Many dance companies approach ballet from a modern angle. Caroline Calouche, celebrating her company's 10th anniversary, prefers a more perpendicular one. When the stage is not enough space for her visions of macabre masquerade balls or surreal dreamscapes, she takes to the air above it, outfitted with a cirque's worth of aerial harnesses and accoutrements. Her dancers are just as likely to pirouette down a 20-foot skein of golden silk as across a hardwood floor. Pairs of lovers might hang precariously from the frame of a hollow cube or perform a gravity-defying pas de deux on the double lyra—their suspension above the earth either an expression of freedom or a prison of their own making. Like identifying an elderly smoker's gender over the phone, the airborne element leaves plenty of room for interpretation.
By marrying the storytelling ability of floor-bound choreography with the gravity-defying tricks of circus arts, Caroline Calouche & Co. unleashes the full potential of aerial dance. The company's productions are free to venture to strange new places. For example, in past shows, women have risen from their graves to haunt their murderous husbands. Likewise, the sounds of Moby and Blue Man Group are more likely to be heard than Debussy.
Audience members who want to ply the ropes and silks for themselves can learn to do so during the dance company's aerial-dance classes, along with a tight curriculum of ballet, contemporary, and stretching and strengthening courses. For all its global influences and aerial showmanship, Caroline Calouche & Co. keeps its feet rooted in the local community with outreach programs for all ages, ethnicities, and social groups.
The consortium of professional instructors at Charlotte Ballroom Dance Academy shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Paired with a partner or teamed up with instructor-founders Zenaida and Bryon Chandler—Latin and Showdance and Open Smooth champions, respectively—students can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or mambo. Dancers can develop their skills and confidence in private and group lessons or during jovial practice parties, where they'll trip the light fantastic without tripping on the light itself. Charlotte Ballroom Dance Academy also hosts occasional specialty classes, such as Cardio Ballroom, and leads betrothed couples through special wedding-dance lessons.
Planet Ballroom’s studios offer a glimpse of a bygone era, when gentlemanly dancers whisked their partners across dance floors amid elegant decor and soft hanging lanterns. Professional dancers lead both private and group classes within these rustic halls, guiding couples through the steps and proper techniques of social dances such as the waltz, tango, salsa, and swing. The seasoned instructors also conduct fitness-focused classes, leading teens and adults through energetic workouts of cardio Latin dance, ballet, and Pilates. Every Friday night the studio opens to students for an evening of dancing, socializing, and hatching plans to flash-mob the local DMV, and throughout the month, instructors also invite dancers back for a variety of dinner-and-dancing events.
At Dance Productions 2, students get a head start on grace. Classes welcome pupils as young as 2 all the way up to 18. From preschool ballet and tumbling to advanced jazz and contemporary, the classes focus on different genres of dance, all within a schema that emphasizes proper technique and a welcoming social environment. The same philosophy anchors summer camps, which cover everything from tap and creative movement to hip-hop.
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