The Bodiography Center for Movement presents its annual Spring Concert as a way to provide its students — some as young as 6 years old — an opportunity to dance on a professional stage. Bodiography founding director Maria Caruso believes it also demonstrates how much dancers' skills evolve, showing the progression from beginners to older, more experienced college preparatory students.
But, as Caruso points out, Bodiography students advance based on merit and talent, not age.
“You might see eighth graders who look like they could be dancing with professional ballet companies,” says Caruso. “We never hold back a child’s potential.”
Overall, though, the Bodiography Spring Concert — taking place on Sat. June 1 at the Byham Theater — will show off the conservatory’s up-and-coming star dancers performing a variety of classical and contemporary works. Choreographed by Bodiography faculty, the night’s program includes acts from famous ballets, routines for jazz or modern dance, and contemporary ballet.
The show also includes several performances by returning Bodiography alum who have gone on to careers in dance or the arts.
Done in collaboration with La Roche College’s dance program, Caruso touts Bodiography as “truly an institute for dance education” that takes more of an academic approach. Part of that includes teaching dance as a language, both literally and figuratively. Starting from age six, students are taught French ballet terms and translations, along with learning the actual movements. As they grow older, students can advance to the La Roche dance program, going on to earn a four-year degree in the field.
Bodiography also invites a rotating list of guest artists and companies to interact with students. This year, the center collaborated with the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in New York City, one of the world’s longest running and most celebrated modern dance companies. As a result, the center’s college prep students received free classes with Martha Graham School artists, learning ideas passed down from the woman widely regarded as the mother of modern dance. Graham also has local roots as a native of Allegheny City, what is now known as Pittsburgh's North Side.
The collaboration also produced some recent performances, including Bodiography Contemporary Ballet’s production of “Steps in the Street” — an excerpt from Graham’s larger 1936 work, Chronicle — at the Byham Theater last March.
“I think that this year was really an incredible year to have so many international guest artists, but also to be working with one of the world’s best companies,” says Caruso.