BWW Feature: Shimmying Our Way Into NYC Dance Week with Ailey
NYC Dance Week, organized by Tendu Inc, collaborates with studios across the five boroughs to provide free or discounted dance and fitness classes to the public. This year NYC Dance Week will take place from June 14 to June 23, 2018.
The Ailey Extension, a dance school for the public helmed by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, is a partner of NYC Dance Week. It will offer over 30 free classes, in a myriad of styles, for first-time students. There will also be two free classes offered to returning students: Katherine Jimenez's New York Style Mambo class on Saturday, June 16 and Karen Arceneaux's DanceFit class on Friday, June 22.
The Ailey Extension will be kicking off NYC Dance Week and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's performances at Lincoln Center, with a free Revelations workshop on Wednesday, June 13 at 6pm at Lincoln Center's Josie Robertson Plaza. Several performances will follow at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater throughout the week.
A friend and I decided to get a taste of NYC Dance Week early and review a class at the Ailey Extension. We chose Quenia Ribeiro's Beginner Samba/Afro-Brazilian class. If working up a sweat to sonorous, live bass drumming is your thing, you'll enjoy this class.
After a thorough warm-up, Quenia led students through a short, choreographed sequence, which she added to each time we went through a few repetitions of it. We did a style of Samba from Rio de Janeiro which is often seen at Carnival. It is a more upright style with large arm movements and quick foot and hip work.
Quenia teaches more by showing rather than telling (though that may have been due to incompatibility of loud music and a soft voice.) Still, she did a great job of breaking down the basic Samba step in a way that can make it more accessible to beginners.
The second part of class focused more obviously on Samba's West African roots with greater jumps and arm flourishes, deeper torso/core undulations and stances that keep the dancer closer to the earth. This part of the class will be more familiar to anyone who has studied West African dances or their diasporic manifestations in Latin America and the Caribbean. It was wonderful to get a taste of both carnival and folkloric styles in one, fun class!
There's still time to sign up for Samba and so many other classes on the NYC Dance Week website. To view Ailey Extension's complete NYC Dance Week schedule, visit aileyextension.com/nycdanceweek and for more information on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Lincoln Center season, visit alvinailey.org.Photo by Kyle Froman