Look at life all around; everything is growing, everything is moving forward. Therefore, I recommend keeping in touch with life and with art. ~Agrippina Vaganova
Ashkenazy Classical Ballet (ACB) has a unique approach to training that involves very small class sizes with a strong student commitment to weekly group and private lessons. Much care is taken in the accurate development of ACB students, as our designated levels have a truly significant standard. Direct attention to details in regularly attended classes creates versatile, focused, dedicated students who exhibit excellent awareness of artistry and technique. ACB students work in a warm, friendly atmosphere infused with strict etiquette and high expectations. Our environment is a place where positivity and grace reign supreme as students are sincerely invested in and nurtured.
All classes are taught by Founder and Director Elesia Ashkenazy. Beginning in the Bluebird year of training--see levels below--once per quarter, a visiting master ballet instructor will be invited to teach a class at ACB. These highly accomplished instructors, former professionals at top tier ballet companies (i.e. New York City Ballet), have invaluable experience and perspective to share. ACB would like its students to flourish under this opportunity. We also encourage our Firebirds and Swans to audition for summer intensives, as these sessions provide a unique opportunity for ACB trainees to work intently in developing technique and artistry. Students often make significant progress during summer sessions, and this in turn allows them to improve more quickly during the academic year.
(Black long-sleeve leotard, pink alignment belt, pink slippers.) Introduction to classical ballet and its related etiquette, history and terminology. The focus of this level is placed on the earliest concepts of alignment, posture, épaulement, and--most importantly--falling in love with the serious work of classical dance. Students learn dynamic exercises that build upper and lower back strength, as well as leg and hip strength and flexibility. Absolute-beginner level barre and floor exercises are introduced and repeated throughout the year of study in order to train correct placement and use of muscles, with emphasis on precision. Cygnets learn to respect not only their work in class, but also their instructor and classmates as well. By the final Parent Observation Day, Cygnets can effectively demonstrate elementary exercises for mastering the placement of the body, the legs, the arms, and the head while demonstrating coordination of steps.
Two 75-minute group lessons per week, private lessons available.
Level 2: Bluebirds
(Blue 3/4-sleeve leotard, white alignment belt, pink slippers.) Expansion and refinement of Level 1 curriculum with increasingly strict attention and detail paid to discipline of movements, muscle coordination, timing, musicality, and control. Repetition of former exercises while further stressing the development of strength in the legs, feet, and demi-pointe positions. Port de bras is given specific attention and students begin to more accurately coordinate the body to effectively demonstrate advanced-beginning épaulement. Increasingly challenging combinations and "brain teasers" are introduced and Bluebirds are expected to break down movements into their finest elementary details, as well as to build back up with precision. As with all other levels, there are two Parent Observation Days, and by the end of this year, the Bluebirds are officially little dancers in the making. They're much more confident in their connective steps, adagio and allégro. Artistry is truly beginning to show!
Two 90-minute group lessons per week, and one private.
Level 3: Firebirds (Red 3/4-sleeve leotard, black alignment belt, ribbons sewn on slippers.) Expansion of Level 1 and Level 2 curriculum with the expectation that students can easily understand, process, and perform exercises on command with accuracy. This level also begins working in center on demi-pointe. Concepts of en tournant, tours, and pirouettes begin. Strength, speed, and accuracy are hallmarks of this year. Artistry and flexibility are much more pronounced and Firebirds are well on their way in their early pre-professional careers upon earning their Firebird graduation certificates on the final Parent Observation Day.
Three 90-minute group lessons per week, and one private.
Level 4: Swans
(White 3/4-sleeve leotard, black alignment belt, ribbons sewn on slippers.) The focus is placed on increased strength and stability in various turns sur les demi-pointes -- high on the balls of the feet on half-toe. The defining characteristic of this year is the development of smooth connection of movement throughout the entire body. Older Swans who demonstrate exceptional alignment, strength, and core and ankle stability will have an opportunity to start beginning pointe work at the barre. Younger Swans are encouraged to repeat this year.
Upon earning a Swan certificate, students who would like to pursue a career in classical ballet or dance will be referred to schools that offer excellent pre-professional advanced training, in addition to regular performance opportunities. The conclusion of this year is met with a performance for parents on the final Parent Observation Day; it's a magical day filled with joy, completion, new beginnings, and beautiful emotions.
Four 90-minute group lessons per week, and one private.