so. We give young children a monthly dance concept to explore, create, and discover on their own bodies while still learning dance steps and using their imaginations. For example, if we focus on a monthly dance concept of slow vs. fast movement, children can create and discover a whole genre of dance steps such as gallops, skips, etc. and the different qualities of moving fast vs. slow. This is a translatable skill for sports, and all forms of dance. In this way, they are no longer limited by a just an imitation of the gallop step done like a princess. In the more typical canned approach employed by many kindergarten ballet schools, they will only learn a dance step like gallop like a princess. The gallop step in itself although fun, is not as translatable to all forms of dance, health, and sports as it would be if we can give it other qualities, nor is it as engaging if it is just given one way. The imagination at this young age is wonderful, and we try to tap into that, but we don’t leave them with just a simple princess theme. By discovering, creating, and exploring with a dance concept, the possibilities become limitless and the child becomes fully engaged in choreographing, begins to understand the wide possibilities of how their bodies move, and ultimately become creative, wonderful movers. If you ever watch a child move, you will see that they spend the majority of their time exploring and making up their own movement. They are natural movers and that is what we try to tap into while letting them explore their own movement and dance steps with different qualities. It isn’t enough or as fun to have one free dance song per class, or to even just give them some steps. We want them to enjoy all of what they can discover in their new bodies. This concept is then explored in fun and creative ways using dance games, simple barre exercises, obstacle courses, and simple choreography in the center. Props such as parachutes, beanbags, instruments, and dance wands enhance the child’s experience. Children develop basic concepts used in dance such as an understanding of space or rhythm, as well as, fundamental dance movement like balancing, stretching, jumping, and turning. Lessons often include communal dances where children work in pairs or small groups in order to enhance the child’s sense of cooperative and creative interaction. The emphasis in classes for this age is to foster a love for movement and dance.
This introductory class for boys combines expansive movement, stretching, and basic ballet positions in a fun atmosphere geared toward a young boy’s energy. Movement games are interspersed in the class to work on strengthening areas while encouraging fun and expression. Boys range in age from 6 to 10, and often move on to one of the graded classes. We are proud of this successful program that seems to give boys the freedom to be boys while learning something technical like ballet.
Ballet 1A, 1B, 1C, 2, 3, Intermediate, and Advanced Class
Basic 1A is designed for students in Kindergarten who are able to follow instruction well. Some basic technique is introduced while still promoting creative awareness with some movement games. Basic 1B is designed for students in first grade who are able to handle a little more structure and technique. Basic 1C is designed for second graders who are ready to receive technical corrections. At this point, we start to adhere more to a classical ballet class structure with barre and center, and fewer movement games. Basic 2 is designed for students who are ready to commit to two classes a week and have a basic foundation of ballet fundamentals. Basic 3 is designed for students who are ready to commit to three lessons per week and have some technique and mastery of basic steps. Students typically remain at this level for 2 to 3 years. Intermediate I is designed for students who have very solid ballet fundamentals in terms of technique and placement and are ready to begin pointe work. Intermediate II is designed for students who have basic pointe work abilities who are ready for more classes per week. Intermediate III is designed for students who are more proficient and beginning to move towards a professional track. Advanced students work on artistry, refining technique and preparing to dance at the highest levels of the profession.
Adult Ballet Class
These classes are designed for adult students at the basic to intermediate level. We encourage all ages and levels to participate. Classes are warm and inviting. Adults are allowed to wear dance attire that makes them feel comfortable. It has been a rewarding experience for us to see many adults rejoin the dance world by taking classes at AAB. We have adults students who range in age from twenty to seventy. Come on in! Private lessons are also an option for students who feel like they need to brush up on technique before they come in.