We hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy during this difficult time. Grand Rapids Ballet School remains responsive to the unfolding COVID-19 conditions, keeping the health and safety of our students, staff, and community as first priority.
At the direction of Michigan Governor Whitmer’s state-wide order for schools to close for the remainder of the semester, we have suspended all operations and the reopening of Grand Rapids Ballet School until it is deemed safe to do so. As such, it is with greatest regret that we announce the cancellation of our 2020 Summer Intensives and Summer Camps.
We look forward to our return to the studios as soon as possible to continue to bring professional ballet instruction to our community. In the event it is safe to reopen mid-summer, and we have the time and resources to prepare, we will post information about the opportunity for summer classes on this page. Thank you for your continued support of Grand Rapids Ballet School.
For those of you tuning in to keep up with Company dancer Madison Massara’s journey abroad, we have an update! Please read our previous blog post for more information on the program, how she applied, and how she funded her trip.
As you know, she has flown far from home this summer to Prague to attend the International Ballet Masterclasses. Today marks her tenth day abroad, almost the end of her journey. Soon she will be returning home to join us for the 2019-20 season, but until then check out what she has been up to in Europe.
“I had class this morning and variations. In pas de deux class I was living my best life. I danced with a student from Royal Ballet, who was such a pleasure to work with and was very kind. After classes for the day Isabelle Ciaravola (Etoile from Paris Opera Ballet) had an interview with us and it was so fascinating to hear her story and to watch videos of her dancing. A large group of us dancers went out for Pho after class and we had a fun evening of talking and laughing. Excited for another day tomorrow!”
“After dance I walked back to the dorms and came across some more gorgeous architecture then ate and got ready to go out for a fun night.”
“After classes for the day we all went out to this adorable restaurant to celebrate our friend Sophie’s birthday, I had a quinoa avocado salad with pomegranate and grilled veggies (so good). Had a productive fun day and am excited to have some new teachers tomorrow.”
“Today started out great. I had the most amazing technique class with Daria Klimentova and she pulled me aside and asked where I was from and complemented my dancing, and after class had me do a photo of me jumping and her correcting me in the back.”
Madison Massara is one of our newest company members and a Michigan native. She joined the company as a trainee in 2017 and was promoted to company dancer in 2019. Prior to her time at the ballet, she performed as a Guest Artist in Skye Ballet Center’sThe Nutcracker; competed at YAGP and the Indianapolis International Ballet Competition; and attended various esteemed summer intensives.
“Day 1 in Prague. Got in at 8:30am Prague time and had the whole to day meet tons of new people, settle into the hotel, and explore the gorgeous city all day, witnessing all the beautiful architecture from all around Prague.”
This summer Madison has embarked on a new adventure. Madison spread her wings and soared far from home to Prague where she will be living for two weeks while she attends the International Ballet Masterclasses. The International Ballet Masterclasses in Prague was founded by former prima ballerina, Daria Klimentova. Her goal in creating the summer program was to bridge the gap between professionals and students. She wanted to provide rising stars and young professionals with an opportunity to engage with current artists to benefit from their experience and expertise.
“1st day of classes. I had a day full of dancing, learning, walking around town, and meeting more new people!”
After hearing about the opportunity from a friend, Madison quickly researched the program and filled out an application. Promptly after her submission she heard back with an acceptance. She was going to Prague!
“Ate lunch on the river with a group of friends before our last class of the day.”
But how was she going to get there? Madison was intent on raising the money herself and decided to use the popular online platform GoFundMe as a way to secure funding for the trip. She blasted the GoFundMe through Facebook and with the generosity of her friends and family, Madison was able to fund her trip almost entirely.
“Entrance to the studios. Another fun day of dancing. I had a wonderful class with Thomas Edur (artistic director of Estonian National Ballet) who introduced a lot of ballet philosophy into class which challenged me to reflect and come up with some personal philosophies.”
On July 27 Madison embarked on her first journey across the Atlantic. She said while she was most looking forward to meeting and learning from the esteemed faculty members, she also hoped to have time to explore the beautiful and historically rich city of Prague. She planned to immerse herself in the culture by touring the castles, visiting the medieval Astronomical Clock, attending museums, trying new food, and walking around to soak in the beauty of the city. She giggled when asked if she learned any Czech and replied that she planned on learning some before she left.
“Today was a blast. In the morning I had class with Vladimir, then had another amazing variations class and we worked on the talisman variation.”
Good luck, Madison. Keep up to date with her journey through our Instagram!
“We had a fantastic interview with Thomas Edur (artistic director of Estonian National Ballet) and he discussed his career and philosophy behind ballet. I then went back to the hotel, ate, talked to my brother who is in London doing the Royal Ballets summer intensive, then I went to bed after another tiring yet inspiring day!”
Grand Rapids Ballet School
Hometown: East Lansing, Michigan
Dance experience: 29 years. Received a BFA in dance from Oakland University and a master’s in Arts Development from University of Denver. Danced for various contemporary companies. Performed as a B-girl and a backup dancer.
Favorite movie: Some Like It Hot
Favorite food: Sushi
Best season: Fall
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Maui
Often daunting, always exciting, summer intensives are of the utmost importance for the training of a pre-professional dancer. Most are between three and five weeks, jam-packed with learning, dancing, and making new memories. All professional dancers started as students much like you, attending summer intensives and feeling excited and nervous. As a student, I found that the summer intensives I attended ended up being some of the most transformative years of my training toward become a professional dancer. Whether it be the stellar training, diverse repertoire, adventurous weekend activities, or friendships I made, I never regretted attending a single one of them. Regardless if you’re attending a shorter three-week program or even a longer seven-week program, here are some tips to help you survive and thrive during your summer intensive.
Tip #1: BE NICE
• As in life, this applies to everyone at your intensive. These are your peers, contemporaries, and teachers. You will run into them again, so always have a smile and a kind word.
Tip #2: BE PREPARED TO GIVE 100%
• Make sure you’re in shape before you arrive; do not take time off leading up to an intensive. Up to two weeks before you arrive, you should be taking class every day to ensure your body is in good condition.
• Pack the right things in your suitcase. Of course, start with ballet clothes that follow your school’s dress code, but be prepared to spend time outside the studio exploring your host city. For example, Grand Rapids gets quite warm in the summer but it occasionally has a cooler rainy day (this is Michigan, after all—if you don’t like the weather, just wait an hour). So, you should pack summer clothes and a rain jacket. And don’t forget things like a sewing kit.
• Stay positive. Remember teachers only give corrections because they are trying to help you, so don’t allow yourself to get into the mindset one teacher doesn’t like you. And please don’t fret about your level placement; you are placed in the level in which the school faculty knows you will succeed.
• Work hard and your effort to improve will be noticed. Give everything your best effort; there’s no time like the present to work hard.
Photo: Jade Butler
Tip #3: BE CURIOUS
• The need for a dancer who is able to do both classical ballet and contemporary dance is growing. so it’s important to start as a student—be open to trying new styles.
• You may be scheduled to take classes you don’t normally take at your home studio like character, hip-hop, or Pilates. These classes are all great ways to grow and learn as a dancer and they were included in the curriculum to help you. And you might just end up loving it.
• Remember, your teachers might teach a step slightly differently than they do at your home studio. That’s OK. Different styles of ballet steps (Vaganova, Cecchetti, Balanchine) have differences and it does not mean they are teaching the step incorrectly. As a professional dancer, the choreographer wants you to do their step their way—not your way, mom’s way, or your home studio’s way. Again, you will learn something new, which is always a good thing. Trust them.
“One of the best things about a summer intensive is all of the new information you receive. Whether it’s learning from new students attending an intensive at your home studio, or attending a summer program at a different school, my advice is to be as open as possible. Hold on to everything you know about ballet lightly, and see what matches up based on what you see and what you are taught. If something doesn’t ring true, you can discard it when you go back to your normal training in September, but challenge yourself to try new things for the entire time you are in the new environment.” —Steven Houser, Grand Rapids Ballet Company Dancer and Ballet Master
Photo: Jade Butler
Tip #4: DRESS TO IMPRESS
• I think you know what I am going to say here: Follow the dress code that is a given to you to the letter. Remember, you’re asked to wear a black leotard or pink tights so your teacher can see your lines well. You’re only at this school for a short number of weeks, so you want to put your best foot forward figuratively and literally.
• Show up ready to shine with your hair done nicely and pulled away from your face with no holes or runs in your tights (remember that sewing kit I referenced earlier?)
• Dancing 4-6 hours a day means a lot of sweat, so wear deodorant and shower regularly. This is common sense.
Tip #5: FUEL YOURSELF
• Make sure you’re eating enough to sustain how much dancing you’re doing every day. When you’re craving a snack, have one, but make sure it’s nutritious, sustainable, and minimally processed. And it goes without saying: water, water, and more water.
• Sleep six to eight hours per night (maybe even more, if possible). There’s nothing like a full night’s sleep to prepare you for a full day of dancing and working hard.
Photo: Jade Butler
Tip #6: HAVE FUN
• Enjoy yourself! Go on those weekend activities; I promise you will make memories that will last a lifetime.
• Connect with your new friends…Instagram, email, Facebook, phone numbers, Snapchat. Keep in contact and continue to grow your dance network. You may find yourself next to many of them at the barre in the future and a friendly face is always a nice thing to see.
“During a summer intensive you spend the entire day dancing which can take a toll on your body. I try to spend time every morning before class rolling out and time after the day is over to stretch. I’ve found that this is the best way to prep my body for the long day ahead and also relax after a whole day of dancing.” —Sophia Brodin, Grand Rapids Ballet Summer Intensive student
When it comes to their kids, parents want them to have the best. Exposure to things like sports and the arts help them to become more well rounded young men and women. Have you thought about ballet? Kids are into all sorts of after-school sports and other activities like piano and violin lessons. Dancing is a great medium for both girls and boys. And, they can start young. Classical ballet may have been pushed aside in favor of tap dancing, hip-hop, jazz and other forms. But, did you know that beginning with ballet will help with these other types of dancing? That is just one little secret we’re letting you in on. Ballet dancers make it look effortless as they move across the stage. From the lifts to the toe points, many wonder how they can do it. Your kids can also be a part of this through the practice of classical ballet. Ballet classes can start for young kids around ages four and five. For them, being in front of all those mirrors and the bar is something new and exciting. Some of the benefits of ballet for young kids are:
They learn to follow instructions
They gain a sense of discipline through learning new positions
They learn co-ordination, balance and how to control their bodies in motion
They are active and getting daily exercise
They become comfortable performing before groups
When a child is young, learning new things is easier for them. They can adapt and learn more quickly than when they are older. So, once a child begins in ballet at an early age, they are not only learning a valued art form but also getting trained for the life that is ahead of them. This is just the beginning, though. As a child continues to pursue ballet, youíll see more benefits emerging – especially when they become adolescents and into the teenage years.
They develop long and strong muscles from the practice of ballet
They gain a sense of self-confidence and pride in their bodies and what they can accomplish
They learn how to work to get what they want out of their performance
The skills learned in ballet are useful for other forms of dancing like tap or jazz if they want to take that up later
They learn about proper nutrition to keep their bodies in shape so they can dance
Maybe you’ve never considered ballet as an after-school activity before. Now that you are aware of some of the wonderful benefits of this form of dance you have another option for your children. Who knows, one day they could be dancing across stages all over the country and beyond.
A partnership with the Arts Council through the years with the the school’s performance of the Nutcracker Ballet and the “tea party with Clara” event every December prompted the expansion. Their was just a great interest in the December event that the school decided to bring their faculty to Holland. The classes will give kids ages 3-9 years old a chance to learn ballet. The school will also hold classes for those with Down Syndrome and Parkinson’s disease as well.
Attila Mosolygo is the Director and Principal of Grand Rapids School of Ballet (GRBS) and says he believes strongly that dance plays an important role in the healthy development of your child’s focus, coordination, discipline, and etiquette. Mosolygo starting training in Hungary and by the time he was 12-year-old knew he would be dancing. After moving to America he studied at the Joffrey Ballet and an audition with the Grand Rapids Ballet led him to Michigan.
Mosolygo says the classes for Down Syndrome students first started in Grand Rapids and the results were fantastic.
“To be able to offer a dance class to every child you know regardless of their ability, age or body type is fantastic and to be able to enrich lives of young kids.The first thing I thought was if we’re going to try to bring this program out to the Holland community, I want to make sure people are aware of it. We connected with the director of The Commons of Evergreen. It’s been long proven that dance is one of the best things you can do when you have Parkinson’s. The class is very physical and active. but we can adapt the class to everyone’s need.”
In an effort to make sure they can fill the classes, you are asked to register as soon as possible so that the school has an idea of how nany students they will be training.
Classes start on Monday September 11 and will run until Monday, May 7, 2018. Ballet classes are available for children 3-4 and 7-9 and children with Down syndrome age 5 and up, and do not require prior dance or ballet experience.
Day/time: Monday 4:15-5pm
Cost: $380 per school year, $205 per semester ($410 total), $49 per month ($441 total)
Dress code Girls: soft pink leotard, soft pink tights, and pink ballet shoes. Boys: black ballet tights or black leggings, black ballet shoes, plain white fitted t-shirt.
Day/time: Monday 5-6pm
Cost: $435 per school year, $235 per semester ($470 total), $58 per month ($504 total)
Dress code: Girls: lavender leotard, soft pink tights, and pink ballet shoes. Boys: black ballet tights or black leggings, black ballet shoes, plain white fitted t-shirt.
Explorer Dance for Down Syndrome
Ages: 5 and up
Day/time: Wednesday 5:30-6:15pm
Cost: $162 per school year, $90 per semester ($180 total), $22 per month ($198 total)
Moving with Parkinson’s
Ages: 50 and up and their care partners of any age
Day/time: Monday 11:15am-12pm
Cost: $3 for Evergreen Commons members / $5 for non-members.
Dress code: loose, comfortable clothing
Holland Area Arts Council is located at in downtown at 150 East 8th Street, Holland, Michigan 49423. Evergreen Commons is located at 480 State Street, Holland, Michigan 49423. For more information on all the GRBS classes offered in Holland, including schedules, costs, directions, enrollment, and financial aid, please visit grballet.com/holland, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 616.454.4771 x17.
The GRBS remains committed to lifting the human spirit through the art of dance under the leadership of Patricia Barker as artistic director, Glenn Del Vecchio as executive director, and Attila Mosolygo as school director. A proud recipient of the ArtServe Michigan Governor’s Arts Award for Outstanding Cultural Organization, Michigan’s only professional ballet company has a rich history marked by steady growth, a commitment to excellence, and strong community support. In addition,
Grand Rapids Ballet School provides over 200 students with the highest quality dance instruction in a nurturing and encouraging environment and the opportunity to perform in productions by Grand Rapids Junior Company. Keep up with the ballet on Twitter,Facebook,Instagram, and YouTube.