“Keep it up. Don’t quit,” Megan Rulewicz tells her students inthe Ballet II class that meets twice a week at the UTSA Recreation Center.
The course teaches students with a dance background the basictechniques of ballet. Rulewicz adheres to the classical method of teachingwhile maintaining a relaxed environment. Although the class is filled withlaughs, praise and encouragement, ballet is not easy.
As students twist their bodies into unnatural positions whilemaintaining grace, it is clear that ballet is more than a dance form. Ballet isnot just performing these difficult techniques, but looking light and gracefulwhile doing so.
The Ballet II course, which is an hour and 15 minutes, isdivided evenly between barre work and center floor. Students use the barre, awooden beam, to learn balance and then apply these skills in the center.
“My favorite thing about ballet is probably the emphasis onbalance. Being able to balance not only helps in ballet, but other genres ofdance and even activities outside of dance like football, soccer and othersports that require balance,” says Rudolph Custodio, a student in the Ballet IIcourse.
Custodio, who pulled his hamstring auditioning for thetelevision show “So You Think You Can Dance,” is an experienced dancer in theclass.
“I feel like I’m missing out on an opportunity to fine tune mytechnique every time I sit out in class. It’s difficult not to be able todance, but it gives you a chance to observe the class from a straight-visualmanner, giving you a good chance of really absorbing what you’re being taughtclass,” he says.
Interior design major Deanna Rivers has been dancing since shewas three years old and she found that the class has helped her after she tooksome time off from dancing.
“I took a year break and I didn’t know where I could dance. I’mgetting back into it and making sure I’m hitting all the positions,” Riverssays.
Rulewicz, who has a bachelor’s degree in dance and an MFA inballet choreography and teaching, likes teaching dance at UTSA because of thediversity of the students.
“I love all the different students that I have. Some of themhave taken flamenco dancing or jazz or hip-hop and some have had no danceexperience. I like being able to work with people from various differentbackgrounds,” Rulewicz says.
UTSA student Kamilah Avery, who had no ballet experience beforetaking ballet at UTSA says, “I’ve always loved to dance. I just wanted to gainmore technique.”
Thecourse not only offers exercise, improved balance and posture, but also alesson in French. The final for the course is the French terminology of all theskills and a demonstration of each skill. Rulewicz spends time making sure eachstudent understands the skills and can perform them correctly. “I expect hardwork and an open mind,” she says.
“She’s very honest,which is the only way you’ll get better. She’s positive, uplifting and she’sinfluenced my dancing by just always giving me pointers when needed,” saysAvery.
Interest in the course has increased as more students at UTSAbecome aware that ballet is offered. “It has started to fill up fast,” Rulewiczsays. With a growing interest in dance courses at UTSA, there may be interestin a dance program.
For students interested in enrolling, no previous danceexperience is needed. Students enrolled in a ballet course do not have to weara uniform although ballet shoes are required. Students taking a modern dancecourse, such as Jazz, do not need dance shoes.
Rulewicz, who is from San Antonio, came to UTSA with theintention that she may start a dance program. “The opportunity to start up adance program is something I’ve always wanted to do. We’re working onestablishing a dance minor,” Rulewicz says. Rulewicz’s goal is to offer a danceminor and later a BFA in dance. With the establishment of a dance program,student performances are anticipated.