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Lauren Waldstein
Dance Class Spotlight
Jazz Dance
Rome, OT (Italy)

When in Rome…Dance at IALS

by Lauren Waldstein
April 28, 2008
Istituto Addestramento Lavoratori dello Spettacolo
60 Via Cesare Fracassini
Rome, OT (Italy) 00196
06 3236396 - 06 3611926
If you're in Rome and you're a dancer then you most certainly cannot miss out on IALS. Located at 60 Via Cesare Fracassini right off the number 2 tram at the Flaminio Line A Metro stop, IALS appears from the street to be something of a small copy shop or Laundromat. Upon entering you see a cluttered front desk and walls covered floor to ceiling in dance posters, concert reminders, and audition fliers – the true mark of a worthy dance studio. Pass the front desk and wind your way down a long, spiraling ramp to the 12 studios downstairs. Varying in size and function, each studio differs from the next, but all are busy and buzzing with bodies in motion. Most classes are slightly crowded with no less than ten people and generally no more than 25, but that's because IALS is one of the best and practically the only dance studio in Rome. The students are generally professional or pre-professional, though they do offer classes for teenagers and younger students. Still, the general population consists of 20 somethings and a few seasoned pros looking to brush up on their technique. Classes are offered 7 days a week and the schedule can be found on www.IALS.org, or you can pick up a hard copy at the studio itself.

Each morning from 9:30 to 11 there's an advanced ballet class with live accompaniment, but otherwise most classes are accompanied by iPods. Do not miss the Tuesday and Thursday 9:30 – 11 intermediate modern, called "contemporary" in Italy. It's a feel good class that moves from a long warm up on the floor, through a little bit of technique, a sprite petit allegro, to a short piece of repertory at the end. If you're in the mood to get grounded, find your foundation, and build strength and flexibility from there, then this is the class for you. Another amazing class to try is the Monday to Saturday 3:30 – 5 Advanced Jazz. Taught by Roberto Salaorni, an elegant older man with white hair and a magnificent zest for dance, he has gained quite a following in his more than 20 years of teaching. His students resemble their own company – most of them come all 6 days a week and know his warm up, which never changes, by heart. But don't be intimidated to try. He and his students are friendly and his class is easy to follow because of how well everyone knows the warm up material. Made up of young, flexible, strong dancers, his class focuses on enhancing that flexibility and strength through artisanship. The warm up transitions seamlessly from one movement into the next, all the time practicing a released, grounded sense of movement. The crunches subtly whip you into shape and the stretching smoothly pulls you like taffy. Next comes turning and battements usually disguised as a sensual, flowing combination to be repeated at least five times on each side. Then, in the last half hour Salaorni teaches choreography, which generally requires a sense of release, close attention to detail, and the virtuosity of a few turns, leaps, and kicks masked tastefully by their placement in the combination. He is passionate and his students are passionate about him, with good reason.

IALS also offers hip hop, yoga, Pilates, salsa, percussion, acting, and voice lessons – it's a sort of center for the performing arts in this sense. The yoga classes are taught differently than most in the States. Instead of a teacher leading the entire class through a practice, individuals come into class and begin their own practice with the teacher there only to supervise and help instruct the students. Always knowledgeable and very centered, the teachers can be helpful but if you're a first timer to yoga, this is probably not the class for you. The floors vary from studio to studio – the biggest studio is Marley and many of the others are wood, but all are in good condition so that you can dance with or without shoes comfortably. As with most jazz and ballet classes, shoes and sometimes socks are preferred but not necessarily required.

All of the classes are taught in Italian, however there are usually one or two people in a class who speak English if you feel like you need help. The faculty is friendly and welcoming, excited to have students from other countries and not at all put off if you have trouble speaking or understanding Italian. That being said, seasoned dancers shouldn't have any trouble getting through a class without speaking the language. Dance is dance no matter which country you're in and as dancers we're trained to follow movement with ease just by watching. Upon taking classes you will need to purchase a monthly membership card for only 11 euros, which allows you to take all the classes at IALS. Then you pay class by class to the teacher who decides how much to charge. Each class is generally about eight to ten euro. Nothing makes a dancer feel comfortable in a city like finding a good studio, so if you find this one you're in luck – it's guaranteed to make Rome feel like home.
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