Tuesday, September 28, 2010

One of the World’s Oldest Dance Styles

Peridance is excited to add Belly Dance with Andrea Beeman to the Fall Schedule!

Most people have heard of belly dance and even have a mental image of a girl scantily clad and enveloped in beads... but what really is belly dance?

The ancient art of belly dance can trace its roots to the dance & music arts which began to develop over 4,000 years ago in North Africa, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and Asia. These diverse areas share a rich tradition of music and dance which were performed to celebrate harvests, weddings, circumcisions and seasonal changes, and to honor special guests and to mark significant civic occasions. There are different theories about how the dance spread from region to region, but many now believe that when the Roma from India migrated west through Afghanistan and Persia, characteristics of their dance mingled with the traditions of the indigenous communities where they eventually settled. Another theory traces the dance's development to religious rituals, which were performed in ancient, matriarchal societies.

The movements of modern Belly Dance draw from North African, Arabic, Persian, Greek, Balkan,Turkish, Roma & Indian folkloric traditions. Some therapeutic and ritualistic qualities of the dance are still practiced today in Morocco, Egypt, Algeria & Tunisia. Belly Dance was first seen in America in 1876, but did not draw public attention until 1893 when it was presented at the Chicago World's Fair, where it caused quite a stir. Fully clothed dancers from Tunisia, Eqypt and Turkey scandalized the Victorian crowds with their exposed ankles, "convolutions" and "suggestive" movements, resulting in a stigma the dance has only now begun to shed.

In the 1920s, in Cairo, Algiers and Beirut, the Cabaret style of Belly Dance began to develop. The Egyptian film industry began to flourish at this time, featuring many dancers in its films. Hollywood exerted a strong influence on the costumes of this time and rhinestones, glass beads and sequins covered bras and hip belts, replacing the figure-hugging baladi dresses that previously covered dancers from head to foot. Thus, Hollywood's fantasy of the Orient played a large role in creating the current Western image of Belly Dance.

Baladi dress (left)

Hollywood inspired costume (right)

Belly Dance has crossed many borders and spawned many hybrid forms over the centuries. For instance, in U.S. Tribal Style, Belly Dance combines with North African Dance, Flamenco, and Classical Indian influences to create a unique style. In any form, Belly Dance remains a dance of self-expression, capable of conveying a range of emotions, and empowering dancers—women and men, young and old--as they experience the joyous exuberance inherent in one of the oldest dance forms in the world.

At Peridance…

Andrea Beeman's Belly Dance classes focus mainly on a classic Arabic technique, which in the last 40 years has been most influenced by the modern Egyptian style. To this strong foundation of Arabic isolations and body movements, Andrea adds Turkish, North African, Roma, Indian & Persian Gulf stylings, as well as some contemporary fusion combinations. Developing musicality & understanding the Middle Eastern rhythms which inspire the movements is an integral part of mastering this diverse and mesmerizing dance art form, so as dancers develop, Andrea also teaches the art of playing finger cymbals or zills.

Belly Dance comes from very old traditions of dance, do people need to wear anything in particular for class?

To better feel and see the movements of the hips, a hip scarf can be worn around the hips in class. A hip scarf can be a simple, triangular fringed shawl or a more elaborate fabric covered with coins, beads or sequins. Belly Dance is best done bare foot, so the dancer can feel the connection between the earth, feet and hips. Comfortable dance workout clothes complete the ensemble.

Why is it important to have a live drummer for class?

The unique rhythms played by the darbukah or dumbek--the goblet shaped drum heard in Middle Eastern music--are the heartbeat of the dance, directing the feeling & tempo of the movements. Having a live drummer in class helps students better understand the rhythms themselves as well as their intrinsic relationship to the movements. During live performances of Middle Eastern dance & music, the rapport between the drummer and dancer is very important; giving students the opportunity to experience this relationship in class helps prepare them for performances with live music. Every student may not aspire to perform, but a live drummer makes the class experience itself more exhilarating.

Andrea, why did you choose Belly Dance?

In 1988, I studied Japanese Butoh dance with Yokio Waguri of Nakajima. He compared my instinctual movement during improvisation to that of Salome, so I decided to try a Belly Dance class to see what he meant. I immediately became fascinated by Belly Dance: the sensuous serpentine movements & the incredible music inspired the self-expression I had been searching for in other dance art forms. Before I knew it, I was taking several Belly Dance classes each week, performing with different companies in New York, & eventually, teaching & sharing my passion for the dance with others. I don't think I chose Belly Dance, I think it chose me.

See Andrea in performance:

Andrea Beeman teaches at Peridance:

Thursday 8:30-9:45 and Sunday 5:30-6:45

For more information on her classes visit our website.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nutcracker Audition!

The Nutcracker
Contemporary Workshop and Performance
Choreographed and Created by Igal Perry


Join world-renowned choreographer Igal Perry as he creates an all-new contemporary Nutcracker experience. This new tradition at Peridance Capezio Center will push the boundaries of the holiday favorite you know and love. Snowflakes and sugarplums and a grand pas de duex will capture your heart as they have since childhood. But that’s not all—glimpses of hip-hop and modern dance through the falling snowflakes and waltzing flowers will delight and excite your senses. Open to students of all ages, this fully costumed, professionally lit extravaganza will be set to excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s original score as well as new music selected by Mr. Perry to enhance this exciting new take on the classic ballet. Debuting in Peridance’s state-of-the-art, in-house Salvatore Capezio Theater, this Nutcracker production will bring dreams to life and be a holiday event to remember! The performance will showcase young dancers from PeriChild’s accelerated Core ballet program and adults who have auditioned for the opportunity to dance in a professional setting.

Audition for Advanced Adult Dancers:

Thursday, September 16th 1:00-2:30pm
at Peridance Capezio Center

We are casting the roles of Party Scene, Snow Flakes, Waltz of the Flowers, and others.

Rehearsals: Monday 1:00-2:30pm starting October 10th
Friday 11:30am-2:30pm starting September 20th

Dress Rehearsal: Sunday, December 12th time TBA

Performances: Saturday, December 18th 8:30pm followed by reception
Sunday, December 19th 2:00pm & 7:30pm

Workshop fees include all rehearsals and performances.
Adults-$200 PCC International Students-$50 + 10 classes

For more information visit our website

Monday, September 13, 2010

Teacher Feature

An Interview with Peridance's Tap Teacher, Tony Mayes

“ If you own a pair of tap shoes, you’re in…”

-Gregory Hines

Tony Mayes teaches tap dance at Peridance . Originally trained as an actor, he began to study tap after moving to New York City and quickly became immersed in the field. He is a man of many talents and has since worked as a technician, an actor, stage manager, writer, teacher, director, tap dancer, and a producer. I wanted to know more about our accomplished tap teacher's inspirations and how he made the switch to tap. Here are his responses. -Kaarin Holmquist

Originally you were studying as an actor; how did you become interested in tap?

I was at Steps on Broadway and I saw Lynn Schwab teaching tap class. While I’d seen tap before, danced a little in shows, I’d never seen rhythm tap like this and I was instantly drawn to it. Before that my focus had always been on acting. I was working as an actor and doing pretty well, but once I started taking tap, I knew that was what I wanted to spend my time on. It sort of took over – ask anyone. Watching a young company perform at Variety Arts downtown (now long gone) was also a big influence, because for the first time I saw people my age doing rhythm tap, which made it more accessible. During that show I leaned over to my date and told her ‘that’s what I’m going to do’. Later that year I started working for the American Tap Dance Foundation and never looked back.

What do you look for in a dancer?

Well, I look at a lot of shows from two sides – performance and production. Of course a dancer has to be able to do the choreography and the style that piece requires; however, I tend to look for a good presence. Technique and quality footwork are of the utmost importance, but without personality you will run the risk of losing the audience’s interest, and then what is the point of performing?

Where does your inspiration come from now?

I draw a lot of inspiration from everything really. Performances such as Tony Waag’s Tap City, the New York City Tap Festival, Tap City on Tour, Sound Check, a Tap Dance Concert Series and Jason Samuels Smith’s A.C.G.I. (among many, many more) have just blown me away! I’ve had the rare opportunity to watch and work with performers from all over the world. I love video clips and archived material – I spend a lot of that time letting those things soak in. I hear rhythm and songs all the time from all over the city. Playgrounds, parks, buses, stairways; I love to listen to rhythms and translate them into tap. One of my favorite moments was walking up 9th Ave in Midtown and hearing what I thought had to be tap dancing coming from a store front – it sounded just like someone swinging! When I looked in, it was a huge mixing bowl, mixing dough for the bakery next door – “ba-doom, ba-doom, ba daddaa, daddaa” – as the dough was moving up and down the mixing forks it changed tone, rhythm and was just out of control. I recorded a clip and my friends still don’t believe that it was a huge industrial mixer….

What is unique about working at Peridance?

Tap is relatively new at Peridance and it is a great place to be building a program from the ground up because there is so much support from Peri. I know and have worked with most all the tap teachers that work there. It’s a great community and the tap dancers are very supportive. The tap program at Peridance is growing and is definitely going to keep growing because we, as teachers, have the ability to create a program for what our students need and want.

What would you say your teaching style is?

That’s a difficult one to answer. What I think makes me ‘me as a teacher’ is that I started dancing tap later in life, after college. Many dancers have danced most of their lives so they do not necessarily remember learning that first step, or better yet, they don’t remember what it ‘felt like’ to learn that first step. I do remember what it is like to go through that process. I teach a lot of mature students and I understand what they are struggling with intellectually, emotionally and physically. For anyone to put himself in a position where they are starting something from the beginning can be daunting. I think it is very important to adapt to the students; I do not have one style of teaching for everyone – whatever works.

To be a tap dancer you have to be a musician as well. Tap is different from other forms of dance in that way. Sometimes you are just the dancer. YET, sometimes you are making your own tunes at the same time. When you wear a pair of tap shoes, EVERY SOUND COUNTS.

I learn as much from my students as I hope they learn from me. In the classroom I tell my students, “if you can walk you can tap dance” (Charles “Honi” Coles said that). I believe it too. I say it often and it puts my students at ease when they hear it. It might take a long time if you are working full time and can only take a class or two a week, but anyone can do it. I have seen people go from never dancing before to having a comprehensive understanding of tap. Watching that transition is great.

What are you working on now?

This fall I will be teaching full time at Peridance and PeriChild. I just had a performance on September 11th with group called “The Secret City” (www.thesecretcity.org) and “The Manhattan Wonderwalk” (www.themanhattanwonderwalk.com) I’m also working with Jason Samuels-Smith at Fall for Dance at City Center on October 6th and 7th. Ben Nathan (another adult tap teacher at Peri) and I are collaborating on some new work. I have a couple of films that I’m working on this year, but those are pretty long- term projects.

Watch the video of Tony's class!

Tony teaches at Peridance: Monday 6:00-7:00pm (Intro), 7:00-8:15 (Beginner), and 8:15-9:30 (Advanced Beginner) and Tuesday 7:00-8:15pm (Slow Intermediate)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Horton Technique with Milton Myers

After a Busy Summer Milton Myers Returns to Teach at Peridance!

Horton Technique
Wednesday 2:30-4:00pm

Milton Myers has been away for the summer at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival and setting choreography, but this Wednesday he begins teaching his Horton modern class again.

Take advantage of this rare opportunity to learn from the celebrated teacher, choreographer, and performer. Mr. Myers was a performer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and was a performer, founding member, and artistic director of the Joyce Trisler Danscompany. He has been a teacher, choreographer, and Artist-In-Residence at many of the world's most celebrated companies, schools, and universities including serving as the head of the modern dance department at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival for the past twenty four years. He has been asked to choreograph for many renowned companies which has earned him extensive recognition and funding.

Mr. Myers teaches Horton technique, a technique developed by Lester Horton in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. The movement is based on Native American dances and anatomical studies in combination with other movements. A key element of the technique is that it is meant to correct and improve dancers physical limitations.

For more information on Horton technique check out the overview in Dance Spirt Magazine.

For more information about Milton Myers' classes please visit the Peridance website.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Gaga Workshop with Ohad Naharin!

Gaga Movement Language Creator Ohad Naharin is coming to Peridance!

Come take advantage of this exciting opportunity.

Tuesday, Thursday, September 28th, 30th, 11:30am
Friday, October 1st, 2:30pm

Peridance Students: $20 for single class
Non-Peridance Students: $25 for single class

**Students may use their gaga class-card by adding the $5 difference.

**New Students taking any of Ohad Naharin's Master Classes will be able to purchase their first 5 Class-Card at a reduced rate of $70 (instead of $75)

Space is limited, students are encouraged to pre-register online. Click here to register.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Faculty News

Wondering what some of your favorite Peridance teachers have been doing over the summer months? Whether they were putting on a show, receiving awards, or preparing for an upcoming show they have been busy.


While away in Honolulu, Hawaii this summer Ballet instructor, Greg Zane received a Hawaii Theatre Excellence "Po'okela" Award for directing and choreographing “The Sound of Music” at Diamond Head Theatre.

Rachel List, Peridance ballet teacher was recently appointed Director of the Dance Program at Hofstra University. Congratulations Rachel!


Sekou Williams choreographed a video for Fall Out Boy(Dance Dance/went #1 in the country) and it was chosen for a dance program that the CMT network will be airing sometime in the future and he will receive full screen credit.

Boogie Box was featured on the Dr. Oz Show! Watch the clip on Dr. Oz’s website: http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/boogie-burn-calories Check out Boogie Box classes at Peridance with Katie Schultz.

Check out these upcoming performances for a chance to see our faculty’s work outside the class!

Up-coming Performances:

Contemporary ballet teacher, Brian Carey Chung's company, COLLECTIVE BODY|DANCELAB is having a benefit performance Saturday, September 11 at 7:30pm, studio 4A. The show is to benefit the company's 2nd season which will take place at Baryshnikov Arts Center, November 12 and 13. Tickets for the September 11th show are on sale for $45.

Barre a terre teacher Anabella Lenzu's company, Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama has a new show coming up. "The Grass is Always Greener..." premieres October 14-16th at teh Merce Cunningham Studio. The show is a collaborative dance-theater piece that explores themes of immigration, roots, and memory, eith photographic projections created by Todd Carroll. For more information go to http://www.AnabellaLenzu.com

Shelby Kaufman tap teacher at Peridance will be presenting a work at an upcoming choreography showcase, Band of Gypsies. The Performance will take place Monday, August 30th and Tuesday, August 31st at 8:00pm, St. Luke's Theatre on 46th btwn 8th and 9th. For more information visit www.bandofgypsies.net