For the Register Citizen By Jack Sheedy TORRINGTON —
Typically, Nutmeg Conservatory’s “summer intensive” workshops attract dozens of females and several male dance students. This summer particularly, Nutmeg is where the boys are.
“Normally, in June when the youngest dancers come, we see two or three or four (male students),” said Victoria Mazzarelli, Nutmeg’s artistic director. “This is the first time in our June program (ages 11-14) that we’ve had so many young boys here as well. It seems like there’s a big jump in the amount of younger men, younger boys, coming to ballet, and it also seems that they are hearing about Nutmeg’s program.”
The just-completed two-week June program, for girls and boys, included 17 boys out of a total enrollment of 82 – a welcome and surprising change from previous years, Mazzarelli said.
In addition, the four-week second session, which began July 1, has an enrollment of 21 males and 59 females, she said. This is an older group, ages 14 to 21. The final workshop, from July 29 – Aug. 11, will have a higher percentage of females, she said, but they have all heard about Nutmeg’s training and that they will get the opportunity to study partnering, or pas de deux.
All three intensives focus on classical ballet technique, Pointe, men’s technique, partnering, male and female solo variations, repertoire, modern dance and ballet theory. The current group, for older students looking to become professional dancers, adds yoga to the mix.
The final group in August has a similar curriculum and is focused on students wishing to be in optimum condition for fall training or professional company positions.
“It may be close to being our highest male enrollment,” said Tim Melady, principal ballet master and one of two national audition tour directors. “They often come from smaller schools where there aren’t as many boys in the program.”
The males in the summer programs are from New York, Massachusetts, Delaware, Virginia, Maine, Connecticut, Missouri, Oregon, Wisconsin, Washington and Maryland, he said. Melady personally recruited many of these dancers during an audition tour of 35 major cities in the USA and Canada earlier this year.
“We offer a lot of pas de deux classes, something small schools can’t do because they don’t have enough boys in the classes,” Melady said. “This time, in all three levels, we’re all doing a lot of partnering, and it’s a whole new world for them and it is what Nutmeg has become known for, having graduated so many young men in the last five decades.”
Partnering can be difficult, he said.
“You have to be instructed how to hold onto your partner, offer your hand, look them in the eye, and make them feel as comfortable as possible,” Melady said. “You have to communicate verbally to get what you want, and they have to critique each other to understand how each other’s dancing works in sync with the other.”
Some of the older males will stay for one or both remaining summer sessions, he said, and two of them are resident assistants.
“They know our teaching, so they can reinforce our teaching. They say, ‘Try this trick,’ or ‘Try it this way.’ I love it. You learn a sport the same way. If you’re playing on a team, you have to coordinate and work together, and at the same time you’re trying to be the best,” Melady said.
Mazzarelli said many graduates of the summer intensives have gone on to other training programs or dance companies, including such companies as The Louisville Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Boulder Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Boston Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Atlanta Ballet, MOMIX and many more.
“That’s the whole point, to really help them get to where they want to go,” Melady said. “These kids are deciding early that this is the profession they want to be in.”
Mazzarelli said, “If they want to have a serious career in dance, they have to start young and find a training facility, such as Nutmeg, in which they can really excel.”
She said summer is often the best time for the training. “It’s really a camp, doing what you love all day. It’s pretty cool,” she said.
To showcase what students have learned, the Nutmeg Summer Dance Festival features an eclectic performance of classical and contemporary dance on July 27 at 7 p.m. and July 28 at noon. Performanes will be held in the Warner Theatre’s Nancy Marine Studio Theatre.
For tickets, call the Warner at 860-482-7180 or go to www.warnertheatre.org. Local students wishing to enroll in the upcoming children’s programs may call TSOB at the Nutmeg at 860-482-7375. There is still time to enroll in the July children’s’ programs.View Story