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Summer Students Attend Dance Camp

NYC professionals lend talents to inspire aspiring dancers.

Wondering the raison d'être young dancers are spending their summer under the tutelage of choreographer Lydia Johnson, the founder and artistic director of ?

Look no farther than the stage of the Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts in Maplewood, where professional dancers are rehearsing an excerpt of Johnson’s “Summer House,” a new work that premiered in New York City at the Peridance Theater.

The professional dancers have been sharing their talents this summer with aspiring dancers. Many of the students are attending on scholarships thanks to generous donations from Friends of Lydia Johnson Dance. The LJD Dance Camp is held every summer for kids and teens ages 6-high school at all skill levels.

“The students have been improving technically by leaps and bounds and they have delved into the architecture and emotional resonance of the art of choreography to an astonishing degree,” Johnson said.

At Dance Camp on Monday, guest artists Reed Luplau and Laura DiOrio performed the excerpt from LJD's repertory, then talked about the dance with students after the showing. Students asked intelligent questions concerning the technical elements of the piece as well as the choreographic structure.

Luplau, who dances as a guest artist with Lydia Johnson Dance and is teaching ballet at dance camp this week, is a member of the world renowned Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. In 2009, he won the Australian Dance Award for Most Outstanding Male Dancer. DiOrio is a member of Lydia Johnson Dance and also performs with other New York companies. Both took time out of their intense New York schedules to perform at the LJD Dance Camp. The camp includes many such events and has a unique interchange occurring between professionals and students.

Lydia Johnson Dance has been consistently praised for its distinctive choreography, with reviews in The New York Times, Backstage, Oberon's Grove, Dance Stuff New York and The New Yorker. It is the choreography component of the camp that attracts many of its students.

“Her works resonate with a direct emotional link to the music and with an expansive view of the human condition, whether they be intimate domestic dramas, or reflections of the rites of community, or simply abstract visions of the sheer joy of the human body in motion,” says a recent review in Oberon’s Grove.

Instruction includes Ballet, Contemporary and Hip Hop. Dancers from the Columbia High School Special Dance Company are among the teens assisting this summer.

LJD believes that technique is best learned as children use their creative energy to compose their own dance works. The process was just beginning as students began work on choreographing their own pieces.

Sherrell Bush, the camp's assistant director, was working with one group, teaching a young dancer the proper position for a lift. Johnson addressed her remarks to older dancers. "You can use your shapes to move you across the floor," she said.

Lydia Johnson Dance has been seen in regular NYC season for 12 years and is also the Company-in-Residence at the South Orange Performing Arts Center.

The fall semester for and those who just love to move includes dance classes in Ballet, Contemporary and Hip Hop and all classes are held at The Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts in Maplewood Village. 

Classes begins in September. More information is available here.

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