Here's a video the wonderful Moe Brody made to give a better understanding of what Harbour's Intensive Training Program is!
To further explain, here's a little tid-bit from the website about what ITP is:
HDC’s Intensive Training Programme (ITP) consists of 20 to 25 hours a week in dance, voice, performance and other dance related studies. The directors and participants work closely together and after careful evaluation the directors customize the participants training program and guide them throughout the program.
Acceptance into the program is by audition only. To be eligible for the program, students must be at least 17 years of age and dancing at an intermediate level or higher in jazz and ballet. They must have finished High School.
I am no expert at tap. I have been dancing for 17 years and have never felt comfortable with tapping. Trust me; it isn’t the easiest for some of us to get the message from our brain to our feet. Still training in companies, from time to time I find myself in a position where I need to do my best and tackle a tap class. The beginner tap classes at Harbour have really helped me out in more ways than one. I was pretty nervous to take the class because I feel foolish when trying to tap and don’t want to be the odd one out or get frustrated with the fact that I can’t keep up with the teacher and rest of the class. I left the class pleasantly surprised and had really enjoyed myself.
You start the class out in the centre with a warm up. The teacher stands at the front and does steps and you follow along. You start with things such as tapping your feet and rolling your ankles just to get your feet warmed up. Then you begin some basic tap technique such as flaps, flap ball changes and shuffles. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s okay. I had no idea either! Once the warm up is done, you go across the floor. So many of tap steps travel or are in a sequence, so this just allows you more room to move. You do the basic technique steps you just learned in the centre and modify them so they can travel across the floor.
Sometimes they will combine the steps you just learned into a short combination to try out. Finally you learn some easy choreography. This is taught at a good pace and the teacher explains everything really well. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand what to do because the teachers are more than happy to help. Usually they can not only see that you are lost, but they can hear you! haha! You run the routine several times which gives you the opportunity to master the steps and most of the time you don’t get split into groups which can be comforting for some people… I know it was for me!
Taking the class was super intimidating for me but once I actually got there it was a really relaxed and non-threatening environment to be in. You have the opportunity to move at your own pace with comfort and try and figure everything out. The best part about tap- you can practice anywhere! Waiting in line at Starbucks, at the photocopy machine, the bus stop….tap tap tap all the time!
Basic jazz technique is one of the most important parts of jazz and contemporary dancing. Jazz technique comes from the fundamentals of ballet and is adapted to more parallel positions for jazz. Core, shoulders, arms, supporting legs, proper posture- These are all rooted from ballet! For example, a jete in jazz is the same as a jete in ballet; we just to do it to groovier music. The preparation, the take off, the legs… they are all rooted from ballet technique. When the jazz teacher makes you do a jump, they will give you the "coles notes" version of the proper ballet technique associated with that jump. In advanced classes you would be expected to already know the technique behind the steps they are giving you in class, but in beginner classes you can expect to learn the ballet basics to the technical element. In class you get to drill the basic moves either in the center or across the floor working both your right and left sides. Basic moves being kicks, jumps, and turns. Taking this class helps you build, work on, and maintain your basic jazz technique moves and you can bring it along with you into any other class you choose to take. Sometimes the teacher will give you corrections to assist you in doing the moves correctly so that you can only get better and better! Working on those ballet fundamentals in jazz is really fun, especially if you aren’t a ballet music fan. Jazz is way more relaxed. The more you practice the more improvement you will see and this class is the perfect place to do just that- get down to the basics and work at them!
Sexy street jazz is such an awesome class. It’s a class where you get to let loose and have a lot of fun. You get to dance to popular or classic top 40 songs, which always makes the class just that much better. My favourite part about it is it’s a class where you get to dance feminine and- as the name states- sexy. Sexy street jazz is like hip hop, but you don’t have to worry about it being gangster and masculine if you aren’t comfortable with that style. There is always a promise for the dance to be feminine and the classes are a guaranteed good time. Sometimes people wear heels to class- if you are comfortable with this, you can too! Sometimes the combo you learn in class will be what’s called “tourography”. Tourography is dancing like you are a backup dancer for an artist on tour. It’s feel good and crazy fun. There are different levels of sexy street jazz offered at Harbour so make sure you take note of them before taking a class. Most teachers will teach slow and explain everything really well so the overall class isn’t too overwhelming. Sexy street jazz is one of my favourite classes and I highly suggest trying one out!
I remember when I took my first ballet class at Harbour. Actually, this class was a lot of firsts- one of my first ever classes at Harbour, my first week of Harbours Intensive Training Program, and my first ballet class at the studio. I came from a small town studio where we HAD TO wear a leotard, tights, proper ballet slippers, and a perfect bun to ballet class. When I walked into the class at Harbour I was one of very few, if any, people wearing the full ballet ensemble. I was quite pleased to realize that most people were wearing more casual clothes! Not saying that wearing the full ballet outfit is wrong in any way, some people do and that is totally up to you! For ballet, I personally like to wear a leotard with spandex shorts on top, and then some basketball shorts on top of that. For both ballet and jazz you can wear: sweatpants to start, leggings, spandex shorts, looser shorts (such as basketball shorts), a leotard, baggy shirts, tight shirts, or crop tops (though I would not recommend for ballet). Shoes? Socks are the majorities’ choice! I would also recommend a sports bra because trust me, that push up bra doesn’t feel so comfortable when your jumping around in class for an hour and a half. When you look at every level of ballet class, you see so many different body types. So it’s no surprise to see that people are wearing tank tops or t-shirts, sweatpants or shorts. Ballet now is such a fitness trend that most beginners take it for exercise. They do not own, nor do they have to, go out and purchase leotards and tights. Just make sure that when you are picking your clothes for class, that you are capable of a full range of movement in them. If you would like to go with the classic leotard and tights then don’t be shy, but also don’t be afraid to wear what you feel most comfortable in!
What is ballet barre? It is a part of every ballet class offered at Harbour, if not every ballet class you might take, no matter where you are! The barre is where you start at the beginning of every class and it is exactly what it sounds like…. A bar attached to the wall that is there for you to hold onto for support. The barre sort of acts as your male counterpart, as if you were to do a paux de deux (dancing with a male partner in professional ballet). At the barre you do short exercises, each with a different focus. Each focus being a basic move of ballet. You learn and execute both the right and left sides. It is the perfect place to practice your technique or learn the steps if you have never taken a class before. The barre portion of class is your warm up before you go into the centre and have to rely on your own stability! The barre doesn’t only warm up your muscles… it also works them! Just like doing squats at the gym! It is personally my favourite part of the ballet class… it gets you into the right mindset for the class, gets you focused, is a gradual warmup for the entire body and exercises every muscle you may use for the rest of class. At Harbour, if you would like to take just ballet barre, you can sign up for just an hour of the hour and a half class, and leave once barre is over. Sometimes just Ballet barre classes are offered at the studio as well.
I took my first class at Harbour about a year and a half ago. It was a groovin' class and I honestly left it feeling better about the class than I had when I first went in. I had never taken a dance class before but had always watched hip hop online which inspired me to try it out. When looking into classes to take, I was really worried and not sure how I felt about going. I am not good at picking up choreography and when I said this to the receptionist, she mentioned that groovin' might be a better fit for me. When I asked "Groovin'.... what is that?" I was told that it's all the moves that are the fundamentals to hip hop... in other words... actual dancing! There is no "5678" or "1 and a'2". You repeat a movement many times and it eventually becomes relaxed and can turn into something you would do at a club. Earning this knowledge, I decided to give the class a try. When I got there, the class was pretty busy which immediately made me feel more comfortable. I was pleasantly surprised at how much better I felt as the class went on! It was a completely non-intimidating environment.... there were all different ages and levels in the class. There were a lot of other people there that appeared to be in the same position as me and some advanced dancers that were taking the class really inspired me when I realized I could look like that if I kept taking class and practicing. Basically, the class was like Simon Says. The teacher plays music, stands at the front of the class and does moves repetitively and you copy them. Depending on who is teaching the class, some of the teachers will come personally help you figure out a groove if you are struggling with it. They really want you to get the most out of the class. I found the class gave me a good taste of what hip hop is actually like and that it was the perfect way to introduce me to the hip hop world. Groovin' class is really fun, the music is great, and it's awesome exercise. I now take grooving class all the time and have even gotten over my fear of choreography and started taking intro hip hop! I highly recommend Groovin' to anyone who wants to try out a hip class because there is no pressure to remember choreography and it is an overall good time.
Check out a video on Grooving here.
What is Harbour Dance Centre? I have been taking class at Harbour for the past 3 years, and it is literally my home away from home. Harbour is a dance studio in the heart of Vancouver.... it's right in the middle of the action on Granville street. There is an enourmous schedule of classes offering a wide range of styles for all levels of dance. And the best part of it all- they run all day every day... so no matter what your schedule is, you can probably make something work. There is a huge variety of people taking class- first timers, people there for some exercise, people there for fun, because they love it, because it's their profession. There is something for everyone. No one is ever too old or inexperienced. As soon as you walk in, you feel the friendly and welcoming environment- from the dancers to the teachers and staff, to the studio itself. You feel at home in no time. Speaking of the teachers, Harbour has an amazing faculty. The teachers are there for you.... they want you to do your best and take the absolute most you can from the class. Their aim is to inspire you, push your limits, and give you the best overall experience they can provide. I have fallen in love with Harbour and the people that come along with it. I highly reccomend this studio and encourage you to come sweat it out at Harbour Dance Centre.