As its name implies, Weehawken Creative Arts offers instruction across a spectrum of disciplines, from painting to pottery to performance.
But what the nonprofit is probably best known (and arguably, most loved) for is its dance instruction.
Weehawken’s seasonal productions, choreographed by American Ballet Theatre-certified instructor Natasha Pyeatte, are extravagant, creative, extremely well attended affairs featuring revolving casts so large that friends and family members are asked to ensure that the person they wish to see is actually performing on the day they purchase tickets.
That is how popular these events have become.
In June, Weehawken is raising the bar (or barre) yet again with several special classes taught by dance professionals.
Kevin Gallacher, of New Mexico, who trained at the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, and performed five seasons with the Santa Fe Opera, “has been here before, and danced with Natasha before,” said Weehawken’s programs director Trisha Oakland. Gallacher will be in the San Juans the first three weeks of the month to teach a trio of upper-level intensive Weehawken workshops in Ridgway and at the Montrose Field House, on June 3-7, June 10-13 and June 17-21. The workshops will feature instruction in contemporary ballet and jazz.
“We love him,” Oakland said of Gallacher. “Outside instructors offer something totally new and really exciting — a different teaching style,” she added “It’s fun to bring in a male professional dancer, because it opens young (male) dancers’ eyes and helps them see that it’s totally possible to make a profession of dancing.”
Gallacher has training in staged combat and stunts for television, film and the stage (according to an online biography, he’s a member of The Society of American Fight Directors). In addition to ballet and jazz instruction, he’ll pass along some choreographical know-how to the region’s young thespians.
“He’ll assist director Kathleen O’Mara with her Shakespeare and Gleekers theater camps,” Oakland said.
O’Mara’s “swashbuckling” Shakespeare theater camp goes from June 3-14 at the Sherbino; “The Gleekers” youth and music dance theater workshop takes place June 17-21 in Montrose, and concludes with a song-and-dance performance featuring “contemporary, classic and Broadway hits.” Gallacher will offer choreographic and staged combat assistance with both classes.
Later in June, professional dancer Caroline Richardson will offer a pair of “creative dance” Weehawken workshops on June 17-19 (which is open to ages 10-18) and June 24-26 (for ages 13 and up, including adults).
Both courses take place in Ridgway.
Richardson, a Colorado native, trained at The School of American Ballet at Julliard, at American Ballet Theater II and at The National Ballet School.
“She’s danced at Julliard, and at Ballet Canada. She’s very talented and passionate, and her work is stunning,” Oakland said. “We invite teens and adults to come in and learn modern dance from her.”
For Oakland, Richardson’s appeal as an instructor is more than professional. It is also personal: “My 14-year-old has taken two years of creative dance from Caroline, and I’ve watched her grow into a whole new level of dance and confidence through her work.”
Each of Richardson’s classes will culminate in “small performance pieces,” as Oakland put it, on the Sherbino stage.
As the program coordinator for both Weehawken and the Sherbino, Oakland sees a lot of artists’ work, takes in a lot of classes and catches many performances. Even so, she’s continually surprised by the outsized number of highly talented people in this region.
“Isn’t it amazing?” she said. “It’s the same thing at our Sherb Talks,” monthly gatherings where locals present something of interest about their lives, or their travels, at the historic theater.
“You see them around town at Colorado Boy and the post office and it turns out they hold some world record or have done something amazing,” Oakland said. It would be easy to disappear into a life of beauty and privacy in small, rural Ridgway. Instead, “What’s surprising,” Oakland said, “is that is that there are so many people at this level who want to share their stories and their talents.”
For a complete list of Weehawken Creative Arts’ classes, go to weehawkenarts.org.