Although the vast space is empty on a Monday afternoon, the broad stage seems to possess an electric atmosphere; as if the place is waiting for the next deafening round of applause.
Starting in September, the Palm theatre stage will be quiet no longer, as it becomes home to a new dance program for local students. Palm Arts, a non-profit organization aligned with the Palm, in conjunction with renowned dance instructor Valerie Madonia of the Ames Conservatory (formerly Telluride Dance Academy), will offer a comprehensive dance program for students in preschool through 12th grade. Classes will start the week of Sept.12.
The Telluride Dance Academy was taken over by the for-profit Ames Conservatory in late 2010, offering dance and theater intensives in the Silver Bell building on Pacific St. A holiday production of The Polar Express at the Palm Theatre last December was the Ames Conservatory’s inaugural performance. Madonia was artistic director for that performance, as well as the conservatory’s spring recital in May.
“Having collaborated with Valerie Madonia and the Dance Academy in the past, this seemed to be a logical partnership,” says the Palm’s Theatre Coordinator Kathy Jepson of the new dance program, which is expected to reach a wider range of students while making the most of Telluride’s state-of-the-art performance center.
As a dancer with the National Ballet of Canada, American Ballet Theatre, and principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet, Madonia brings over 35 years of professional dance experience to the program. She will teach upper level ballet and pointe classes, and serve as the creative and artistic director for the winter performance, and program director for summer intensives.
“I am honored to join Palm Arts as an ambassador of dance in the community,” Madonia said. “Working with the school district and having access to this wonderful stage will allow greater collaborative and educational opportunities.”
In addition to Madonia, Jessica Galbo and Amanda Sturdevant round out the dance program. Galbo has taught dance in Telluride for nine years and recently completed the American Ballet Theatre Teacher Training Intensive, a rigorous program that certifies instructors in the ABT curriculum.
Sturdevant, a Colorado native, studied for ten years at Westin Arts Academy in Fort Collins, and trained in jazz, ballet, modern, lyrical, hip hop, and tap. As a member and soloist of the Westin Dance Ensemble, Sturdevant won several first place awards in regional and national dance competitions, such as the New York City Dance Alliance. In addition to teaching dance in Telluride for over 10 years, Sturdevant has choreographed and modeled for the Telluride AIDS Benefit Fashion Show.
Hosting a dance program within the Palm (which is connected to the Telluride Intermediate School), will help broaden local kids’ access to the arts; an exciting proposition, according to new Telluride School District Superintendent Kyle Schumacher.
“With Palm Arts sponsoring the student dance program, students will be able to attend dance classes in a state-of-the-art facility. The potential for further collaboration between Valerie, her colleagues and the district is exponentially enhanced. Our performing arts department is excited about the possibilities,” says Schumacher.
He adds that the new collaboration could lead to further augmentation of the school district’s curriculum, explaining that by being able to utilize both the Palm space as well as resources like Madonia and local dance teachers, he imagines creating more athletic programs that focus on dance and movement; “that aren’t your typical P.E. classes,” he says.
The complete schedule of dance classes and registration materials will be released by Friday, Aug, 26, on the Palm website, telluridepalm.com. There will also be open registration in the Palm lobby on Monday, Aug. 29 from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Fall classes will run for 10 weeks prior to Thanksgiving break. Following that, there will be a three-week holiday performance session. This schedule gives students the opportunity to be included in the winter recital even if they have already filled their roster of fall activities, or conversely, take the fall class and opt not to do the performance.
For more information visit telluridepalm.com.