Fete de Danse: Steps in Right Direction

By Dan Heath, Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Steps in right direction – Spanish, New York dancers add class to Rouses Point event

Plattsburgh – Dancers from near and far will be among those performing at the Fete de Danse 2006, a benefit for the Rouses Point Historical Society.

Aljeandra Alonso, 15, of Barcelona, Spain, and Tiffany Mellard, 17, of the Bronx are staying with Joe, Pam and Leah Damour on Point au Fer.

Pam said she met Alejandra’s aunt three years ago, and members of the two families have visited on both sides of the ocean every year.

“Two years ago, she (Alejandra) came to visit. Last year, we visited her,” Pam said. “This year she came to visit us again.”

Pam’s daughter, Leah said her mother new Alejandra was a dancer and that she was going to be there during the festival.

“We told her to bring her shoes, and she found out when she got here she was going to dance,” Leah said.

Alejandra has been dancing and taking classes since she was 4 years old.

“I just like dancing. I like the music, too.”

Alejandra studies at what she called a small school of about 100 students, called Esclat. She said her instructor, Silvia Paz, teaches contemporary and classical ballet.

“I’ve studied with her since I started. She’s a very good teacher. I love her.”

Tiffany said she also has been dancing since she was 4 years old. She studies with Krystal Hall-Glass at the Harlem School of the Arts two days a week and attend the LaGuardia School for the Perfroming Arts.

“(Norte Maar Director) Jason Andrew saw one of our performances and offered to send some of us up on scholarship. My dance director at the school asked me if I was interested.”

Tiffany said  dancing is fun and healthy and has become her passion over time.
This is her first time in the North Country.

“I like it up here. It’s peaceful. It’s completely different from where I live. I don’t like the mosquitoes, but it’s fun.”
The two dancers have enjoyed their free time, swimming in Lake Champlain, riding bikes, having ice cream and getting towed by a motorboat while riding an inner tube.

Fete de Danse 2006 is presented by Norte Maar for Collaborative Projects in the Arts. Andrew said this is the third year of the not-for-profit has held the dance festival and the two-week Summer Conservatory.

He said master teachers are invited to participate, with this being the third year that Julia Gleich and members of Gleich Dancers Contemporary Ballet have participated.

Also teaching is Ernesta Corvino. The New York-based dancer has experience with a long history of ballet teachers, Andrew said.

“This is a unique experience for rural dance schools. These are some if the best working dance teachers in the world.”

Alejandra and Tiffany are rehearsing to perform in one part of “The Mel Medley,” an original ballet created by Gleich based on the music of Mel Torme.

Both dancers are enjoying the chance to receive top-level instruction in conditioning, technique and  characterization classes each day.

They will also take part in performances in front of the Plattsburgh Wal-Mart every half hour from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, July 29. Gleich is collaborating with Norte Maar personnel to present ballet based on adapted scenes and classical choreography from “La Sylphide.”

“They blow a whistle, and we dance for 10 minutes, the rest for 20 minutes,” Tiffany said.

Andrew said that is a chance to bring what is a typically inaccessible art to the people.

“The people coming in to shop will become an unexpected audience.”

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