Children learn Cirque du Soleil-type of aerial dancing

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Aerial dancer Savana.jpg

If one was to hear that El Cajon’s Center Stage School of Dance instructor Dusti Morales is teaching a class of beginning “cat skinners,” they would think that sounds somewhat dangerous. Of course it’s not meant to literally skin a cat. In this case the phrase is actually one of the dance moves Morales teaches her students in her aerial dance class.

If one was to hear that El Cajon’s Center Stage School of Dance instructor Dusti Morales is teaching a class of beginning “cat skinners,” they would think that sounds somewhat dangerous. Of course it’s not meant to literally skin a cat. In this case the phrase is actually one of the dance moves Morales teaches her students in her aerial dance class.

According to Center Stage’s director Jenna Jones, who introduced the aerial dance class to the studio in May 2012, “Many people actually associate aerial dancing with the Cirque du Soleil travelling shows.” Now the class is available to kids ages 7 through 16 at the East County studio, offering beginning, intermediate and advanced classes.

Jones, who was introduced to aerial dancing in New Mexico, was part of the aerial dance group Project in Movement. She explained aerial dancing as climbs, poses and drops using what are called aerial “silks” or chiffon ropes, which are tied from a high bar, beam or attachment near the room’s ceiling. The silk is used as an apparatus to do the climbs, poses and drops.

Jones’s former dance group will be performing what they call a mesmerizing adaption of the Shakespearian classic “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in various parts of the country. Aerial dance is becoming a part of the mainstream theater world as well.

Morales had students like Savana Clancy, 11, and Melina Toppi-Deleo, 7, practicing their aerial silk moves with names such as skin the cat, boot, double star drop and pencil. Guidance for the girls included Morales pointing out, “You’re still dancing, not flying around.”
Morales showed the girls one of the tricks of the trade — using the resin which ballerinas use on their point shoes on their hands for a better grip. “Grace and strength and amazing” are how Morales describes aerial dancing.

Stephanie Clancy says that her daughter Savana had her older sister Cierra Urban expose her to this form of dance, and now Savana is following in her sister’s shoes.

Gary Toppi’s daughter Melina saw it performed at a recital and wanted to sign up.
Jones calls their recitals productions and says their next one will be the beginning of July, and typically in past years have been at Steele Canyon High School.

According to Wikipedia, “Aerial modern dance is a sub-genre of modern dance first recognized in the United States in the 1970s.”

What is also catching on as an offshoot of this is aerial dance yoga, using the silks or curtain-like draping to do yoga, generally with music.

Music to accompany the visually stunning dance can include the Cirque du Soleil’s soundtrack courtesy of Pandora, an Internet music service. It’s difficult to tell if the music and silks will replace other dance classes like pole dancing in studios or homes, but it could become a dead-heat race.

The dance school makes the teachers available for birthday parties. What this unique dance form also offers to the tiny dancers’ parents are stunning photo opportunities. However, parents should be prepared to catch their breath before watching their children practice those aerial silk moves.

For information on enrolling or attending a class or production, visit their website at: www.centerstageod@att.net.

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