A Celebration of Dance
by Amy Colgan-Niemeyer
North Countryman, Jul 1, 2006
Rouses Point, NY – If you thought you’d have to travel to New York City or London to experience top notch dance instruction and performance, think again. For the month of July, Rouses Point will host SummerDance: RP06, a celebration of art and performance presented by Norte Maar, and organization based there whose mission in part is to present and promote the arts in rural locations.
An exhibition entitled “Nureyev: Photographs of a Dancer” runs from June 26 – Aug. 6 at the Julian Scott Memorial Gallery, Dibden Center for the Arts, Johnson, Vt. with an opening reception to be held on July 8 from 6 to 8 p.m., but events kick off in Rouses Point beginning July 6 with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Show, a photography exhibit and film series celebrating the famous dance duo.
And, the Summer Conservatory of Dance, in its third year here in the North Country, runs for two weeks in July, giving aspiring dancers the opportunity to study with top dance instructors alongside top dancers. These professional dancers are invited by Norte Maar to spend the summer in Rouses Point.
“The experience that we offer is very unique,” said Jason Andew, Director of Norte Maar, who is very active in having artists meet artists. “A very European-style training where all the dancers will train together. It gives the aspiring younger dancers the opportunity to study in a very intense environment.”
A variety of classes are available including those on conditioning, ballet technique, character, partnering and pointe. Faculty this year includes master teachers Julia Gleich of London, Ernesta Corvino of New York City and other guests.
“It will be something very modern,” Andrew said.
Although there are dance schools in the area, Norte Maar fills a void for those dancers who want to become professionals.
“We can get them connected into different kinds of art worlds. We help them branch off into a career in dance,” Andrew said. “We firmly believe that any young dancer that’s got that kind of aspiration can become very great.”
“I hope that the people will take advantage of it,” he added. “The Conservatory’s a very, very special opportunity for a lot of people [in the North Country].”
in addition, a summer dance concert, the Fete de Danse, presented by Norte Maar in affiliation with the Rouses Point-Champlain Historical Society, will return for its third year. Gleich Dances Contemporary Ballet of London, Burklyn Ballet Theatre of Johnson, Vermont, Andrew J. Nemr, tap dancer and founding member of Savion Glover’s TiDii of New York City, Racoco Productions, also of New York, City, which presents unique theatrical experiences that combine dance, theater, everyday objects and other forms of entertainment and expression, and the Bernadette Short School of Irish Dancing of Montreal will be featured as well as others yet to be announced.
“This ballet program that he puts together…there’s little different types of things going on,” said Historical Society president, Geri Favreau. “And some of it is fun and some of it is very elegant and it’s just, it’s different.”
The partnership between Norte Maar and the Rouses Point-Champlain Historical Society was born when Andrew bought a house in the village and sought to become involved with the local social groups.
“The Historical Society, I really fell in love with because their mission was to preserve the North Country,” Andrew said. “Primarily they were interested in trying to renovate the local D&H Railroad Station.”
“One of our dreams is that we want to be able to have the [Station] restored and make it a village museum,” Favreau said. “And that’s going to take a lot of money.”
All the proceeds from the Fete de Danse concert in years past have gone to that restoration project. And this year is no different.
“Our real heart is in the North Country,” said Andrew, who lives in New York City. “These professional artists all get together and we kind of just relax and talk about ideas and try new things and do experimentations. Rouses Point is such a beautiful little village near the lake that we can experience all kinds of outdoor activities and still get a place away from the noisy city.”
In return, the Historical Society does a lot of ground work for the event, including soliciting sponsors, helping to build the stage, putting up posters, assisting with publicity, and throwing the after-show party, where those who attend the Fete de Danse get a chance to meet the performers.
“We make a lot of the food ourselves,” Favreau said. “It’s very, very nice. We’ve had a lot of very nice compliments on it.”
Although the Society is historical rather than cultural, Favreau said, “We say we’re making history by doing this, so it really kind of does fit into our mission.”
The SummerDance:RP06 wraps up with the Wal-Mart Ballet’s performance of La Sylphide.
“I think that ballet itself is a very inaccessible art form,” Andrew said. “It’s very rarified and it lends iteself to the major cities where there’s a lot of culture, so it’s the way of the Norte Maar making dance and ballet more accessible to general audiences.”
Although the various aspects of SummerDance:RP06 have been brought to Rouses Point in past years, Andrew said, “This is the first year that we’ve done it where it’s all under one big title. We decided that it would be quite special to be able to put it all under one big event.”
Much of the funding for SummerDance:RP06 comes from Friends of Norte Maar.
“I call them the Devine Group,” Andrew said. “A group of individuals from all over the world that have for a very long time been involved in one way or another with supporting the kind of events that I myself have done and now Norte Maar.”