RENSSELAERVILLE — From July 10-14, the Dance Alliance and Conkling Hall in Rensselaerville present the Summer Dance Adventure program. The weeklong program is specially designed to educate and immerse participants of all ages in ballet, modern dance and jazz.
“This year, I wanted to make the program as accessible as possible to everyone, even students who were just experiencing dance for the first time,” said Robin Gifford, dance instructor, Dance Alliance board member, and artistic director of the event.
Each day in the program is divided into specific ages, styles and themes. Gifford described the experience for the young students as being based on creativity. The aim of the program is to connect movement with storytelling, rhythm and music.
“From my perspective as a percussionist, my connection to dance has always stemmed from the fact that it is simply a symbiotic relationship,” said Brian Melick, percussionist and educator. He described the “continual flow of energy” that will move through the program.
The music will be an essential aspect of the program. Melick will accompany Gifford with live music for one of the days in the week. Gifford called it a luxury to have live music in the classroom.
“I will also have the participants learn and play as many different rhythms as time will allow so that we can get them to integrate playing the instruments while they dance with them,” said Melick. “Because Robin wants to have her students experience what it is like to be in the moment in a live musical environment, I feel incredibly blessed to become a tool in the process for Robin to teach her students with.”
“We’re giving students certain tools in their toolbox that they can take to pretty much any dance class and be able to progress in the style that they want,” said Gifford.
Building on the theme of teaching the foundations of music and dance, Gifford had the idea to build this year’s program for adults on the foundations of strength, balance and flexibility.
“Rhythm and dance exist all over the world,” said Melick. “Wherever there is a pulse and drumming, there is dance. The idea of a pulse and the hypnotic cadence of that pulse is the foundation of everything.”
Melick praised the beautiful way that dance and music connect people. Last year’s pilot program had a positive response.
“Our adult program was very popular,” noted Gifford. “We hope that it will be a continuous program.”
Gifford said she was inspired to organize the Summer Dance Adventure program because “there were not a lot of options for students and parents in the area to find dance education, especially in the area surrounding Rensselaerville.”
The program has expanded this year with funding from the Dance Alliance and Stewart’s and includes a collaboration with the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC).
“One of the exciting aspects of this program is that SPAC is donating lawn tickets to the participants for the New York City Ballet this summer,” said Gifford. “It’s key because when you see other dancers, professional dancers, it gives you all kinds of ideas, and it’s a great experience for the young ones.”
The event will be held at Conkling Hall, an accessible, community-oriented venue. For information on how to register for the Summer Dance Adventure, visit www.conklinghall.org/sda.