Category Archives: Dance

Upcoming Performances for Kids

There are so many exciting live performances geared towards kids this Fall and Winter in St. Louis. Here are a few shows not to miss!

Note: Performances at the Florissant Civic Center are nationally touring productions, feature excellent artists, and are top rate experiences! Don’t be misled by the inexpensive ticket prices.

wunderland2October 2-11, 2015 (Limited ticket availability)
COCA presents
Founders’ Theatre at COCA
524 Trinity Avenue, St. Louis
Tickets $16 to $20
Call 314.725.6555 or purchase online.
Run time: Approximately one hour.

Fall down the rabbit hole with this original dance production, created and choreographed by Anthony “Redd” Williams, that puts a hip-hop spin on Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” Experience the classic upside-down fantasy world through a whole new lens with dazzling costumes and cutting-edge choreography, led by the larger-than-life Mad Hatter and many more lovable, whimsical characters.


caps_for_saleOctober 9-11, 2015
Florissant Civic Center presents
Caps for Sale, the musical
An Adventure Theatre MTC production
James J. Eagan Center
1 James J Eagan Drive, Florissant
Tickets $7
Call 314.921.5678 or purchase online.
Run time: Approximately one hour.

“Caps! Caps for sale! Fifty cents a cap!” The cap peddler wears a huge stack of caps, balanced carefully on top of his head. Brown caps, blue caps, gray caps, and red caps. When no one buys a cap, he takes a nap under a shady tree. But, when he wakes up, the caps are gone! Was it bears, pirates, one thousand thieves, or a band of merry mischievous monkeys? Read more about the production.


October 21-November 1, 2015
The Fabulous Fox presents
Roald Dahl’s
Matilda the Musical
The Fox Theatre
527 North Grand Boulevard, St. Louis
Tickets $25 to $88
Call 314.534.1111 or purchase online.
Run time: Approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.

“Welcome to the deliriously amusing, heartwarming, head-spinning world of MATILDA THE MUSICAL. You won’t want to leave” says Bloomberg News. It’s Time Magazine’s #1 show of the year! Winner of 50 international awards, including four Tony Awards®, MATILDA THE MUSICAL is the story of an extraordinary girl who, armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, dares to take a stand and change her own destiny. Based on the beloved novel by Roald Dahl, MATILDA continues to thrill sold-out audiences of all ages on Broadway and in London’s West End. The Wall Street Journal says, “The makers of MATILDA have done the impossible – triumphantly! It is smart, sweet, zany, and stupendous fun.”


hoot_and_howlOctober 25, 2015 at 3 pm
St. Louis Symphony presents
Hoot & Howl at Powell
Powell Hall
718 North Grand Boulevard
Tickets $8 to $19
Call 314.534.1700 or purchase online.

Celebrate Halloween with a spooktacular concert along with help from special guest, Luna the Bat. Luna will take you on a musical tour of all the wickedly wonderful animals that relish the night. Featuring Night on Bald Mountain from Fantasia and John Williams’ Hedwig’s Theme from the popular Harry Potter films. Presented in partnership with the Saint Louis Zoo.


CAM_Halloween2015October 31, 2015, 10 am to noon
Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM) presents
Family Day Block Party
3750 Washington Boulevard
Recommended for ages 3–12.

Celebrate Halloween in Grand Center! CAM partners with the Pulitzer Arts Foundation and the Sheldon Art Galleries for a special Family Day Block Party. Costumes encouraged.

10:00 to 10:30 am
Kota project (Pulitzer Arts Foundation)
At the Pulitzer, discover the hidden histories of Kota reliquary guardian figures, produced in Central Africa between the 17th and 20th centuries, and play an interactive digital game in the Pulitzer’s exhibition Kota: Digital Excavations in African Art.

10:45 to 11:15 am
STL Improv Anywhere performance (CAM)
At CAM, enjoy face painting and help create a “Haunted Garden” mural made out of cardboard with artist Daniel Raedeke. STL Improv Anywhere will lead a performance, and the New Art in the Neighborhood high school art students will guide special art activities.

11:30 am to noon
Uncle Albert performance (Sheldon Art Galleries)
At the Sheldon Art Galleries, enjoy crafts from 10:00 am to noon and a performance by acoustic group Uncle Albert at 11:30 am.

November 14-15, 2015
COCA presents
Superman 2050
A Theater Unspeakable production
Founders’ Theatre at COCA
524 Trinity Avenue, St. Louis
Tickets $14 to $18
Call 314.725.6555 or purchase online.
Run time: Approximately one hour.

Epic story, pocket-sized proportions—seven actors share one tiny platform (just 3-by-7 feet of space!) and upon it an original Superman tale unfolds. Set in a fictional 2050 Metropolis with a remarkable resemblance to Chicago, this Theater Unspeakable production highlights imaginative, resourceful cast members who use only their bodies and voices to create every prop, scene, sound effect, and character in a battle between Superman and Lex Luthor.


November 22, 27, and 28, 2015
Florissant Civic Center presents
Fly Guy and Other Stories
A Theatreworks USA production
James J. Eagan Center
1 James J Eagan Drive, Florissant
Tickets $5.25
Call 314.921.5678.
Run time: Approximately one hour.

A new musical revue based on favorite children’s books. Book titles subject to change:  Fly Guy Meets Fly Girl by Tedd Arnold, Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin, Fluffy the Classroom Guinea Pig by Kate McMullan, Horace & Morris But Mostly Dolores by James Howe, Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes, Lilly’s Big Day by Kevin Henkes and Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. Read more about the production on Theatreworks USA’s site.


Photo by Rachel Brandt.
Photo by Rachel Brandt

December 19-23, 2015
Imaginary Theatre Company presents
The Elves and the Shoemaker
Heagney Theatre at Nerinx Hall High School
530 East Lockwood Avenue, Webster Groves
Tickets $7
Call 314.968.4925.
Run time: Approximately 50 minutes.

When a kindly shoemaker gives his only remaining pair of shoes to a cold and hungry beggar woman, he finds his good deed rewarded in unexpected ways. The shoemaker is shocked by the appearance of magic elves who turn his simple shoe shop into a great success, thrilling customers with their special creations. Based on the tale by the Brothers Grimm, this beloved, warm-hearted story is perfect for the holiday season, reminding us that where we find kindness, generosity and hope, anything is possible.


Photo: Presentation licensed by Disney Music Publishing and Buena Vista Concerts, a division of ABC Inc. © All rights reserved
Photo: Presentation licensed by Disney Music Publishing and Buena Vista Concerts, a division of ABC Inc. © All rights reserved

January 2-3, 2016 
St. Louis Symphony presents
Ratatouille in Concert
Powell Hall
718 North Grand Boulevard
Tickets $35 to $65
Call 314.534.1700 or purchase online.

Savor the tale of a determined young rat with a cultivated palate who gets an unlikely chance to do what he dreams of most—cook in a French restaurant in Paris. In a hilarious chain of events that turns the City of Lights upside down, he achieves his dream with his good pal Linguini. Bring the whole family to experience the Academy Award-winning film Ratatouille on the big screen while the beloved score by composer Michael Giacchino is performed live by the St. Louis Symphony. Learn more about the production. 


January 15-17, 2016
Florissant Civic Center presents
Charlotte’s Web
A Theatreworks USA production
James J. Eagan Center
1 James J Eagan Drive, Florissant
Tickets $7
Call 314.921.5678.
Run time: Approximately one hour.

Theatreworks’ production of Charlotte’s Web is based on E.B. White’s loving story of the friendship between a pig named Wilbur and a little gray spider named Charlotte. Wilbur has a problem: how to avoid winding up as pork chops! Charlotte, a fine writer and true friend, hits on a plan to fool Farmer Zuckerman–she will create a “miracle.” Spinning the words “Some Pig” in her web, Charlotte weaves a solution which not only makes Wilbur a prize pig, but ensures his place on the farm forever. This treasured tale, featuring mad-cap and endearing farm animals, explores bravery, selfless love, and the true meaning of friendship. Read more about the production on Theatreworks USA’s site.


January 29-30, 2016
Dance St. Louis presents
MOMIX in Alchemia
The Touhill Performing Arts Center
One University Boulevard, St. Louis
Tickets $28 to $55
Call 314.516.4949 or purchase online.

The irrepressible Moses Pendleton presents Alchemia, his new work for the dazzling dancer-illusionists of MOMIX. Just as he led audiences on a surreal journey through the four seasons in Botanica, Pendleton manipulates the four classic elements–earth, air, fire, and water–in Alchemia to produce a show about the art of alchemy, and the alchemy of art. A multimedia spectacle, Alchemia bursts with beauty, daredevil thrills and playful humor. It’s MOMIX at its most magical.


February 12-14, 2016
Florissant Civic Center presents
Seussical the Musical
A Theatreworks USA production
James J. Eagan Center
1 James J Eagan Drive, Florissant
Tickets $7
Call 314.921.5678.
Run time: Approximately one hour.

“Oh, the thinks you can think” when Dr. Seuss’s best-loved stories collide and cavort in an unforgettable musical caper! Adapted from the Broadway version, this adaptation especially for young audiences features thirteen actors and enhanced production values. Seussical is TheatreworksUSA’s biggest show ever.

The Cat in the Hat is the host and emcee (and all-around mischief-maker) in this romp through the Seuss classics. When the sweet, good-natured elephant Horton hears a small cry for help coming from a small speck of dust, he promises to rescue and guard it because “a person’s a person, no matter how small.”

On that small speck of dust lives JoJo, an imaginative young Who. JoJo has astounding “thinks,” in which anything’s possible, but his parents believe this creativity is inappropriate for the son of the Mayor of Who-Ville.

Meanwhile, the one-feathered bird, Miss Gertrude McFuzz, desperately wants Horton to notice her. Maybe, she thinks, she just needs a more impressive tail. At the same time, the amazingly lazy Maysie La Bird connives, cajoles and convinces Horton to sit on her egg while she goes off on a spree.

Will the planet of Who survive? Will Horton pay attention to Gertrude? Will Maysie ever return for her egg? Dr. Seuss’s beloved classic characters find themselves intertwined in an incredible crazy-quilt adventure, in which the power of imagination and the most miraculous “think” ever save the day! Read more about Seussical the Musical.

Photo at top: Joan Marcus for Theatreworks USA, Seussical


Bar Method for Adult Ballet Dancers



Bar Method and other barre based fitness disciplines have become enormously popular among people who want to develop a strong, lean, and flexible body of a ballet dancer. But are you already an adult ballet dancer or just beginning to take ballet classes? Adult ballet can be challenging sometimes in terms of slow progress, the needed time commitment, and the potential for injuries. Adding Bar Method classes to your movement regimen can greatly improve your dancing and enable you to move safely and smartly for many more years.

I casually took jazz and African dance classes in high school and finally discovered ballet classes in college. It wasn’t until graduate school though at the age of 26 that I jumped enthusiastically into ballet classes in Washington, DC. For three years, I took 6 to 9 ballet classes a week at the stellar Maryland Youth Ballet school and inspiring Joy of Motion dance studios. My technique, musicality (I got my undergraduate degree in piano, but not specifically in moving my body through music!), and overall courage and perseverance changed greatly. It was a unique time in my life to have the freedom and time to dedicate to amateur dance. I am so grateful for having the experience. An arts management career, family, and move to Sacramento and St. Louis followed, and now at the age of 40, I am down to 2 to 3 ballet classes a week. Of course, I wish that I could take more, but it is difficult to find great adult ballet classes that work with my schedule (we’re no longer in a large city) and at a reasonable cost. Almost two years ago, I started taking Bar Method classes in St. Louis 3 to 4 times a week.

Here are the top 10 ways Bar Method has changed my dancing:

1. Bar Method is efficient. I can’t carve out time in my schedule to take daily 90 minute ballet classes anymore (plus the warming up period and post-class stretching older dancers have to commit to) and 60 minute Bar Method classes help me maintain a fair amount of core, back, and gluteal muscle strength, plus hamstring flexibility. Every second of Bar Method classes is used effectively. When I do make it to ballet classes during the week, I don’t feel like I’m starting over every time because Bar Method classes keep me strong.

2. An important part of the Bar Method syllabus is tucking your pelvis at certain points of class (sometimes holding throughout an exercise and sometimes alternating between releasing and tucking at defined intervals) and bending forward slightly from the waist while lengthening the lower back. This positioning, while a little extreme for ballet (I try not to think of it as “tucking” in ballet but more engaging my abdominal muscles), teaches you how to engage the dropping of the tailbone, the simultaneous upwards and downwards extension of the lower back, and just how far forward your torso (bending from the waist) needs to be to find a dynamic balance in ballet. My incorrect ballet tendencies of letting my weight drop into my heels and turning with my torso tilting slightly backwards have improved with my newly developed Bar Method muscles and mindset.

3. It wasn’t until I took Bar Method classes for about a year that I finally started to feel what it’s like to dance with my upper back. Adult dancers often spend so much of our class time trying to memorize the combinations, figuring out our balance, trying to go to the left, and wondering why our leg seems so incredibly low to the ground in arabesque, among many, many other goals. Dancing with the upper back isn’t necessarily an initial priority for adult ballet dancers. Bar Method technique opens the chest, strengthens the numerous muscles in the upper back, teaches your body how to drop the scapula while engaging other arm muscles, and increases general shoulder muscle stability. This upper back strength and stability has improved my port de bras, enabled my neck to lengthen upwards, has made pirouettes easier and cleaner, made my epaulement more natural and supported, and generally allowed my lower body to feel lighter and quicker in petit allegro.

4.  Related to developing upper back strength, Bar Method classes gave me arm muscles! It’s very easy to focus on the legs and torso in ballet class, but there is a reason professional dancers have such sculpted arms. They have to use them in order to make the rest of their body work in ballet. The arm muscles and stability that I have developed from Bar Method classes have improved my pirouettes, overall line, strength to extend energy through my fingertips, port de bras, epaulement, and my ability to look at and move to where I’m going. In general, my body feels more balanced and efficient with significant arm strength.

5. Bar Method exercises push me both physically and mentally to an uncomfortable place, but never an unsafe one. A big piece of ballet is taking risks in class and in performance. Many adult ballet dancers struggle somewhat with letting go, not over thinking technique, and leaving their heart out there on the dance floor. Bar Method instructors routinely say, “Get comfortable with that uncomfortable feeling,” “Your mind will give up before your body does,” and “Dig deep,” all while carefully monitoring individual students for any unsafe body placement. These mantras, individual corrections, and the enormous and deceptive difficulty of Bar Method exercises have conditioned me to be a little more courageous in ballet. These days in ballet classes, my physical and mental endurance is better, my movement more free, and my mistakes much more grand!


6. For the first time in my life, I can actually feel and engage my transverse abdominis muscle. Granted, I still have a layer of fat over it (thanks to my beautiful daughter), but thanks to Bar Method classes, I can now purposefully use these muscles in ballet. Leg extensions, plies, pirouettes, balances, jumps, and more, all make a bit more sense and are easier with a stronger core. I studied Pilates (mainly reformer, chair, and mat work) for several years, but have found that Bar Method more efficiently develops the deep transverse abdominis muscle at a more economical cost per class (than pilates equipment classes) as well.

7. Bar Method grew out of exercises created by a German ballet dancer, Lotte Berk. She fled the Nazis in the late 1930s and made her way to London where she injured her back dancing. In response to her injuries, Ms. Berk developed a fitness routine which combined ballet conditioning with rehabilitative therapy. She opened up her own studio in London and the popular Lotte Berk Method eventually made its way to America. Burr Leonard studied the Lotte Berk Method in New York for years and gradually opened up several studios in the United States. After a decade, Ms. Leonard developed her own barre based fitness curriculum, working closely with a physical therapist to rework some of the Lotte Berk exercises to make them safer, more effective, and more accessible to a wider population. Bar Method exercises were based on a dancer’s vocabulary and experiences, so it’s no surprise that they are beneficial to adult ballet dancers. Read more about the history of Bar Method. 

8. Bar Method exercises increase flexibility. The active stretching portions of Bar Method classes are fairly brief but effective. The stretches primarily focus on parallel position hamstring flexibility, lengthening the hip flexors, and oblique extensions, among others. So much of ballet class stretching focuses on turned out positions, so it is nice to balance out the body with more parallel alignment stretches. I do extra flexibility exercises after class and at home to supplement.

9.  If you haven’t been seriously dancing since you were 5, most likely developing and sustaining turn out in ballet class is an ongoing challenge. Many of the Bar Method exercises carefully strengthen the inner thighs which help the adult ballet dancer more easily maintain turnout in ballet class and performances. There is a nice mixture of turned out and parallel exercises in Bar Method classes which keeps muscle development well balanced.

10.  Bar Method classes are a safe complementary workout with ballet class. Although incredibly tough at times, Bar Method exercises most likely will not cause an injury or work against your ballet training. I have tried some of the other barre based disciplines in different cities in the U.S. (Pure Barre, Dailey Method, and Barre 3), and find that Bar Method is the safest most rigorously researched regimen. The logical and thoughtful progression from exercise to exercise (much like the series of ballet barre exercises), the duration of each exercise, the options offered depending on how your body is feeling on a particular day, the individual attention to form, the extensive training each instructor completes, the overall friendliness and warmth of Bar Method studios, and the quick results you will see in your body and mind, all come together to create a highly effective fitness discipline.

There are two areas I would recommend adult ballet dancers carefully watch in Bar Method classes: the possible over development of the quadriceps and the under development of the feet and ankle muscles. Bar Method will shape and build the quadriceps intensely and in ballet you do not want to let these muscles take over in any leg movements. You need them of course to a certain extent in ballet, but the inner thigh muscles and transverse abdominis should be a greater priority of engagement when moving the legs. Also, there is not a great deal of time in Bar Method class dedicated to the strengthening of the feet and ankles, at least not the kind of superhero type foot and ankle strength and endurance that ballet requires. Just be sure to work your feet and ankles enough in ballet classes and at home, because your newly developed sculpted Bar Method leg, torso, and arm muscles will need an extra strong base of support for dancing.

Ready to improve your ballet dancing? Bar Method in St. Louis offers an excellent and welcoming group of teachers and beautiful studios in the neighborhoods of Town & Country and Brentwood. Bar Method St. Louis offers 70 classes a week from the early morning to the early evening hours. Owner and instructor Jessica Prasse is truly an inspiration and has attracted a large group of dedicated and enthusiastic clients who are happily addicted to Bar Method. People like to celebrate their birthdays at Bar Method St. Louis classes where you might get an extra set of push ups or thigh work as a special treat! Class prices at the St. Louis studios range from approximately $7/class to $20/class depending on the class package you purchase and how often you attend.

There are also Bar Method studios across the country and in Canada. Class prices range from less than $10 a class to approximately $37 a class depending on where you are in the country, what class package you purchase, and how often you take class.

Bar Method FAQ
Bar Method Online Videos
Overview of Bar Method exercises

Happy dancing and Bar Method-ing for many more years!

Photos: Bar Method Headquarters. Featuring Bar Method Founder Burr Leonard.

St. Louis Symphony Family Concerts

Do you want to introduce your child, friend, or relative to the world of classical music and the sounds of an orchestra? Are you just interested in learning about classical music from a world class symphony in an informal setting without a big ticket price? The St. Louis Symphony’s Family Concerts Series is for you.

The series kicked off in October with an entertaining performance of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham, brought to life by the Really Inventive Stuff theater group. Be sure to experience the remaining Family Concert Series performances with your family (recommended age for children is 5 to 12, but mature preschoolers may be fine) or on your own. Performances are approximately 45 minutes to one hour long.

Have fun at the “Instrument Petting Zoo” in the Wightman Grand Foyer one hour prior to the concerts. Children can try out instruments from each of the music families. Symphony volunteers will be on hand to help in this very up close and personal musical experience. Kid friendly refreshments and drinks are also available at concessions.


Hip Hop Symphony
Presented in partnership with COCA (Center of Creative Arts)
Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 3 pm
Powell Hall,
718 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63103
Tickets $12 to $17

Learn about music form (e.g. canon, fugue, theme and variations) in this innovative program pairing hip hop choreography by COCA’s Redd Williams with classical favorites performed by the St. Louis Symphony. When the dancers take the stage, you’ll see the visual and physical representation of what you’re hearing.

Magical Movements: The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
DanceWorks Chicago, special guest artists
Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 3 pm
Powell Hall, 718 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63103
Tickets $12 to $17

Benjamin Britten’s classic The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra gets a new spin with the addition of dancers from DanceWorks Chicago. Watch as the orchestra comes together section by section before your eyes. This dynamic partnership makes for a magical experience where the whole is much larger than the sum of its parts. If you’re a fan of dance this is a great performance to see!

The Remarkable Farkle McBride, Based on the book by John Lithgow
Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 3 pm
Powell Hall, 718 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63103
Tickets $12 to $17

Poor Farkle McBride tries every instrument, but not one of them is quite right. Brian Owens narrates the popular children’s book by John Lithgow and illustrations from the book are projected on a screen behind the orchestra. Join Farkle McBride on a journey to find his place in the orchestra and learn about the different instrument families along the way. The first half of this concert features interactive performances by the St. Louis Symphony in which kids can clap and sing along!

Watch a video of John Lithgow narrating the book, The Remarkable Farkle McBride.

Buy your tickets online, call 314.534.1700, or visit the St. Louis Symphony box office in person at 718 N. Grand Blvd, St. Louis.

Photo: St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and COCA

Arts events for families on October 7

What are you doing on Sunday, October 7, 2012? We are so lucky in St. Louis to have many quality, family friendly arts events to choose from this Sunday. Join in the fun and enjoy visual art, dance, jazz, or classical music!

Visual arts open studio at COCA
Sunday, October 7, 2012, 1 to 3 pm
524 Trinity Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63130

Children (3+) explore collage, book art, watercolor, and paper maché under the guidance of COCA’s visual arts instructors. Children under 6 must be accompanied by an adult.

hip hOZ performance at COCA
Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm
524 Trinity Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63130
$16 to $20

COCA presents the world-premiere of this original production that takes audiences on a high energy, hip-hop adventure down the yellow brick road. Created by international hip-hop sensation, and COCA’s own, Redd Williams, hip hOZ features innovative choreography to mash-ups of classic and contemporary music. Tickets are almost sold out as of October 4, 2012.

Get Hip! Jazz St. Louis Youth Concert at Touhill Performing Arts Center
Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 2 pm
One University Boulevard, St. Louis, Missouri 63121
FREE (no tickets needed)

Presented by Jazz St. Louis, Get Hip! is a fun, interactive introduction to jazz that illuminates the art form’s cultural origins, concepts about improvisation and creative self-expression, and explores the role and responsibility of each individual member of the jazz ensemble and how they all must work together. Instrument “petting zoo” and face painting begins at 1 pm in the lobby.

St. Louis Symphony Family Concert: Green Eggs and Ham at Powell Hall
Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 3 pm
718 North Grand Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63103
$12 to $17

This 45 minute interactive performance features a theme of “trying new things,” something everyone needs help with! The first half of the concert includes music by Copland, Reich, and Ives and encourages the audience to join in with clapping, rhythm patterns, and singing. The second half of the concert brings the famous book Green Eggs and Ham to life, with words by Dr. Seuss, music by Rob Kapilow, actor Michael Boudewyns, and soprano Kimberly Schroeder of the Really Inventive Stuff theater group.

Photo: Jazz St. Louis

St. Louis Symphony & Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Being a St. Louis transplant, I am consistently amazed at the cultural and artistic resources we have in the region considering the size of this city. The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is one of those incredible gems. Their Friday evening performance with the contemporary dance company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, was an enthralling experience overall and offered audiences the rare chance to enjoy contemporary dance with live music, something most dance companies cannot afford without co-producers. The connectivity between the orchestra and the dancers (even on a limited rehearsal schedule) was clear and confident.

The performance begins with Mozart’s lively Le nozze di Figaro Overture, a comforting and familiar piece that the symphony played with great enthusiasm. The orchestra did a wonderful job of presenting those naked, glorious, and untainted Mozart lines where there is absolutely no wiggle room for intonation or ensemble issues.

The Hubbard Street Dance Chicago dancers joined the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra for Arcangelo with music by Corelli and Scarlatti. Concertmaster David Halen’s exquisite playing really sang in this work. The choreography by Nacho Duato and the dancers visually brought to life all of the luscious stretching, pushing, pulling, and quick changes between staccato and legato that are written in the score. Countertenor, David Stephens, gave a historically accurate performance, filled with the clean, round sounds, which we heard in the Mozart.

The Brandenburg Concerto left us breathless. I had to restrain myself from dancing in the aisle. After seeing the dancers in the Corelli and Scarlatti pieces, it was a nice opportunity to listen to the orchestra alone playing this famous Baroque work. The symphony’s attacks, dynamics, and textures took on a new feel in the Brandenburg after seeing them visually embodied by the dancers earlier.

The Anna Clyne piece was my favorite. Organic, rather unearthly music is joined by choreography that is subtle, filled with breath, challenging, and unique yet somehow familiar. The shadowed lighting design, white costumes, and poignant playing by the orchestra was memorable. I was amazed by the dancers’ gorgeous use of their feet–their roll down and languid slow walks across the stage were stunning.

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Music Director and Conductor David Robertson, smartly gives us a little humor and playfulness and of course connections to the Baroque music we heard earlier in the concert, by programming Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks concerto. We get to hear the symphony’s stellar woodwind and brass sections in this piece and solid piano playing by Peter Henderson.

The most exhausting and full of more obvious dance “tricks” were found in the visually arresting, “As few as 3000,” with choreography by Alejandro Cerrudo and music by Martinu. There are some moving moments between two dancers undulating their torsos and heads to meet foreheads in this work, bringing us full circle to the curvatures we heard and experienced from the music and choreography in the first half of the program.

In general, it is rather challenging to program a concert featuring contemporary dance and a relatively traditional symphony orchestra in a large hall because typically the audiences of each do not crossover significantly. The cost of the concert tickets will most likely limit the usual contemporary dance audiences from being able to attend this performance, but I think that the event evolved into a fruitful collaboration that may excite current classical music patrons into exploring the realm of contemporary dance a little more.

There is one final performance Sunday, February 19 at 3 pm.

COCA’s Friday morning performances

The Center of Creative Arts (COCA) presents an entertaining and well-priced family theater series each year. In addition to the regular evening and afternoon performances this season, COCA welcomes individuals or groups (preschool classes, book clubs, or school groups) to purchase tickets for their special Friday morning performances.

On Friday, November 18 at 10:30 am, the Dallas Children’s Theater performs Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters. When a great African king desires a wife, only the most perfect maidens in the land are invited to meet him. Combining authentic African drumming, powerful and majestic choreography, and thrilling original music, the splendor of Zimbabwe will burst onto stage in this Caldecott Award winning Cinderella tale. Tickets are $8 per person. The show lasts approximately one hour.

On Friday, December 9 at 10:30 am, COCA’s Ballet Eclectica presents The Little Dancer: Exploring the Color Palette, a story ballet filled with dazzling costumes, a wide range of choreographic styles, and projections of artwork from the St. Louis Art Museum. The Little Dancer is a heartwarming tale of the girl depicted in artist Degas’s statuette who comes to life and dances through beautiful works of art. The production is directed by Amy Scheers with guest choreographers. Tickets are $8 per person. The show lasts approximately one hour.

Call Box Office Specialist Shelley Salinas at 314.725.6555, ext. 124 to reserve your tickets or visit COCA’s front desk (524 Trinity Avenue) in person for this special offer.

While you’re at COCA, check out their classes, workshops, and camps for the whole family. We are lucky to have such a incredible arts facility in St. Louis!

Staying in ballet shape during the “off-season”

It’s that in-between season for serious ballet classes in the St. Louis area. If you’re an adult/teen ballet student looking for drop-in classes, many studios in the area are on break or have changed over to their summer intensives which require enrollment for the entire workshop. Here are a few suggestions to keep your technique strong until your regular ballet classes start up again. The ballet studios I mention here offer drop-in classes. COCA in University City does have some great adult/teen ballet classes right now, but you need to register for the entire summer or be a student or professional dancer to purchase a class punch card.

1. East West Ballet (Crestwood)
Kay Tabisaura-Hahn owns and runs this excellent studio located inside Crestwood Mall. Kay is a certified Royal Academy of Dance teacher and previously performed with Ballet Philippines and Singapore Dance Theatre. On Saturdays she teaches a beginning class from 8:45 to 9:55 am. On Sundays there is an intermediate class from 2:30 to 4 pm. Class cards are $53 for 5 classes or $12 drop in rate. If you’re new to the studio, there is a $5 trial class rate. Kay is also offering an adult ballet workshop on Saturdays from 1 to 3 pm (June 25 through July 30). The workshop includes strengthening floor exercises, a regular ballet class, and a variation. If you’re interested in the workshop, be sure to email to register. East West Ballet has a great noncompetitive environment, beautiful floor, and quality teaching. Your turnout will thank you! There are also spots available in the kids summer camps.

2. Caston Ballet Academie (Webster Groves)
Caston Ballet Academie offers adult/teen intermediate classes from 6 to 7:30 pm, Monday through Thursday, from now until July 21. The classes are taught by Lynette Khoo-Summers, Shannon Caston, or Akari Manabe (they rotate, so contact the studio if you’re interested in a particular teacher’s class). Akari’s classes are particularly comprehensive, well-paced, and full of smart corrections. The only drawback on these classes is that the drop-in rate is $20!

3. Dance Center of Kirkwood (Kirkwood)
This gem of a studio has a dedicated group of adult ballet students and a wonderful teacher and owner, Kathleen Massot. The studio is currently on break but will be open July 5 through August 15. The adult ballet classes are offered on Wednesdays at 9:30 am and Saturdays at 1:15 pm. The drop-in rate is $12 per class. The adult classes are mixed levels, but tend to be geared towards advanced beginners and early intermediate students. These classes are a perfect place to gain some strength, back flexibility, musicality, and a clean tendu.

4. Bikram Yoga
What? That’s not ballet. And why would I want to get heated to 105 degrees inside when it’s hot and muggy already outside? I recently returned to Bikram yoga classes after several years off from it, and am happy at how it is affecting my ballet strength, flexibility, and endurance. The 90 minute sweat fest is not necessarily something I look forward to, but Bikram yoga’s 26 postures definitely work your body thoroughly in parallel (even turned in), your mid and upper back, and your core. There is a tough mental aspect to Bikram yoga as most of the teachers tend to be boot camp-ish in approach. Regularly practicing this type of yoga can build your self-reliance and focus, both great skills for ballet. Bikram yoga studios in St. Louis include Yoga St. Louis and Prana Yoga. Both studios offer a $18 drop-in rate.

Are you an obsessive adult ballet dancer with a crazy work/family schedule in the St. Louis area? How do you get your fix in the summer?

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet

“Fierce, athletic, and compulsively sensual.” – Village Voice

Dance St. Louis presents Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet January 28 and 29 at Touhill Performing Arts Center. This New York based company works with some meaty and brilliant choreographers and beautiful dancers. Led by French-born Artistic Director Benoit-Swan Pouffer, the company will bring St. Louis dance fans some breath-filled, exhilarating, poignant, and stunning movement. We don’t get to see much contemporary ballet in this area, so be sure to experience this performance. I have yet to see Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet live, but from their video excerpts, there is clearly something visceral and Ballet Boyz/William Forsythe going on…

Friday, January 28 at 8 pm  |  Touhill Performing Arts Center
Saturday, January 29 at 2 pm and 8 pm  |  Touhill Performing Arts Center

Tickets $28 to $50

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet Videos

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet on Flickr

New Ballet Studio Opens in Crestwood

Kay Tabisaura, who has been teaching in the Dance Co-Op space inside the Crestwood Mall, has just opened up her own space in the same mall. Her studio, East West Ballet, is located near Sears. A former dancer with Ballet Philippines and Singapore Dance Theatre, Kay is a certified and registered teacher with the Royal Academy of Dance. In addition to her time in St. Louis, she has taught in Toronto and Hamilton (Canada) and in Los Angeles and Orange County.

Her current schedule includes classes for preschoolers up through adults.

I’ve been taking her adult classes for about a year and have really enjoyed the small class sizes, thoughtful technique corrections, musicality, and ability to get her students moving across the floor. I’ve taken adult ballet classes all over the country in more urban areas and greatly appreciate Kay’s dedication to adult dancers and well thought out barre (yes, adults take a little longer to warm up!). She even offers a Sunday afternoon intermediate ballet class–the only one I know of in the St. Louis area. (There is a beginning class at COCA on Sundays, but it is designed for dancers new to ballet, is not available year-round, and requires you to sign up for a whole semester.)

My preschooler has also had fun in Kay’s Music and Movement class–it’s a bit of a Kindermusik/creative movement hybrid class.

The new studio space is on the small side, but the floor is wonderful. It features new Marley on a subflooring that has some nice spring to it. You will feel secure in your turns. There is also ample, free parking in the Crestwood Mall parking lot.

Class prices at East West Ballet are one of the best values in St. Louis County. Adult class cards are $53 for 5 classes ($10.60 per class) or $12 for one drop in class. Tuition for the kids classes start at $40 a month with discounts available when multiple family members enroll. For adult dancers (non-professional) in St. Louis, you can expect to pay $15 to $20 per class at other studios in the region, so again, I reiterate, East West Ballet is an incredible value!

One last note, East West Ballet embodies more serious ballet teaching but without the scariness or formality of some studios. (You know, those studios where the teacher has a stick, rolls his/her eyes at the adult dancers, and the girls have troubling eating concerns.) Kay is very knowledgeable and experienced, but practical, patient, and warm in her teaching approach. Also, East West Ballet is not a competition studio and it is not a “dress up in princess costumes and prance in recitals so we can get your parents’ money studio.” Just straightforward, smart teaching in a clean and serene space.

More information at 314.398.9960 or East West Ballet.