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Auditions For Junior Apprentice Right Around the Corner: Haylee Denham’s Experience

Get A Glimpse of the Professional Dance World: Urbanity Apprentice Program

Have you thought about furthering your dance career before or while you are in college? Well, this is the program for you. Our Junior Apprentice &  Apprentice programs  are highly selective programs through an audition process alongside our company. The perks of being an apprentice go on & on. Classes, Photoshoots, Performances, Resume Coaching, etc. Oh, and performing with our professional company!

WIth auditions right around the corner on August 10th from 2-5, why not audition for an unforgettable experience? Our goal is not only to train the next generation of contemporary dancers, but also to instill lifelong skills and nurture the passion for this art form. Current Junior Apprentice of two years Haylee Denham explains,

“Urbanity is the first place where I have not been afraid to be myself and truly show my own style.”

Denham who has been training since she was extremely young at North Shore Dance Academy, believes Urbanity is the sole reason she has gained confidence, truth herself, and trust her fellow dancers. Check out her interview below as she talks about her experiences, lessons learned, and advice to future Urbanity Junior Apprentices:

1. Why Urbanity Dance?

I chose Urbanity because it is full of good vibes and positivity. I have become I better artist and mover than I was prior to urbanity and I am so thankful for that. Urbanity is the first place where I have not been afraid to be myself and truly show my own style.

2. What has been your favorite memory?

My favorite memory is by far the fall show. Yes I absolutely love performing in a professional show but there’s more to it than just that. At these shows I have formed lifelong bonds with some pretty amazing people! Some of my closest friends are people I bonded with over the course of an 8 night show.

 3. What have you learned from the Junior Apprentice program as a dancer and person?

As a dancer I have learned to be myself and always be honest with myself. I have gained confidence in what I have and have learned to excel from there. This acceptance has allowed me to improve immensely in the junior apprentice program. Also as a person I have learned the value in trust and positivity. I have learned to trust my own instincts and have gained trust in others.

4. What advice do you have for future Junior apprentices?

My advice to future junior apprentices is to get involved as much as possible. Of course perform in as many shows as possible and challenge your limits, but urbanity has so much more to offer. Take the opportunity to do things for the community. You can incorporate dance into helping others and I really think that is something special. Share your passion and adoration for dance with others! It certainly goes a long way.

 

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By: Cayley Christoforou

 

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Yoga in Airports? Balance at Urbanity is ALL About This!

Here at Balance, we believe that yoga nourishes your body and soul.

However, it looks like it isn’t just us that believes this. It seems like everyone EVERYWHERE is catching onto our yoga craze, in that yoga is the best antidote to liven your soul.  According to this article posted by Boston Travel about “The Future of Travel” provided by SkyScanner, this yoga craze is hitting airports. Yes, you heard us right, AIRPORTS!

You know that delayed flight that stresses you out to the max? How about taking a yoga class to de stress you? Well, by 2024 you will be able to this. Just walk right out of the flight into a yoga class.

 Wait, but why yoga?  Yoga is considered a mind-body type of an alternative medicine practice. Yoga brings together physical & mental disciplines to achieve peacefulness of mind, overall helping with stress reduction. In fact, numerous studies have shown that yoga can help reduce stress & anxiety. And, you know how stress puts you in that annoying cranky mood especially at the airport? Well, yoga can also enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being.

Urbanity Director Betsi Graves explains,

“Wellness connects the mind, body, and spirit. Not only will these classes help us physically, but also the emotional and mental benefits can be transformative.”

We are beyond excited for this change, however in the meantime before classes hit airports come join us at Balance for our various types of yoga classes!

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By: Cayley Christoforou

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Composer Ryan Edwards Collaborates with Urbanity Artistic Director

 The music a choreographer uses for a piece is a blank canvas ready for ideas of inspiration & creative thoughts to cascade through out the work of art.

Seems pretty cheesy, right? Well, it is completely true. A piece of music can either inspire a specific idea or can be used as a muse to portray an idea already in mind. Music or even silence is such a powerful source. It is a true source of inspiration for choreographers & dancers worldwide.

So, what if you could work alongside an outstanding composer to lay out your ideas, ultimately creating a piece coinciding with that specific music? Well, artistic director, Betsi Graves,  did just that with composer, Ryan Edwards. He explains,

“My first piece working with Betsi/Urbanity was definitely a fun process. It was great experiences chewing on these topics with Betsi and parsing out what we wanted to be thinking of, where the dance and music would be informed from.”

Edwards is a true inspiration who follows his passion for the arts with a  resume that goes on & on I must add. He is a inspired interdisciplinary artist, percussionist and composer who is exploring the intersections of music, dance,sculpture, architecture and video projection. Below Edwards explains his positive collaborating process on creating msg/rcvd. 

This piece is about language, communication and changing communication – new languages, nuances and turns in our lexicon. Ultimately, I found my start with an old manual type-writer. My thought was to go  to the transition from hand-written to typed and hang out there for a bit, sink into the feelings that must have swirled around writers and culture critics of the times regarding change (gasp).

From there, I went to an antique shop down the street from my studio in Watertown – 13909 antiques.The shop keeper, Thomas Duffy, turns out to be a jazz lover, former music festival producer, and totally hip. He was glad to have me in the shop with my recording gear capturing samples from his typewriter, his deco hand-crank steel needle record player, as well as banging on various relics and searching for sound. At one point he did have to say to me… “hey man, easy on the can. that’s 100 years old.”

The process from there was to pull out small bits of sound and manipulate them to find pleasing or interesting samples to work with. Soon after that I introduced the Mbira (thumb piano) as I have been going through a phase playing that so much lately, and I wanted to get it in a piece, hear what it could do. I ran the mbira through some guitar effects and created some interesting distressed sounds. The Mbira is a traditional Shona (Zimbabwe) instrument that among other things, is considered to be a communicator heard by humans, animals and ancestors. Perfect for a piece on communication and syntax.

I brought in some textures to provide some spunk, pop and depth in the 4th movement, and that turned out to be a krin, and a trashy, crunchy kind of cajon (box drum) drum set. Including a 1930’s marching snare drum and lots of tape and noisy things. This representing the hum, the chatter, the constant whir of our contemporary world.

Finally, I brought into the picture grey noise – this was in an effort to explore reductive sound design – in other words, starting with a full wash of sound, and then chipping away, removing frequency ranges and finding sounds – like a sculptor from a stone towards a form. The bass sounds in the fourth movement are particularly satisfying to me, and are sourced from the grey block of noise.

For more information on Edwards check out his website HERE.

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Say Hello to Balance Instructor: Audra Bowsky

In 2003, Audra Bowsky moved into her first apartment. Everything was changing & overwhelming, but there is one moment where everything changed for the young woman: her discovery of yoga.

“Wait, you want me to try yoga?” This was the exact question Bowsky thought to herself when a friend asked her to try the unknown art form . Well, that question above is no longer a question that comes to her mind, in fact she fell in love with yoga immediately.  She explains,

“I was reluctant to try something that made me feel (or look) ridiculous. She led us through a fun and relaxing practice. The next day, I woke up refreshed and a little more open physically and mentally.”

Growing up around theatre & art, she uses her background to inspire her teaching. She loves to see how individuals create the asanas that works best for their bodies, alongside the building of a safe & open environment.

We are thrilled that Audra will be teaching Vinyasa yoga at our new Balance studio, located on 111 W. Concord St. After completing a 200 hour Vinyasa yoga teacher training in Chicago, IL at Nature Yoga Sanctuary, she knew this is where her heart was. So, what exactly is this type of yoga? Vinyasa is very dance like, hence combining the instructors love for yoga with her passion for the art of dance.  Check out her interview below as she explains why she chose Balance, tips on her class, and advice for beginners.

 

 Why Balance?

Oh gosh, there are a lot of reasons! I love dance, and I grew up around theatre and art, so I feel like this is a natural fit. Vinyasa yoga is very dance-like as we flow through poses, and it builds grace and strength. Also, I love the people I’ve met through Urbanity; everyone is so welcoming and professional, which is what really sold me.

 What should people expect from your Vinyasa class? 

I like to teach pretty light-hearted classes. Students can expect a focus on alignment and breathwork and probably some bad yoga jokes. I really work to have non-competitive classes as well. We all need a place where we can focus on ourselves without worrying about work or social obligations, some people just need space to breathe, and that space is my class.

 What advice do you have for people that are new to yoga?

As far as my own classes are concerned, I like to welcome students of all levels, but please let me know before class begins that you are new to yoga. Arrive 15 mins early, settle in and then just go with it. Have fun and remember that getting out of your comfort zone is good for you! Oh and this is a big one: being inflexible is a PERFECT reason to do yoga, people often think they have to be flexible first, not true!

Click HERE for more information on Audra’s classes at Balance.

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By: Cayley Christoforou

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Urban & World Dance Students Share Love of Dance Through Videos!

Here at Urbanity we are all about one thing: Spreading our love of dance throughout our COMMUNITY.

In September 2012, Urbanity launched Urban and World Dance in the Boston Public School district in an effort to expand in-school arts instruction by engaging & empowering students. Whether it is a student who has taken a few dance classes or one who has never danced a day in their life, they are brought together to share the joy and spirit dance brings upon our lives. And, guess what? They love it. Dance brings  joy, passion, and inspiration into these students souls. 

Urbanity instituted a scholarship fund for BPS students, which enables young dancers to pursue their artistic expression. Check out what scholarship student Merline, a 10th grade student, has to say about her experience,

“Dance to me means expression. Class has impacted me in many ways. It gave me a chance to dance styles that  I never did before and to try something new. If I never met my World Dance teacher than I wouldn’t be taking classes outside of school.”

These students learn a diverse curriculum from hip hop to contemporary to salsa to african dance throughout the course of the year.  The videos below display these inspiring students demonstrating their creative minds alongside what they have learned through their experience with Urban & World Dance.

Charlestown High School 

Excel High School

Funded in part by the BPS Arts Expansion Initiative, a multi-year initiative focused on access, equity and quality arts learning for BPS students.

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Movement Mends

Here at Urbanity, we are truly honored to receive a 4,000 dollar grant from the B. Good Family Foundation & are ready to put it to good use. That good use meaning toward our COMMUNITY, of course!

B.  Good’s motto is “Real grant for Good People with Great Ideas.” The foundation uses micro-grants to enable individuals to make positive change in our community with a burning desire to change things for the better. So what is that positive change we’re putting our grant toward? Movement Mends. 

So, what is Movement Mends?  It is a program in the Boston Juvenile Detention centers. Professional dancers from Urbanity’s company & teaching staff travel to juvenile detention centers to teach dance and choreographic workshops to incarcerated youth.These boys are currently offered no arts education & little to no outside contact while incarcerated. Urbanity Dance believes that doing good in our community means making sure that those who are not currently being served are given a second chance to experience the transformative power of art and movement.

 

This money will help build the program tremendously. However, to what exactly?

 

  1. Stable Source. The majority of the people involved with the program are working on a volunteer basis. The program given that we are currently underpaying our teachers there is a lot of turn over, which undermines the power of the class as a stable source of creativity in these boys lives. This money will allow us to pay them a fee to keep a stable teacher environment.
  2. Expansion. The administrative costs of running the program. This means that offering a monthly workshop incurs a cost of $2,479.20 that Urbanity or its volunteers pay out of pocket. Because this program generates no revenue, this money will help expand the program, which we were never able to do. However, NOW WE ARE ABLE TOO NOW!
  3.  Teacher Training. We are now able to offer teacher trainings, ideally twice a year to ensure that the quality of instruction that the boys are receiving is as high as possible.  Our volunteers are also currently paying all transportation costs themselves which leads to low accountability and high turn over from these volunteers. Now we are able to pay for these volunteers transportation increasing interest meaning more commitment!
  4. More Classes. Urbanity would love to be offering these classes more often to these students. At the moment offering 12 classes a year is the maximum that we are able to handle. With the money devoted toward the program we could offer bringing a total of 24 classes!

 

Here at Urbanity we believe dance empowers & changes lives. Thank you B. Good for the money that allows us to do this.

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By: Cayley Christoforou

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SO Many Yoga Classes: Here’s The Breakdown

Vinyasa Flow, Dance Fusion Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Musical Flow, Movement Meditation. WAIT, SAY WHAT?

At our new Balance studio, we offer all of these classes & more. Yet, we understand that they might seem a little confusing. Lets start with the basics. What exactly is yoga?

“A Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.”

In the world of yoga classes, it seems there are about a million different styles with the list of classes going on and on, but what do these classes actually mean? Well, you are in a luck. We have a break down below that will have you running to try these amazing yoga classes in seconds.

  • Vinyasa Flow: Are you ready for this? Well, NFL & NHL teams are actually started to incorporate this class into their workouts. Crazy right? That is great for YOU because you can take one of these classes that the pro athletes are taking! So, what exactly is it? First thing is first, expect to sweat. Bring a towel and a water. Actually, make that three towels, you will be dripping by the end of it. Anyway, this class is designed a series of flowing, alignment-based postures that will build strength, flexibility and focus. Vinyasa yoga, in which movement is synchronized to the breath, is a term that covers a broad range of yoga classes. This style is sometimes also called flow yoga, because of the smooth way that the poses run together and become like a dance. By linking each posture with purposeful breath, students will gain a deeper understanding of the mind and body connection, finding a deep feeling of relaxation and confidence. However, this is a EXTREMELY physical yoga, so buy some muscle rub just in case. 
  • Dance Yoga Fusion: Some yoga stances with some dancing in between? No, this class is much more than that. This class will ignite the rhythms within, stimulate the senses and create openness.  Dance Yoga Fusion is the celebration of movement and life. In this party atmosphere you will leave feeling looser, longer, lighter and stronger. What sounds like a better than a workout and relaxation combined?
  • Hatha Yoga: Okay, so you maybe won’t sweat as much in this yoga class as the others, but will leave you feeling longer, looser, and more relaxed. Honestly, what is better than that after a stressful day? The Breakdown: Hatha yoga is a generic term that refers to any type of yoga that teaches physical postures, and is the most practiced yoga today. This yoga uses postures (asana) and conscious breathing (Pranayama) in combination with mental focus to develop awareness, strength and flexibility, and relaxation. This class involves isometicric/resistance stretching to fully flex muscles, and movements which flow from one pose to the other. Re-align the body and focus the mind during the busy day to day lives we live.
  • Meditation: Lets be real, when some people think of meditation they think of sitting there with their eyes closed and counting to ten. It is MUCH more than that. It is there to reignite your soul.  A meditation class is geared to individuals who wish to gain better proprioception and kinesthetic sense. Much like the guided improvisation class, students will have the ability to experience their own movement in a calm and nurturing environment. Accessing certain muscles groups through touch and soft, isolated movements will encourage this, as will learning to understand the energy levels needed to support these body decisions. Don’t be afraid. You can try it in your own home, but most importantly at a class, as well!

Visit our Balance at Urbanity Class schedule HERE for dates & times.

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Balance at Urbanity Dance
111 W Concord St
Boston, MA 02118
balance@urbanitydance.org

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How Important Yoga is for KIDS

Yoga. Children. Balance at Urbanity.

Looking for an activity to keep your child active during the summer? Well, Urbanity is the place.  Besides our summer camps offered for the summer, we have an amazing new space dedicated to wellness and movement: Balance at Urbanity Dance. 

It may not seem like it, but our children live in a busy world just as parents do. With summer break approaching, they need a place to de-stress. Yoga is the perfect answer.

Shout out to Tammy Donohue at the Carriage House Day Care in Cranston, RI who has been teaching her kindergarteners lessons in YOGA & PHILOSOPHY in between typical lessons in reading, writing, and arithmetic!

“I wanted to find something that could highlight their critical thinking piece because they’re deep thinkers,” said Tammy Donohue said.

Here at Balance at Urbanity we are beyond impressed. We invite you AND your children to try out our variety of yoga classes offered, even try making it a family activity!Check out the article here and the video below!

By: Cayley Christoforou

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Are you ready to reenergize your soul at our new Balance Studio?

Nourish your body, nurture your soul with Urbanity Dance. 

Are you ready for Hatha Yoga, Barre, Musical Flow, Manic Vinyas, Improv , Rockin’ Align N’ Flow, and Weekend Warrior? Wait, say what? Well, these are all classes offered at our new Balance at Urbanity Dance space right at 111. W. Concord Street., just a short walk down  leap across for the Urbanity home studio.

Here at Urbanity we get it: life is stressful. That’s why Balance is the place for you whether it is too take a break from your long day or a weekend activity. We offer much variety, however we are all about filling the space with classes and workshops that YOU are all about. Do have a class suggestion? Well, fill out this survey we here to hear how we can focus on your wellness and the spiritual, creative potential of the body in motion. 

Previously,  the home of South End Yoga, Balance at Urbanity Dance will continue the yogic tradition and provide an Urbanitarian twist on wellness through our diverse classes with AMAZING instructors. FYI check out their incredible bios. Besides our unique classes, Balance will be offering private lessons with TWO private instructors. One with degrees and certifications in Exercise Science & the other being a Ballroom instructor ready for those big movements during your first dance and many more.

Our GRAND OPENING RECEPTION is June 21st 3-5PM. Come meet our lovely instructors and staff, enjoy some snacks and beverages, and introduce yourself to the Balance Community!

Check out our full website HERE!

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By: Cayley Christoforou

Urbanity Dance

My Journey as a Junior Apprentice: Dani Robbins

When asked to think about my experience with Urbanity as a whole over the past two years, I have to admit that I tear up a bit.

The emotions are a product of my realization that I’m graduating from high school in just over a month and also that these are my last few days training and performing with Urbanity as a Junior Apprentice.

I can remember my 15 year old self sitting at my kitchen counter, staring at the gorgeous picture of a company dancer on the open audition call for Urbanity’s first summer intensive and thinking, “What if I made it?” I knew that this was my chance to dance my way out of my small town and perhaps make something more of myself as a dancer, so I auditioned and attended the summer intensive. After that, I joined Urbanity as a Junior Apprentice to the company, an enormous adventure that I will forever be grateful for. Little did I know that Urbanity would not only bring out the best in me as a dancer, but also as a choreographer, a teacher,  a friend, and a member of a caring community.

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My adventures with Urbanity have taught me a multitude of things. Here’s a list of just a few lessons learned:

  1. As a performer, you have to roll with whatever you are given and make the best of it. After dancing in theaters, parks, streets, harbors and on pop-up stages, I know that part of being a professional is going with it in the moment, no matter the situation, which is a priceless lesson.
  2.  If you want to really learn how to dance from a joyful place, ask a 2 year old. My experience this year as a teacher in Urbanity’s school has reminded me of why I started dancing in the first place, and the absolute wonder and imagination that is at the center of it all.
  3. Art is for everyone, no matter what your past is. Working as a volunteer in juvenile detention facilities through Urbanity’s Movement Mends program has shown me that everyone can be healed by movement. Seeing the daily lives of incarcerated youth be changed by a creative outlet has proven to me the power of dance.
  4. Access to the arts can be pivotal in the lives of children, teens, and young adults. Having the experience of training with a professional company as a young adult has given me direction in my own life, as I plan to study dance in college. But even for kids who don’t plan to pursue the arts professionally, having a creative outlet and an affirmative community to surround themselves in is so incredibly powerful.

Lessons learned aside, Urbanity has provided a community of friends and mentors that has helped me flourish in my high school years. I will be forever changed by the friendships I have made with so many beautiful people, and I’ll keep these experiences with me always.

Urbanity Dance