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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
Arts and Education
Flamenco
Modern/Contemporary
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Skidmore College
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Ballet Hispanico Residency at Skidmore College - Pedro Ruiz Master Class, a flamenco class, a jazz class and a report on several rehearsals

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 18, 2003
Skidmore College
815 North Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
518.580.5590

About the Author:

Ballet Hispanico Residency at Skidmore College - Pedro Ruiz Master Class, a flamenco class, a jazz class and a report on several rehearsals

Ballet Hispanico Residency at Skidmore College,
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
(Ballet Hispanico Website)
www.skidmore.edu/summer
518.580.5590
Tina Ramirez, Artistic Director, Ballet Hispanico

Sponsored by
Office of the Dean of Special Programs
Don McCormack, Dean of Special Programs
Sharon Arpey, Director of Community Education
& Summer Conferences


Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

More articles on Ballet Hispanico in residence at Skidmore College

  • Ballet Hispanico Residency at Skidmore College - Introduction - 6/18/2003 - by Roberta E. Zlokower. - Article sponsored by Skidmore College.

  • Ballet Hispanico Residency at Skidmore College - Pedro Ruiz Master Class, a flamenco class, a jazz class and a report on several rehearsals - 6/18/2003 - by Roberta E. Zlokower. - Article sponsored by Skidmore College.

  • Ballet Hispanico Residency at Skidmore College - Interview with Yarden Ronen - 6/18/2003 - by Roberta E. Zlokower. - Article sponsored by Skidmore College.

  • Ballet Hispanico Residency at Skidmore College - Report on an open rehearsal - 6/18/2003 - by Roberta E. Zlokower. - Article sponsored by Skidmore College.

  • By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
    June 17 and June 18, 2003


    June 17, 2003, Pedro Ruiz Master Class:
    Pedro led a large group of students and advanced participants, with Carl Landa on piano and very interesting instruments, including one like a tiny piano, with a mouthpiece, and a large tambourine for the foot. There was a Mid-Eastern feel to the sound of this music, almost Egyptian or Arabian. In fact, Carl sounded like an entire band. There were about 15 participants, with only one male dancer. Pedro began with a very slow piece, which sounded like an exotic version of Satie. Stretching, reaching, head twists, and yoga-like movement enabled the students to relax and warm up. Pedro was extremely supportive and provided the quintessential role model of a Master teacher.

    Pedro described the contraction of the lower torso and the internal muscular strengthening, necessary for his choreography. He warned of the necessity of strong arms to create space to keep the message intact. Pedro and Carl skipped through various moods and motifs, with dynamic turning to Mid-Eastern, and back to New Age. Pedro modeled isolation movement from head to toe, and then isolated the hips. He pushed arms and legs against space. The exotically tinged musical accompaniment was perfectly timed and tempered for Pedro's dance exercises.

    He said, "Have the feeling….somebody is holding you here." He then led tumbling and stretching combos, to the well coordinated, percussive melody of Native American chants from Carl's piano. Pedro moved his dancers to the corner of the room, where they swept in lines of dancers from one side of the dance space to the other. I should mention the vast and well-lit dance spaces at the Skidmore Dance Center, which provided such comfort to all the Summer Dance projects and performances. When students danced to Pedro's arabesques, Carl played the harmonic instrument.

    Pedro repeated the figure several times, from corner to corner, reminding students, "Feel the suspension…take your energy", "Let your legs do all the work…your upper body is flying, floating…". Then, Pedro chose one student to dance solo. I later discovered that he purposely chose those students for solos, who appeared to have the most potential, to observe their skills. The session ended with quiet piano stretches.

    After the class, Pedro gathered the students around him on the floor, and he took questions about dance and about his own dance background and aspirations. Pedro talked about some of the Ballet Hispanico Repertory, such as Guajira, Cecilia (See Ballet Hispanico Review 12/15/02), and the current work. He talked of his childhood in Cuba, ad his work in a factory, with no opportunity to dance. But, he held his dream, and he celebrates Latin culture. He always wanted to choreograph. Pedro told the students, "I see my soul, dancing onstage…all my dreams, all my reality, what I have in my mind."

    Pedro also spoke about the growth of Ballet Hispanico and the high level of the dancers, which allows him to create more difficult works. He told the students about Primeros Pasos, for support to the public schools. He also spoke of upcoming travel and workshops in Lenox, Massachusetts. Pedro was obviously well liked and well respected by this group of potential dancers.


    Students in Pedro's Master Class for Modern Technique



    Pedro Models



    Carl at the Piano



    Students in Pedro's Master Class for Modern Technique



    Pedro Models



    Students in Pedro's Master Class for Modern Technique



    Carl at the Piano



    Carl's Foot



    Carl on Three Instruments




    Students in Pedro's Master Class for Modern Technique



    Pedro Models



    Students in Pedro's Master Class for Modern Technique



    Pedro Talks to the Students



    Pedro and Roberta at The Wine Bar, Downtown Saratoga Springs, NY

    June 18, 2003, Flamenco Class, Level II: Sara Erde, Teacher, and Carl Landa, Percussionist and Palmera (Claps). The students, all in black ruffled, long skirts, stamp on the floor, as Sara counts, "12, 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12…." The students are their own palmeras, clapping their hands over their heads, as if they might have used castanets. The CD being played had the beat of clapping, and the students danced in rhythm and in counter-pointe technique, with heel-toe work, followed by the recorded accompaniment. I saw one student stay to the side, just practicing the clapping rhythms. Students clearly were enraptured by Sara and by their Flamenco experience.

    In my two-day visit, I became familiar with many of the Summer Dance registrants, who were all content, bonded, and happy in their Skidmore summer experience. I also noticed that some of the same students that exhibited extra passion and intensity in one class, e.g., Flamenco, exhibited equal passion and intensity in another, e.g., Jazz, or Modern Dance Master Class. The very talented and personable musician, Carl, who plays piano, percussion, and a variety of other interesting instruments, used a large tambourine and a drum called a "dumbek", which resembles a bongo, as students walked in diagonal lines to the pulsating rhythms.


    Flamenco Students



    Sara Models



    Flamenco Students



    Sara Models



    Flamenco Students



    Carl and a Palmera



    Flamenco Students


    Jun 18, 2003, Jazz Class, Level I: Mary MacLeod, a Broadway performer, who starred in Fosse, led her class in the light, spacious, and breezy rehearsal studio of the Skidmore Dance Center, with top hats and black leotards. She spoke in a nurturing manner about her willingness to lend students tights and other costume props for their upcoming workshop performance. Ms. MacLeod was relaxed and supportive, as the recorded music of Bye Bye Blackbird poured through the studio. The large mirrors enabled students to see themselves in a positive light, as this as such an upbeat, Jazzy experience for all of them. They were all females, but for one male dancer, who received quite a bit of attention. Ms. MacLeod taught concepts of "upstage, stage right", etc. She also introduced the use of "snake hips" and "traveling" across the floor. I was sorry to not be in town for their final performance.


    Skidmore Summer Dance Students in Jazz Class



    Mary MacLeod Models



    Skidmore Summer Dance Students in Jazz Class



    Mary Talks with the Students



    Skidmore Summer Dance Students in Jazz Class


    June 18, 2003, Closed Rehearsal of Nightclub: Gina Bugatti, Rehearsal Director, was efficient and strong, yet positive and focused, as she often proclaimed, "One more time please". This was a technical as well as dance rehearsal, with sound and light checks. For this rehearsal, my friend, Chris Vasquez (See Review of Rattlestick Theater), appeared, coincidentally, for his acting performance in Nightclub, playing the role of Narrator. He was first given some new lines at this closed rehearsal, just a few hours prior to the public, Open Rehearsal, and Ms. Ramirez was quite supportive in assisting him with onstage movement and theatrical expression.

    Flamenco Rehearsal - Sara Erde and Students


    Flamenco Rehearsal



    Sara and Students

    Studio Rehearsal


    Ballet Hispanico Dancers Rehearse in Skidmore Dance Studio



    Tina Ramirez and Students



    Ballet Hispanico Dancers Rehearse in Skidmore Dance Studio

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