The Dance Enthusiast
Day in the Life of Dance: A Conversation with Mira Cook of NYCommunityBallet
By Theo Boguszewski
Published on February 3, 2020
Thanks to NYCommunityBallet, daily ballet class no longer has to be a luxury for professional dancers!
While most dancers warm up before rehearsal, there’s no substitute for a daily technique class, which is an essential part of developing and maintaining strong, limber muscles. It’s one of the great ironies of life as a professional dancer in New York that the opportunity to take regular classes dries up. With a couple of exceptions, very few of the city’s dance companies offer company classes.
Over the years, founder Mira Cook has been fortunate to have qualified
teachers approach her. A major success was when Laura Rae Bernasconi,
a favorite ballet teacher at Peridance, reached out to be part of the
initiative. Cook has used a grassroots social media approach to boost
awareness. While attendance has grown continuously, most classes
fortunately still have room for new students.
So what can you expect from an NYCommunityBallet class?
Each one is different depending on who is teaching, but there is an
emphasis on treating participants like adults. Most teachers will offer
general feedback without singling anyone out extensively. With a
mission of taking the stiffness out of ballet class, many teachers use
their own music, so you could find yourself doing tendus to Billy Joel
or petit allégro to Dolly Parton.
In terms of keeping class at a certain caliber, Cook finds that students tend to self-select. “We originally billed it as ‘intermediate-advanced,’ but we had some beginners show up, so we changed it to ‘advanced,’" she explains.
Most classes take place at the Battery Dance studios (380 Broadway), but in the past, NYCommunityBallet has had a residency at Brooklyn Studios for Dance, and they have an upcoming residency at Gibney.
Michelle Thompson Ulerich teaches class at Battery Dance
Making ballet class accessible and affordable:
By Kathryn Boland
Published in July 2019
In 2015, Mira Cook, like anyone facing a problem, could either live with
it or take charge with a solution. Since moving to New York City in 2010,
she was having trouble maintaining daily warm-up classes. She was finding
classes significantly more expensive than they were in San Francisco,
from where she moved. It was also time-consuming to travel to locations
where many classes are held. She also realized that she wanted to be
teaching more. After talking to some dance friends and colleagues and
hearing that they were in the same boat, she decided to start a program
wherein they’d teach one another for a $5 class charge.
Thus, she took the latter option — to, instead of continuing to deal with the
problem, take action to solve it. Cook shares that a similar program in Austin,
and NYC’s The Playground (for contemporary), were inspirations for her. The
original mission of the program was to “provide an affordable and convenient
ballet class for professional dancers,” and that’s for the most part continued
through to today, Cook says. A big part of that is having a way to warm up
before rehearsals or auditions, she explains.
The community involved with these programs has steadily grown.....
NYCommunityBallet opened up its advanced ballet classes, taught by a rotating list of pros, to the public via Zoom. This week's schedule includes Bethany Mitchell, Michelle Thompson Ulerich and Tyler Schnese. You can check out the full month's listing here.
Where: Zoom. Email nycommunityballet@gmail for details.
When: Tuesday, March 17 and Friday, March 30 from 10:30 am-12 pm EST, and Saturday, March 21 from 2-4 pm