This week, about 36 dancers at the Lafayette Dance Academy are getting a taste of “big city” styles from guest instructors from the Atlanta area.
Lafayette Dance Academy artistic director Amy Orr said the weeklong workshop provides inspiration and motivation for young dancers as the LDA prepares to start its dance year. Having the guest teachers always gives students a different perspective than what they’re used to, plus the instructors’ experience can help expose the dance students to new takes on their usual techniques and styles.
Pedro Gamino and wife Abigail “Abi” Tan-Gamino are respectively current and former members of the Atlanta Ballet Company. Tan-Gamino said Orr, who previously danced for Atlanta Ballet, reached out to them by Facebook, asking them to come and teach for the weeklong program.
“We were excited because we know how talented these students are,” Tan-Gamino said.
Teaching isn’t new to the husband-and-wife team. Tan-Gamino instructed in her home country of the Philippines before coming to the United States. Gamino is originally from San Francisco and has been in four ballet companies. After leaving the Philippines, Tan-Gamino came to American Repertory Ballet Company in New Jersey, where she met her husband, and they both came to Atlanta Ballet Company, where they both have instructed.
“One joy about any teaching experience is trying to show you’re knowledge of what you’ve learned from your teachers and sharing your own techniques with it,” Gamino said.
“It’s a different sort of fulfillment as dancers and teachers,” added Tan-Gamino. “You’re showing what you’ve learned through artistry and you share that.”
Gamino said coming to LaGrange has been fun and students have been very eager to learn what they have to teach.
Another husband-and-wife team, Beau and Kristin Foister are opening studio Dance Tech and Talent in Kennesaw in the fall. Kristin Foister has choreographed and danced in commercials, and choreographed shows for Six Flags over Georgia, and the opening and half time of the Chick-fil-a Bowl. Beau Foister has choreographed for The Georgia Ballet, Miss Georgia Scholarship Pageant, Albany Ballet Theater, Third Edition Color Guard, Stevenson High School Competitive Pom Team and was an assistant for USA Cheers in the Chick-fil-a Bowl.
This is the sixth year Kristin Foister has come to teach the students at LDA. They bring different styles to the students, focusing on jazz and contemporary, compared to the academy’s focus on ballet.
“It’s great to bring new things in, different techniques,” said Beau Foister. “… We just like to add our personal touch.”
The Foisters said they enjoy coming to LaGrange, citing the restaurants and work on downtown over the years as attractions.
“We enjoy coming down here,” Kristin Foister said. “The kids are well-trained, respectful; they’re excited about learning. So we enjoy this, although it is long and tiring for us and the kids. That’s we call it intensive, correct?”
“Correct,” replied her husband.
The week will wrap up Friday with an hour-long demonstration of what the students have learned. Dancers will then audition Saturday for a place in the company, where the four teachers will serve as judges.
Orr said she wants the workshop to help students take away a “bigger picture” of dance and reminder of the robust performing arts available relatively close by, in Atlanta.
“It’s a great that these artists are just up the road,” Orr said. “… And it reminds the kids that the performing arts in LaGrange is alive and well as guest teachers can come in and teach them, and the dancers here have a good foundation and training to work with this guest faculty. So they know they’re receiving the training and they can go anywhere and perform if they wish to.”