The Young Dancers Program at the Conservatory is joyful, healthy, and wholesome and includes Dance for 2’s & 3’s (for 2 and 3-year-old students) and three progressive levels of Pre-ballet (for 4, 5, & 6-year-olds). These classes expose students to the joy of dance through movement games, creative exercises, exploration of dance styles and an introduction to movement vocabulary. Children flourish in a positive atmosphere of self-discovery while learning a curriculum that introduces the basic concepts of ballet, promotes musicality and rhythm, and instructs foundational and fundamental dance techniques.
Ballet Technique classes (for students age 7 and up) are the foundation for training at the Conservatory and focus on developing a solid ballet technique with emphasis on understanding correct body placement, proper use of turn out, coordination of the upper body (epaulement), and use of arms (port de bras). The Conservatory’s unique syllabus exposes students to aspects of traditional French, Vaganova (Russian), Cecchetti (Italian), and American techniques. Class begins with work at the barre to build strength and coordination, followed by center exercises, culminating in a grand allegro combination or variation. Clear explanations of exercises and theory help students use the ballet vocabulary in a simple, practical way that leads to increased technical understanding, healthy physical development, and lifelong enjoyment. Students 11 and older with strong ballet technique, sufficient core and ankle strength, and a teacher’s recommendation go on to study ‘en pointe’. Advanced students of the Ballet Program may audition for the Conservatory’s pre-professional ballet company: Ridgefield Civic Ballet or our Apprentice Ballet Ensemble, geared for slightly younger dancers aspiring to Ridgefield Civic Ballet.
Modern Dance appeals to the creative, artistic soul in everyone because of its expressiveness and freedom of individuality. The Conservatory’s Modern Dance classes (for students 7 and up) introduce students to elements of Graham-based tecnique including fundamental principles of contraction/release, spiral, and shift of weight. The students focus on movement from the inside out, encouraging use of breath, energy, and connection. Class begins with traditional floorwork exercised, progresses into standing work, moves to travelling phrases across the floor, and culminate in movement phrases that explore dynamic possibilities. A strong foundation technique, Graham-based modern prepares students to use breath, opposition, and strength that carries over into other disciplines. Intermediate students (levels IV & V) may audition for the Apprentice Contemporary Ensemble. Advanced students of the Modern Dance Program (Levels V & VI) may audition for the Conservatory’s pre-professional company: Contemporary Dance Ensemble.
Contemporary Dance pushes boundaries fo previously learned techniques and styles and will pull from a more “pedestrian”, human, and creature-like vocabulary. The intention is to break down patterns and habitual movement qualities and find newness and awareness of where the body naturally goes and how it naturally moves. This class will examine an array of styles from Modern-Contemporary to Contemp-Pop with an exploration of musicality, movement style, ynamic shifts, space, time, spinal mobility, movement initiation, physicality, floor work- identifying correct pathways fro moving in and out of the floor with alighment tohelp injury prevention, flying through space, exploratory games, and partnering work. There will be strong association with the breath to keep calmer muscles when learning new and difficult informationand to supplement the muscles when required to move with extreme physicality. There is a place in this class for every curious dancer who is interested in creativity for dnace making and dance understanding.
Jazz is a dance form that appeals to everyone because of its energy, variety, and vitality. Jazz Dance classes (which students can begin at age 7) explore contemporary and classic jazz dance, rooted in the vernacular (social dance) forms, that draws inspiration from a wide range of music including jazz, swing, blues, pop, soul and funk. As the official home of the internationally recognized Jazz Dance Technique & Syllabus by creator/author James Robey, Conservatory jazz classes begin with a warm-up to develop strength, flexibility, correct alignment and coordination, followed by progressions across the floor, and culminates in extended dance combinations. The movement explores a range of styles in both lyrical and percussive disciplines with a focus on jazz elements such as isolations, swing, and rhythm. The goal is to develop dancers who are expressive, dynamic, musical and passionate. Levels IV, V, & VI of the Jazz Dance Program may audition for the Conservatory’s new Jazz Repertory Ensemble.
Tap Dance is a timeless art that combines dance and percussion. Tap dancers in musicals, movies, television, commercials, and concerts inspire us with their infectious rhythms. Tap Dance classes (for students 7 and up) explore the two traditions of rhythm tap (hoofing) and Broadway tap. Class begins with warm up exercises in the center that increase control, coordination, and rhythm, followed by across the floor exercises that teach dynamics, shading, phrasing, and musicality, concluding with extended rhythmic phrases and improvisation exercises. The goal is to develop tap dancers that are equally strong musicians, dancers, and performers.
The Contemporary Dance Ensemble is a pre-professional company, founded in 2001, made up of advanced modern and jazz students at the Conservatory. Admission into the company is by audition only. Past performances include the Jazz Dance World Congress in Chicago, opening for the Parsons Dance Company, DanceFest 2005, 2006, & 2007 at the Rich Forum in Stamford, Dance Invitational 2006 with Battleworks Dance Company at Purchase College, Dance Invitational 2007 with Buglisi Dance Theatre, Not Another Nutcracker at the Ridgefield Playhouse, Connecticut Dance Alliance State Festival at the Bushnell Theater in Hartford, at the Arts Hall in New Haven, and various outreach performances. In 2012, Martha Graham’s 1936 masterwork Steps in the Street was restaged by Amy Piantaggini and Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch. Open to Modern Levels V & VI, by audition only.
Offered to serious dancers in Modern Levels IV & V by audition only who would like to continue their dance training by focusing specifically on modern and contemporary repertory. This group serves as a preparatory repertory group for possible inclusion in the Contemporary Dance Ensemble.
Offered to serious dancers in Jazz Levels IV, V, & VI who would like to continue their dance training by focusing on the historical progression of Jazz.
The Junior Dance Ensemble provides a select group of younger dancers the chance to learn new choreography and develop performance skills as well as learning to give back to the community by participating in events like the Holiday Stroll parade, performing in Charlie Brown’s Tree, fundraising for Sri Ram Orphanage in India, and performing at DanceFest at the Palace Theatre in Stamford, Connecticut. Open to Levels III & IV dancers in any discipline, by audition only.
The Apprentice Ballet Ensemble is for serious dancers in Ballet Levels IV & V who would like to continue their dance training by focusing specifically on classical and contemporary ballet repertory. This group serves as a preparatory repertory group for possible inclusion in Ridgefield Civic Ballet.
Founded in 1978, Ridgefield Civic Ballet is a pre-professional company in residence at the Conservatory. Acceptance is by audition only and open to all dancers, regardless of whether they are Conservatory students. The Ridgefield Civic Ballet performs annually in the Nutcracker at the Ridgefield Playhouse and several outreach performances. Past performances include for the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company in New York City, at DanceSpace in New York City, and at area hospitals and community centers.
The Conservatory’s production of The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition in the Ridgefield community. All ballet students in Pre-Ballet III or an above level may audition. Performed annually at the Ridgefield Playhouse, participants enjoy exquisite choreography, custom designed costumes, and performing for sold out audiences in Ridgefield’s beautiful playhouse theatre.
All students (Pre-Ballet II and up) have the opportunity to perform in the Conservatory’s annual Spring Concert. Each level and discipline presents a piece demonstrating the skills they have acquired throughout the preceding year. This gives students an opportunity to gain valuable on-stage experience in a friendly and highly supportive environment.