Dance is the featured in several camps in Summer at the Academy, and this year brought a brand new one, created by Norfolk Academy's dance master, Elbert Watson. Called “Raising the Barre,” this two-week dance intensive camp was designed for young dancers from 4th to 9th grades, because they are ready for more intensity of training and volume of choreography, effectively “raising the bar” of their training.
Mr. Watson, a former principal dance with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, taught campers an hour and fifteen minute ballet class every morning, in which they learned three ballet numbers. The young dance campers learned a total of 14 dances in a ten day span, receiving training in a variety of styles from classical ballet to lyrical, hip hop, jazz, African and modern dance. More importantly, Mr. Watson said, the dancers “learned how to change dance idioms with ease. They learned to work together as a team.” Not all choreography was assigned; Mr. Watson gave campers improvisational assignments and allowed them to choreograph on their own.
Mr. Watson also shared how fortunate he felt to have two former members of the Norfolk Academy dance team, Erica Washington '18 and Jasmine Brown '20, as counselors for the camp. “Their assistance was beyond spectacular,” he said.
In the final performance Mr. Watson made sure that every camper had a moment to shine. During the course of the two weeks, he got to know each child's strength and also the areas in which he could help each child improve. He said that many parents shared their surprise at the amount of material their children had learned in such a short time. One parent told him that her daughter learned more in two weeks than she learned in her other studio all year.