Attending intensives, camps, and conventions is a summer staple for dancers. It’s been rather divided in the past depending on what style you concentrate in. Most ballerinas will go to a ballet intensive, and most jazz, contemporary, tap, or hip-hop dancers will probably go to a big convention and do workshops in those styles. That’s about to change with the groundbreaking new intensive, Aria, offered exclusively at Dancerpalooza in Long Beach, CA, this summer. Aria is a one-of-a-kind experience for dancers, and with the rising popularity of ballet as of late, it’s bound to be a hit.
Dance Life had the opportunity to interview Director Francisco Gella and ask him about this new venture. Here’s what he had to say:
Is this the first year for Aria?
Yes, this is the first year ever. Last year was Dancerpalooza’s first year, and they saw that there was a need for more ballet opportunities. Gil [Stroming, Executive Director] actually was the one who proposed having more ballet at the convention this year.
How did the actual concept of Aria come about?
I came up with a proposal and put together a curriculum. The program is fitting for both classical and contemporary dancers. I personally have Vaganova training, along with many other styles of contemporary, so for Aria I came up with a hybrid mixture of dance styles. For the stretch program, I looked towards the practice of olympic athletes, and then tweaked it a bit so it was more geared towards dancers – like adding different hip rotations to the movements, for example. With the huge popularity of dance competitions, dancers are athletes now, not just artists. It’s a very exciting time right now for all dance, and especially ballet!
What are some of the challenges you had to overcome to get Aria off the ground?
Well, Gil doesn’t mess around! We needed to figure out how to make this the real deal. We are bringing in sprung floors, barres, mirrors, and a phenomenal faculty. There are some really big names coming in. (Check the Aria web site for an updated list!)
What is the main reason that dancers attending Dancerpalooza should sign up for Aria?
The competition community needs ballet, and vice versa. Ballet is gaining popularity (a lot of it thanks to Misty Copeland) lately but we need more. There has never been a program like this done in a commercial setting – ever.
What can they expect?
They can expect 6-7 hours of class per day, taught by an amazing faculty. It will be a very well-rounded experience, and an opportunity for them to really immerse themselves in their practice, while also understanding how ballet is going to apply to their other styles of dance.
Will you be attending Dancerpalooza this year? Leave a comment!