Wednesday, October 29, 2014

London: Pineapple Dance Studios

Traveling pushes me out of my comfort-zone, forces me to take risks, to explore new places and to practice new languages. Dancing does these same things and generates the same rewards – great memories, new friends, and rich experiences.
Pineapple Dance Studios, London, UK.

So it makes perfect sense to me to combine these two great things – travel and dance – into a great day at the renowned Pineapple Dance Studios in London! 

Pineapple is on Langley Street, in Covent Garden of central London and is easily accessible from the Piccadilly Line of the Underground. I first heard about Pineapple Dance Studios from my fellow dance teacher colleagues at Strathcona High School, back in Edmonton. The Scona Dance Co. regularly takes dance trips to London and this active studio is always one of their main stops. It’s not hard to see why. They have dance classes in “over 40 different styles” and more than “260 classes per week”!

I was really craving a jazz class, since I’m getting my weekly ballet fix in France. I decided to start the day off in Studio 2 with Sol Dans Company’s Performance and Technique class. Sol Dans is “the UK’s premier contemporary jazz dance company” and they teach open classes at Pineapple on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Tuesday class was specified as an intermediate level class and it was super exciting for me to get back to jazz dance.

Studio 2: a very busy place!
The class was team-taught by two Sol Dans members, Amy and Laura, and their positivity, warmth, energy and humor kept the class moving at quick, up-beat pace. After a swift but thorough warm-up, we launched right into choreography – a fun, sassy, flirty piece set to the Tanner Patrick cover of “All About the Bass”. Almost an entire hour out of the 90 minute class was devoted to breaking down and running the combo and resulted in us learning a substantial chunk of choreography – 1 min. 15 seconds long!

I really enjoyed the variety of the jumps and turns in the piece and I had fun playing with the balance between the technique and style. My favorite section was also the most challenging: a sustained attitude turn into an inside pencil turn, to a quick prep into a double pirouette with the right arm extending straight up during the turn. Tricky, yes, but also a great way to experiment with the physics of turning by switching-up the placement of the arms.

Sol Dans class was the perfect introduction to Pineapple Dance Studios and everything an intermediate dancer could want from a jazz class: great music, supportive ensemble, technically and stylistically challenging, and just so much fun!
Resting and refueling at the Perfect Blend Cafe.

My brain and body demanded a break to rest and refuel before I dove into another class, so I hung out in the Perfect Blend CafĂ© on the second floor. It was so nice to sit and just take in the sounds and ambience of the studio: students and teachers chanting the counts of a piece like a mantra (“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 AND 8!”), the short snippets of music and the satisfying sound of a large ensemble of dancers finally landing the jump sequence together. These sounds are the heartbeat of any dance center and they make even new places feel familiar.

I returned to Studio 2 at 1PM for Theatre Jazz, a musical theatre-style class. It was a whirlwind of warming-up, stretching, conditioning, kicking technique and choreography packed into one hour. And it was also literally packed with dancers of all ages, including a group of students on a dance trip from Norway. The choreography was set to a short snippet of “Buenos Aires” from Evita. It was a quick, fun, character-driven dance with an emphasis on storytelling through facial expressions, Latin-dance inspired arms and fast footwork.

Just one of the many bulletin boards advertising classes
and workshops. So much variety!
After all that traveling and dancing, I was sure tired physically but I felt great after spending the day at that bustling hub of dance in London. The variety of classes to choose from really can’t be beat; it’s a real kid-in-a-candy-store sense of possibility. I will definitely take more classes at Pineapple next time I’m London. The front desk staff was so friendly and helpful with maps and directions of the area and they and the dancers I met and chatted with while waiting made me feel welcome. It’s a traveling dancer’s ideal!
Young Dancer by Enzo Plazzotta.
I spent some time afterwards wandering around the Covent Garden area and admired Enzo Plazzotta’s Young Dancer statue across the street from the Royal Opera House. It seemed fitting, on a day where I got to meet some great new people and be inspired and challenged by them, that I met up with that lovely little dancer abroad. All her hopes and dreams are quietly captured in her bronze features and her thoughtful presence no doubt inspires other young dancers who visit her. 

Dance and travel truly work hand in hand. They both make me step outside what I’m used to, both geographically and technically, and both reward me with new experiences to reflect on and share.

And they’re both just plain fun! A day of travel and dance is truly an exceptional day!

Two dancers abroad!

For more information about Pineapple Dance Studios and Sol Dans Company, check out their websites:

No comments:

Post a Comment