Company Programs at Halestone

What is “company”?

Within dance education we can teach dance technique, anatomy and alignment, performance skills, the creative process (how to choreograph, how to communicate ideas), improvisation, teamwork, self-esteem, and so much more. That’s a lot to accomplish in 1-2 hours of class a week, which is why many studios offer company programs for serious dancers of various ages who want a deeper engagement with dance.

At Halestone, students who participate in company get to experience (at a level appropriate for their age) what it is like to be a dancer in a company, rehearsing for a performance and working with guest artists or collaborators. By participating in company students get more chances to put their dance education into practice: community performances and festivals, extra rehearsals, classes and performances at Halestone, and more time per week spent dancing. Because company functions like a rehearsal, company classes are not a place for students to learn dance technique. However the foundation of dance technique(s) is needed for students to be successful performing artists, which is why being in company requires students to take additional dance classes during the week. Company classes at Halestone are focused on developing choreographic tools and critical thinking skills through dance studies. Students will learn composition, feedback techniques, advanced improvisation skills, and be part of producing and performing in various productions throughout the year.

Company programs at Halestone have operated under various names throughout the years (such as the Young Dancers, the High School Ensemble, the Community Dance Connection Theatre, Junior Company, and Senior Company, to name a few).

In 2020-2021 Halestone will offer the following company programs:

  • Creative Movement Ensemble (this is a hybrid “regular” dance class/company class)
  • Company Prep (2nd-8th Grade)
  • Clogging Workshop
  • Modern Company (7th, 8th & HS)
  • Adult Ensemble

Creative Movement Ensemble is open to Kindergarten through 4th Grade students and does not require additional classes to participate. (Although 3rd and 4th Grade students are strongly encouraged to take another class per week, especially if they have prior dance experience). Creative Movement Ensemble is a new experiment to meet certain needs! It’s a pilot program for us. Pending grant funding from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, Halestone will offer transportation from Waddell Elementary and Natural Bridge Elementary for this class. Students from other elementary schools are welcome to register for CME, however transportation must be provided by families for those students. Students will receive a snack and a supervised short social time together at the studio prior to class, time permitting. Students will be expected to participate in Halestone’s fall concert in our studio space.

Students in Creative Movement Ensemble (CME) will learn about dance as an artform through a thematic approach to movement (space, time & energy). Students will be included in Halestone’s fall concert in our studio space, and an emphasis will be placed on collaboratively choreographing as a class. Students will be guided to create a dance piece as an ensemble. They will be empowered to use their newfound knowledge of space, time and energy to create their own choreography and to work in groups to create the dance piece.

Because CME has an emphasis on performing, 3rd and 4th grade dancers enrolling in CME are encouraged to take an additional class per week – either ballet, modern, tap or jazz to work on the development of their technique. Older CME students will be empowered to be mentors to younger CME students.

Company Prep is open to 2nd-8th grade dancers taking at least one other class at Halestone. There is no additional tuition for Company Prep, but registration and a commitment to the class is required to participate. Company Prep gives young dancers the opportunity to experience company membership. Company Prep meets one Friday each month and introduces students to improvisation, choreography and repertory. During that time dancers will be rehearsing a dance to be performed at one of our fall events. In 2020-2021 Company Prep will be co-directed by Liz Becker and Mauri Connors.

Clogging Workshop is open to students with intermediate-advanced skills in clogging. Clogging Workshop participants will collaboratively review and create new dances. Clogging Workshop performs multiple times per year at various community events. Clogging functions like a company class because students have a large amount of agency over their learning and are collaboratively choreographing within the technique of clogging.

Modern Company is open to dedicated 7th – 12th grade dancers who have studied at Halestone for at least one year and others by permission/ invitation of the instructor. Dancers must be taking regular technique classes to support their learning in company. There is no audition to participate in MC, however in 2020-2021 students must take 2 additional technique classes a week at Halestone, one of which must be either Int/Adv Seminar in Modern Dance OR Contemporary/ Ballet Mix. For example, a student in 8th grade could take Int/Adv Seminar in Modern Dance, Ballet II, and be eligible to enroll in MC. An 11th grade student could take Int/Adv Seminar in Modern Dance and Jazz III and be eligible to enroll in MC.

Modern Company will focus on developing choreographic tools and critical thinking skills through dance studies. Students will learn composition, feedback techniques, advanced improvisation skills, and be part of producing and performing in various productions throughout the season. In 2020-2021 MC will be directed by Susanna Young and assisted by Mauri Connors.

Modern Company members are expected to perform at various community and Halestone performances.

Adult Ensemble is open to all interested dancers 18 years of age and older. No prior dance experience is necessary. Dancers must simply have an interest in exploring the creative process through movement and their bodies and be willing to try new things. While performing is not required, Halestone’s Adult Ensemble will be included in many Halestone and community performances. Members of Adult Ensemble who do not wish to perform can opt out of any performance.

Halestone’s Adult Ensemble will explore movement and the creative process through teacher led warm-ups, guided improvisations, some modern dance phrase work, and opportunities to participate in the creation and performance of original choreography. In 2020-2021 Adult Ensemble will be directed by Susanna Young and assisted by Mauri Connors. Participants can expect units on Viewpoints and contact improvisation, as well as performances at community events.

We welcome questions, comments, concerns and suggestions. Please reach out if you are curious about our company programs!

Mauri Connors, Artistic Director

Halestone Modern Company Guidelines, 2020-2021:

  1. Halestone Modern Company membership is open to 7th – 12th grade dedicated dancers that take two classes per week at Halestone Dance Studio. One of the two classes must be either Contemporary/Ballet Mix or Int/Advanced Seminar in Modern Dance. In certain circumstances exceptions will be made.
  2. MC meets weekly on Thursdays from 6:00-7:15 pm. Students are encouraged to take Int/Adv Seminar in Modern Dance directly preceding MC so that they are warmed up and ready to go when class starts. Students that do not take Int/Adv Seminar in Modern must warm themselves up at home or in the lobby prior to 6:00 pm to prevent injury.
  3. Dancers are expected to make weekly class a priority and to attend other scheduled rehearsals. We will attempt to keep additional rehearsals to a minimum, and to schedule them in advance and at convenient times. However due to the nature of our performing schedule, some additional rehearsals can’t be avoided.
  4. Participation in performance and community events is voluntary, but once dancers have indicated that they will participate in a particular event they will be expected to attend all extra rehearsals for the event and the event itself.
  5. Dancers are permitted one non-medical/non-emergency absence during the season for family vacation or other special events. Excessive absences or tardiness to rehearsals may result in a change or loss of role.
  6. Parent/guardian cooperation is expected in ensuring regular attendance and punctuality.
  7. MC dancers will be treated as pre-professional modern dancers involved in the artistic process with company directors and guest artists. Thus, dancers are expected to behave in a professional manner and bring their best selves (body, mind and spirit) to all classes and rehearsals. MC dancers are role models for younger students and are encouraged to act accordingly at all events, classes and rehearsals.
  8. MC members entering their senior year of high school (or the equivalent) are invited to choreograph a piece to be performed in Halestone’s year-end recital. These dancers should follow the below guidelines for choreographing a senior piece:
  • The student should have a conversation with Artistic Director by early November to indicate their intentions to choreograph a piece.
  • The student should organize two showings of the work in progress with the Artistic Director to receive feedback. The student should organize the showings at least one week in advance. These showings could happen during MC class, during a rehearsal for their piece, or at another pre-scheduled time.
  • The student can invite anyone they choose to be in their piece or hold an audition to select dancers. If their piece includes dancers not taking class at Halestone the student should contact the Artistic Director to obtain parental permission/ waivers.
  • If the student’s cast includes each of the members of MC that year the student can expect to use MC class time to rehearse their piece. If not, the student should plan to schedule outside rehearsals with their cast. The Artistic Director can assist in contacting students and parents and arranging rehearsals if the student wishes.
  • If the graduating student would like to have work set specifically on them by the Artistic Director or a guest artist for recital, rather than choreograph their own dance, this may be possible and the student should let the Artistic Director know this preference in the fall.