Katie Clancy Takes Class and Writes About It
Katie Clancy for The Dance Enthusiast
Photo of Stephanie Liapis courtesy Katie Clancy
The Class: Stephanie Liapis- Intermediate/Advanced and Intermediate Modern Dance
The Location: Dance New Amsterdam
2nd Floor (entrance on Chambers)
The Days and Times:
Intermediate/ Advanced Tuesday and Thursday at 10 am
Intermediate Saturday at 11am
The Cost: non-members 8.00, members 6.00
What Katie Has To Say:
"Relax your face, open your forehead. Let your personal artistic qualities to shine through." Stephanie Liapis--a former Doug Varone, Met Ballet, and nicholasleichterdance dancer--is a quick footed, bright-eyed reminder of power and grace.
Sweating in her advanced morning class at DNA, I realize my jaw is tense and my eyes are bugging into the mirror. I don’t sense the fifteen other dancers in the room. I am sweating in concentration and we are only on the first combination.
We work through fluid progressions awakening our energetic connections in plies, tendus, asanas, and abdominal -work. Quality, not quantity, is emphasized: we take time to reflect upon and repeat long and dynamically distinct phrases instead of moving through a dozen combinations quickly. Liapis’s style is quirky--ballet tinged with contemporary modern, release-technique, and essentially no floor work.
I am attracted to this class because of my love for contemporary ballet and intense physicality --Throw me into a Streb or Petronio phrase and I'll push my body to devour each movement. But Liapis reminds us that there is much beyond athletic prowess.
"Tension, especially in the upper torso, makes it harder express. Find the ease in the movement. When you relax, it will be easier," she says during a jumping phrase jam-packed with turns, glides, and weight transfers.
I allow the breath to expand my body. I commit to finding my balance and pushing the limits of how deeply I can shift my weight in lunges. While we work to increase our bodies' strength, tone, and endurance, it is just as important to practice heightening our sensitivity and expression. The ability to sense our surroundings, along with our supple spines, will make us multi-dimensional and compassionate dancers.
The class ends with a phrase danced to Management’s “Kids”, tying in all the work from the previous hour an a half. We eat up space and increase our speed, working to articulate the expression of our torso. I breathe deeply to slow down my heart rate and maintain focus through the challenging nuances.
While Liapis’s weekday class forces you to work with intensity, the intermediate weekend class is more relaxed- a lazy Saturday-morning-stroll. Both levels offer excellent warm-ups for a day of rehearsing or performing.