Whether it’s a child learning their first ballet steps or a retiree who wants to stay limber and physically active — or anyone in between — the TJC Academy of Dance has a class for every skill level.
“We offer classes for all ages and abilities,” said Carolyn Hanna, director of the TJC Academy of Dance and the TJC Department of Dance. “We currently have more than 35 classes for ages 3 through adult.”
The TJC Academy of Dance has been an East Texas mainstay for more than three decades. In December, the holiday classic “Nutcracker” ballet will take the TJC stage for the 34th time.
While “The Nutcracker” is often what first comes to mind about when people think of the TJC Academy of Dance, Hanna said the mouse king and sugar plum fairies are just the tip of the iceberg of what the Academy has to offer.
“We can involve kids in dance class as a purely fun, recreational activity. And then, if they decide this is their true passion and they love it, they can continue with rigor and intensity that can propel them to a career in dance,” she said.
The TJC Academy is also gaining a reputation among influential dance companies and conservatories around the country.
“Our alumni are reaching not just Texas but the whole country and the world,” Hanna said. “We have academy dancers in competitions in Europe. The most exciting part as a teacher, and as director of the program, is to see the success of our students when they leave. Most of our Academy dancers will get scholarships to major dance universities throughout the country or join professional companies right out of high school. When we see them continue their love for dance, that is most inspiring to witness!”
Prominent dance schools are beginning to request more students from TJC.
“We have schools that have really enjoyed our students who went there and are beginning to call and ask if we have other students who might be a good fit,” Hanna said. “We’re creating good relationships with a lot of those major dance conservatories, which is huge for us and for our students.”
For students truly dedicated to a career in dance, the sky is the limit.
“Or, if not a career, they can at least gain a portfolio of skills such as self-discipline, dedication and physical awareness, which will benefit them in whatever path they choose,” she said.
Fall academy classes begin Aug. 15
“In addition to pre-professional training in ballet and modern, we also cater to anyone of any age, wherever they are in their ability,” Hanna said.
Fall classes at the TJC Academy of Dance begin Monday, Aug. 15.
“Starting with age 3, we offer pre-ballet classes, which include ballet-based coordination skills and creative movement,” she said. “We make it fun by giving them activities such as being a butterfly and flying around the studio.”
Combo dance classes are also popular with the younger set.
“They are a combination of ballet, tap and maybe some jazz, so our youngest kiddos can get a smorgasbord of different genres to see what they like and whether they would like to branch off into areas other than ballet,” she said.
Hanna is also excited about the Academy’s new offerings this year, including a class just for boys plus a class for special-needs students.
“The boys’ class will offer hip hop, jazz and lots of high-energy movement,” she said, “and our differently abled class will be a great opportunity for special-needs kids who have yet to take a dance class and who might need assistance from a parent or caregiver. We approach everything with inclusivity and fun.”
Hanna adds that there’s plenty of inclusivity and fun for the adults, as well.
“We understand many people have taken dance at some point in their lives,” she said. “So, if there are any adults out there who are finding more time in their evenings or during the day, and they want to move their bodies a little bit, we have some classes that they might enjoy.”
She continued, “In addition to our adult ballet class that has been very popular this summer, we offer a Pilates class Thursday evenings, which is good for core strengthening and stability, and we have a yoga class on Friday mornings that’s a perfect balance of coordination and flexibility training.”
For more information, or to register for fall classes, go to TJC.edu/AcademyofDance.