Posts Tagged ‘Dance’

South Coast Dancesport

South Coast Dancesport

Let’s Dance

Leading man Matt Gregory of South Coast DanceSport expertly shows you how to follow in his dancing shoes.

Matt Gregory does put on incredible airs—but they’re the ones that belong on the dance floor. We’re talking about the way his body flies across the space of his Laguna Hills studio with an astonishing capacity for his craft. Tall and thin, his sinewy frame seems made for the rhythm of the ballroom dancing he teaches. Whether it’s the slow-slow-quick-quick steps of the Foxtrot, or the smooth rise-and-fall movements of the Waltz, he glides around with such superb form you can’t help but be captivated.

If you’ve never thought you could move like that, think again. Although Gregory’s level of sophistication is long earned, he’s a gifted and patient instructor who loves nothing more than to help his students realize their abilities—and have a heck of a great time doing it. “I like to refer to our front door as a ‘magic’ door, a place where you can hang your worries and come have fun,” he says. “Nobody leaves without a smile on their face.”

You might have thought about taking ballroom lessons before—we can probably all admit to having been drawn in by popular shows like “Dancing with the Stars” or “So You Think You Can Dance.” Some of Gregory’s guest choreographers even hail from those shows. We wouldn’t be surprised to find one of his students starring on them someday.

Gregory’s clientele is broad ranging, including all age levels and skills sets. Up until now, you may have doubted your own dance floor prowess or you thought you were too old to learn. But this particular instructor encourages everyone—young and old—to give it a whirl. Kids, couples, singles, retirees. You wouldn’t think it, but men seem to enjoy the classes even more than the women sometimes. “It’s challenging to navigate around the floor and be able to move your body in a powerful and new way,” Gregory says. “Women are hard-wired to want to dance, of course. But it’s a proportionate group of students coming through our doors.”

His panache for teaching anyone how to dance might stem from his own unlikely background. He started at the age of 19, late for someone foraying into the world of competitive dance. (Most professionals start while they’re barely able to walk.) “I was on a holiday break from college,” he recalls. “My mom bought me a package of lessons at a local studio. I fell in love with it.” He trained for years after that, entering and winning competitions, eventually making his way to Southern California and ensconcing himself in the realm of dancers and studios here.

“I have empathy for adults who come here to learn, since I was once in their shoes,” Gregory says. “I make sure I provide a safe and comfortable environment for them to learn in. You don’t have to be athletically gifted, or even be part of a couple.” He likes that his students end up feeling confident, beautiful and able to move artistically to the music.

Gregory and his carefully chosen (and extremely well-trained) instructors teach ballroom, Latin and country western dance to a bevy of clients. They offer all types and sizes of packages, with your first session being free. You can even drop in on a class for about the price of a gourmet Starbucks coffee drink. Upcoming nuptials? The South Coast Dance Sport has pre-planned or last minute tutorials that promise to surprise and impress your weddings guests. What couple wouldn’t want to prepare for their special day ahead of time with a glass of champagne, red roses and a choreographed routine by an expert like Gregory?

If the thought of learning to dance is daunting, you can see what it’s all about by attending the studio’s monthly “Practice Party.” It’s a great way to introduce yourself to the studio atmosphere, or show off what you’ve already learned there. The evening event goes for a couple of hours, beginning with wine and cheese, and a half-hour dance lesson by Gregory. Check the site for this and other floor-twirling events.

With such a genuine and energetic approach to his teachings, it’s no wonder his studio perfectly reflects the warmth and accomplishment of Gregory himself. “I love the people I get to work with,” he says. “It’s so rewarding to see them enjoying themselves and successfully learning how to dance.”

South Coast Dancesport
23461 Ridge Route Drive, Laguna Hills
949.945.4200 | www.southcoastdancesport.com

Le Sacre Du Printemps

Le Sacre Du Printemps

The lights come up on the McKinney Theater stage, illuminating a twisted metal tree hung with feathers, bones, and a scarlet red dress. The vibrant abstract backdrop frames two musicians each seated at grand pianos in eerie silhouette. As the haunting first notes of le Sacre du Printemps (Rite of Spring) are played, dancers clad in simple white dresses begin to enter the space. At first their movements are delicate and timid, but as the piece progresses the music becomes more powerful, and the twenty female dancers’ choreography also becomes more aggressive and dynamic. The audience sits on the edge of their seats as the performers dance out the story of a dramatic tribal ritual, ending with the sacrifice of one of the maidens. As the lights come up for the bow and the last notes of music fade away, the release of tension is palpable, and the audience finally takes a breath, breaking into enthusiastic applause for the Saddleback College students.

2013 year marks the one hundred year anniversary of Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, with choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky for the Ballets Russes; this Paris premiere caused one of the largest theater riots in history, revolutionized music, and helped to push ballet into the modern age. In celebration of the centennial of this seminal twentieth-century work of art; Saddleback College showcased Stravinsky’s epic score with two performances of his Music for Four Hands version, played live by college music professors Norman Weston and Kirill Gliadkovsky, accompanied by a premiere of new choreography by dance professor Deidre Cavazzi. “We are thrilled to bring the dance, music and theater arts departments of Saddleback College together for this production, in the spirit of the original 1913 Ballets Russes piece, which merged the visions of artists like Igor Stravinsky, Vaslav Nijinsky, and Nicholas Roerich”, says Cavazzi, “The students are so passionate about this project, and they’ve been really excited to learn more about the history of Rite of Spring in the process of setting this new version of choreography. It’s also such a treat for the dancers to perform with live music and to have student artists creating paintings for the piece.” The Stravinsky score is incredibly complex, with the dancers switching time signatures and concentrating to keep count in ever-changing tempos. The piece is 35 minutes in length, and the dancers remain on stage the entire time, immersing the audience in the journey of the tribe. The beautiful abstract paintings created by professor Karen McNulty’s scenic design students brought the space to life, and audiences mingled after the performances at a silent art auction, bidding on the paintings that had been part of the show.

The performances were preceded by a short presentation about the hundred-year history of Rite of Spring in the fields of both music and dance. Norman Weston played excerpts for the audience, discussing their importance and showing how they redefined music in the modern era. He explained that “the Rite of Spring is perhaps the single most iconic piece of music of the 20th century. In this work, Stravinsky’s approaches to rhythm, harmony, melody and orchestration were all revolutionary. And yet, even though the work is radical on so many levels, and still sounds as if it could have been written yesterday, it managed, after an admittedly rocky premiere, to achieve universal acceptance fairly quickly. That, to me, is one of the most remarkable things about it.” Deidre Cavazzi also shared the infamous and influential story of the premiere, describing how Nijinsky’s choreography was lost for 75 years, inspiring countless artists to create their own versions and also discussing her process working with the students over the past few months.

The extraordinary score, coupled with vibrant new art and Cavazzi’s powerful choreography, captivated audiences in early February, and will hopefully inspire future interdisciplinary productions at the college infused with similar creativity and passion.