L'Ecole de Danse - Micheline Castel - Pessac Alouette
I can take a bit of a breath now...school is ending - activities and end of year shows are done! As much as it's beautiful to watch all of these shows and I always feel so proud of my kids - it certainly gets hectic at the end of the year - extra rehearsals, and of course, the event itself! In an earlier post, I spoke about the end of the year traditions for schools here in France, and the show for my daughter's circus school - but another big part of our lives is dance. It's always been a part of our life. In Saratoga Springs, we got use to 2 shows a year - the Nutcracker and another Spring ballet....so it was important to us to find the right dance school.
My oldest daughter who is 11 and a half has danced since she was 2.5 years old. It's always been a part of her life and over the years it's transformed from ballet & tap classes to just ballet. This year she had an opportunity to pick up modern jazz. Due to moving in November, she was unable to get into a ballet class here (Classique as they call it in France). But for my husband and I, it was important to find the right school should she decide to continue again. It was a year of reflection for her - a year to decide did she want to truly continue ballet or not. She was ready to start going on pointe and the rigor increases at that level also - (I like the expression from my childhood - sorting the sheep from the goats.) If she was going to continue it was going to take concentration and commitment. I'm actually glad she got this year to reflect - I think as a child - she tended to continue activities as they were proposed to her and also continue to be with friends that she would see only in dance. I think there was also her notion of not wanting to disappoint us as parents - (Not that we forced her to dance - but we always encouraged her interest) - This encouragement and willingness to arrange was often interpreted as "I should dance" by my daughter.
The long and short of it - was my daughter actually realized that she missed ballet and has decided to restart next year and also continue her modern jazz class which is serving as a more free and creative outlet. At the school we picked - they start modern jazz at 10 years old - and the first year - the class does not perform in the end of the year gala. We were allowed to watch her last class - and it was fun to see her in a different light!
One of the reasons though that we picked this dance school was their quality of dance. The kids have a good time but it's also disciplined and taken seriously. They perform beautiful end of the year galas which they take great pride in - as they choreograph the whole story, make all the costumes themselves and expect a certain level of performance depending on the age. They have a great reputation in the community for not only being a quality dance school but for also being serious and disciplined in nature. The school is run by a family of dancers - a mother who was a professional ballerina and her 2 daughters who also danced all their lives. A friendly school with a lot of pride for young budding dancers.
For my youngest daughter at 4 years old - they have a creative movement class - teaching kids the beginnings of ballet. They have class 45 minutes each week from September to end of June. In addition to their class - beginning in December, they have a once a month Saturday "whole" school practice for the end of year gala of 2 hours. Then as we got to June, we had 2 long dress rehearsals of 3-4 hours each Saturday before the gala. I was pleasantly surprised by my youngest's endurance and growing love for dance. I also have to say I found her class to be a balance of discipline and fun. She always seemed to come out with a smile. My sense is beginning at age 6 - this school gets more focused and serious with their students. We had come from a similar philosophy in Saratoga. I know this works for some families and not for others - I think it all depends on your child and their passion - Is it a love and dedication to dance or just something that they casually enjoy and want to have fun with. This school is more for the passionate at heart.
So last Friday night, we enjoyed their end of year gala - It was beautiful, breathtaking and stunning with costumes and sets. Very creative in nature - blending the classic with modern flair. Act I was dedicated to more modern dancing and was a story created and choreographed by one of the instructors. Act II was the ballet - again a creative story written and choreographed by Micheline Castel and one of her daughters. They blended class ballet music and interwove it into their piece. It was wonderful to see the various levels of dancers doing their part for the show - even my four year old and her group showed up on stage several times doing their "little" parts. We were unable to photo graph the show and I won't receive the professional photographs until Fall - but here's my youngest at very points getting ready....
|Off to practice....first bun in hair!|
|A bit tired coming home from practice.|
So the day arrives....It's on a Friday night - so my daughter had school all day and then dinner and off we went....
|Enjoying a bit to eat - before the performance!|
|The costume! So beautiful|
So I can't wait to see photos and the DVD - we never got to see the costume until she was up on stage...and she was changed before I could take anymore...but we did get to keep it!
So I guess I will now have 2 dancers in my family! Looking forward to a couple months break and returning next year - with one starting on Pointe!! How fun!