San Diego Ballet is offering open community classes to allow children to learn, perform, and above all have fun!
In the center of City Heights is a hidden gem. Obscured behind the Weingart Library, looking like nothing more than just another building, is a fully-functional performance annex. Every Saturday morning, this is where the San Diego Ballet invites children and teens to learn the art of dance. In classes open to six-year-olds and up, young dancers are exposed to classical ballet and theatrical jazz by a professional ballerina. In addition to performing with the San Diego Ballet, I have the privilege of teaching and coordinating the outreach for SDB at the City Heights Library.
On Saturday mornings, the area surrounding the library bustles with foot traffic. A farmers’ market inhabits the parking lot across the street and the shopping development adjacent fills with families just waking up to the weekend. Within the Annex, however, the children stand at barres—quiet, attentive, and ready to learn. Parents are always welcome to observe, giving each class an appreciative audience.
This past year, there has been a growing emphasis on performance. The spring recital was a huge success, with friends and families gathered to support the young dancers as they showcased what they learned during the year. After the recital, Artistic Director Javier Velasco took the stage to host a special appearance by SDB company dancers. For professionals and students alike, there is something special about the process that leads up to a performance. Rehearsing refines skills, builds confidence and generates anticipation. Ultimately the act of presentation is one of generosity and sharing. I want these children to feel the joy of giving a performance.
San Diego Ballet’s goal through our Education and Outreach initiative is to reach as many children as possible, providing them access to the art of dance and creating a space of community within the heart of City Heights. That access to dance and community can make a big difference for individuals. At the conclusion of the summer program, a student from the Ballet 2 class was awarded a scholarship to train at the San Diego School of Ballet. She will be making the transition from one class a week to four and be amongst the students selected to perform alongside SDB in the Nutcracker.
While providing quality dance education to the youth of City Heights, the program emphasizes physical and cognitive development. Dance is beneficial in so many ways: physical coordination, memorization, attention to detail, discipline and creativity, to name just a few. Dance is not only a form of exercise, it is an art; and while it is a challenge, above all it is fun!
During a recent class the kids learned the steps to a new jazz dance I set to the iconic “Shout” by the Isley Brothers. I gave them a very serious task—I said whoever can do this dance WITHOUT smiling gets an extra sticker… but no one could do it! Everyone finished class with a smile and happy giggles. Dance is fun! Nothing feels better to a teacher than having a student raise their hand and ask to do a combination one more time. A child’s enthusiasm is the best thing a teacher can ask for.
Classes with Zoe at the City Heights Annex are ongoing—and completely free to the public! Visit the SDB Open Ballet Class Facebook Page for more information about joining us on Saturday mornings. To learn how to support SDB’s community outreach endeavors with a tax-deductible contribution, visit the Support Us section of our website.