Hinsdale dance school mixes it up
Jennifer Grapes shows student Sarah Pinto proper hand and arm placement. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
More about Jennifer Grapes
Where she grew up: Kansas City, Mo.
Favorite role she danced: Odette/Odile in Swan Lake
Favorite ballet company to see: American Ballet Theatre in New York
Ballerinas whose performances inspired her: Cynthia Gregory and Natalia Makarova
Favorite male dancer: Mikhail Baryshnikov, though she never saw him dance in person, “His energy and his charisma transferred to video and you can still feel the electricity of his performance, which is rare.”
Favorite dance movie: “The Turning Point”
Updated: December 31, 2012 5:41PM
HINSDALE — Jennifer Grapes knows how to attract adult students to her new dance school in Hinsdale, with classes named “Let’s meet at the barre.”
That’s “barre,” as in the handrail on the wall of a dance studio where ballet dancers exercise and warm up. But the pun is not too far off. The class is held from 9 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. Friday, “after you put the kids to bed,” Grapes said. And she hopes to include wine tastings after the class.
Grapes is co-owner and director of the Hinsdale Dance Academy, which opened this week at 414 Chestnut St.
The school features ballet classes for children and adults, but also offers lessons in hip hop, jazz, tap and contemporary dance.
Grapes retired from the Milwaukee Ballet after a 13-year career as a ballerina with several dance companies, including the Albany Berkshire Ballet in Albany, New York and the Dayton Ballet in Ohio.
Her final performance, however, and her favorite role was dancing the dual role of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake with the Montgomery Ballet in Alabama in February.
“It’s so incredibly difficult” to dance both the White Swan and Black Swan parts, “but incredibly rewarding,” Grapes said. “I wanted to go out with a bang.”
Classes are scheduled in eight-week sessions, and last an hour for children 8 and under, with no more than 10 children at a time. Classes for advanced students and pre-professionals run about 1.5 hours and are limited to 15 or fewer students.
In July, students will perform a dance recital. Grapes wants to give her students opportunities to perform with costumes and lights similar to a professional production.
Grapes had those opportunities when she was a student and believes the poise and confidence she gained helped her “stay ahead of the game” in her professional career.
The Hinsdale Dance Academy also will offer an advanced ballet partnering class. When young dancers move on and join a dance company, they often perform a pas de deux with a male partner. If they don’t have experience with those techniques, “it’s sort of a hindrance to them,” Grapes said. “Partnering is a skill you really need to have.”
Former male colleagues of Grapes will join her advanced classes to practice lifts, finger pirouettes, whip turns and promenades with the students.
At the other end of the dance spectrum, weekday morning “mommy and me” classes and adult classes for people with no dance experience are scheduled. The adult classes will include stretching and strengthening routines and barre and pilates-inspired exercises.
In the same building as the studio is a store selling leotards, ballet shoes and Gaynor Minden pointe shoes.
For more information, call (630) 484-3241 or look at the website, www.hinsdaledanceacademy.com.