‘CityDance Presents: Conservatory Dancers In Concert 2013’ at The Music Center at Strathmore by Jane Coyne

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On Sunday, June 16, 2013, on the main stage at The Music Center at Strathmore, CityDance presented its Conservatory Dancers in their final concert of the 2012-2013 Season. It was a beautiful and inspiring concert, with many exceptional performances.The Conservatory Dancers in Concert program included a wide variety of performance from the contemporary, classical, and fusion repertory, including works choreographed by Conservatory faculty choreographers Robert J. Priore, Christopher K. Morgan, Junichi Fukuda, Vikki Weinberger, and Asanga Domask, classical repertory coached by the Conservatory ballet faculty and ballet mistress Ludmila Morkovina, and also featured dances created by guest artist Ron K. Brown, and the Brazilian choreographers Janice Botelho and Alex Neoral.

CityDance Conservatory dancers participating in a public master class with guest artist Ron K. Brown.
CityDance Conservatory dancers participating in a public master class with guest artist Ron K. Brown.

Among the 120 students dancing in the concert were 22 graduating seniors, many of whom will continue their studies at some of the nation’s top dance programs, including Julliard, SUNY, Purchase, School of the American Ballet, and Point Park, among others. In a dance concert involving 120 students,  it dangerous, difficult, and unfair to single out “star” performances.

Without considering raw talent and in simply considering the age diversity of ensemble and the length of time each student has been in training, physically, emotionally, and technically, there are too many developmental factors in play for comparisons to be made. What is obvious in observing this ensemble as a whole is that under the beautiful and truly exceptional costumes, behind the lights, and supporting the inspired choreography, the dancers have and are learning sound technique. Their facial expressions indicate that they understand the music and the stories they are communicating through their art. Their movement shows that they feel their space, are aware of others who share the stage, and that they appreciate the fact that regardless of the featured or supporting role they play in a given work, they are one part of a more important whole. They are dancers.

While space limitations make it impossible to recognize all of my favorite dancers or moments in this concert, and while I can honestly say that it is also difficult to do so when every single work on the program was exceptionally well presented, there are a few dancers who were consistently exceptional.

My favorite would have to be Dana Pajarillaga. With her flawless technique and energy, stunning beauty, and personality that doesn’t quit, I found myself unable to see anybody else but Dana whenever she took the stage. Matthew McLaughlin was a standout, a focused and accomplished dancer whose emotional engagement in his art was evident at all times. Larisa Nugent’s ballet work was beautifully executed, with wonderfully elegant extensions and grace. Katherine Koegel’s Troubled Waters performance was gorgeous and pure. Alexandra Grayson was outstanding throughout the evening and turned in an exciting performance in Spirit. And then there was Jade Diouf, a little bundle of talent and energy whose every move ignited the stage and delighted the entire house.

From top down and bottom up, CityDance is a world-class example of arts education at its very best … the real thing.  I have known this organization for years, yet every single time I attend one of their performances, or better yet sneak a peek into one of their classes or rehearsals, my pride in this wonderful organization grows. Under the direction of Artistic Director Lorraine Audéoud Spiegler and Executive Director Alexe Nowakowski and their highly accomplished and dedicated faculty and staff, CityDance provides unparalleled training and performance opportunities to thousands of children of all ages, abilities and economic circumstance. In addition to year round InStudio classes and CityDance Conservatory, the organization provides nationally recognized and award winning arts education and youth development outreach programming through its school year CityDance Dream and “Dancing in One Language” Summer Camps programs.

Year after year, CityDance proves why they are in the very top tier in arts education. Their doors are open to all, as is indicated by their student population, which is truly a living mosaic of ethnic and economic diversity. Their teaching is focused on developing the artist and the child. While no school or teacher can determine a student’s destiny, the programs continually produce graduates who are accepted to prestigious schools and conservatories to further their training. Some will enjoy professional performance careers. Some will use their knowledge of and love for the arts as teachers, physical therapists, and arts administrators. Regardless of the paths they choose, all have learned very important lessons about emotional and physical health and fitness, about self discipline, about team work, about communication, about creativity, and about why the arts and culture are an essential aspect of education and life.

Here’s wishing all of the 2013 CityDance graduates a very bright future. Remember to use the lessons you have learned because of the opportunities you have been given. To all of the parents and to the dedicated faculty, staff, and leadership of CityDance who make such wonderful arts opportunities possible for this year’s graduates and all of the students who follow them, you make me proud.
Conservatory Dancer/Graduating student Larisa Nugent. Photo by  Theo Kossenas – Media 4 Artists.
Conservatory Dancer/Graduating student Larisa Nugent. Photo by Theo Kossenas – Media 4 Artists.

CityDance offers year round training and performance opportunities for students of al ages and abilities, including Summer Intensives & Programs 2013. For more information about Summer and Fall registration and opportunities, check the CityDance website, or use the contact information provided below:

Administrative Office
CityDance
1111 16th Street NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202.347.3909
Fax: 202.833.2686
Email: info@citydance.net

CityDance Center at Strathmore

5301 Tuckerman Lane
North Bethesda, Maryland 20852
Phone: 301.581.5204
Fax: 301.581.5202
General Email: citydance@strathmore.org
Programming & Partnerships Email: lorraine@citydance.net 

CityDance Center at DC Dance Collective
4908 Wisconsin Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20016
Phone: 202.293.1165

Community Programs:
Kelli Quinn
Director of Community Programs
Email: kelli@citydance.net