As young girls, Rachel Kerchman (better known as “Kerch” at camp) and I trained together at the Ballet Arts Studio in Beacon, New York. Our summers were spent apart; hers enjoying the life as a Brant Lake camper, and mine vigorously training at either the School of American Ballet in New York City, Miami City Ballet or the San Francisco Ballet. While maintaining our close friendship through care packages and letters, our life paths became very different. Kerch went on to study math education, and I left New York to take my first professional job at the State Street Ballet in Santa Barbara. Kerch’s passion was not only in math, but in the well-being of these young girls who came summer after summer to Brant Lake Dance Camp. After years of listening to Rachel rave about the wonders of this beautiful place, she invited me to be a guest teacher. I happily accepted.
This June will be my third year teaching in the picturesque dance studios up in the woods of Brant Lake. After nine years of dancing for the Smuin Ballet in bustling San Francisco, Brant Lake has become my summer oasis where I can share my twelve years of experience as a professional dancer with these energized young women. With my strong ballet background, I’ve enjoyed teaching the girls the more contemporary repertoire that I have learned and performed throughout the years. The campers in all three dance levels are learning works from world renowned choreographers: works that I’ve dreamt of dancing ever since I began ballet. Sharing the studio space with these fun and talented young ladies has been an honor and a privilege. I am really looking forward to coming back, taking in the fresh pine air, and hearing all of the laughter as the girls walk down to the lake, or to their next meal.
Being in an environment where everyone involved comes together to share their craft is truly inspirational. As a dancer, we use movement to motivate people, to provide comfort, hope and joy to those surrounding us. These summers at Brant Lake Dance Camp are special because I watch the girls develop a newfound confidence through dance, I watch them take artistic risks, and I watch them discover new ways of interpreting the music. After the class, the students are smiling, gladly drenched in sweat as they walk out of the studio onto another wonderful activity provided at the camp.
One of the very unique opportunities that Brant Lake Dance offers to the girls is the chance to choreograph for their peers. I also love how the campers and teachers share meals. This time allows for us to get to know the each other on a personal level. Each teacher, whether in tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop, or contemporary is around to mentor, support, and lend an ear for them through their creation process. For these young women to be able to have the chance to stand in front of the room and explore what their new friends can do is incredibly special. Brant Lake Dance Camp is a place where you not only gain tons of knowledge, but you meet lifelong friends along the way.
Looking forward to dancing with you all this summer,