This week marks the last run of classes at the Houston Metropolitan Dance Center's 1202 Calumet address. The company is moving to its new residence at 2808 Caroline, and the studios will be christened with free dance classes at the center's open houses on June 1 and 2. Every dancer loves new marley floors and air conditioned space, but it's still sad to say good-bye to the place where so many people learned to dance.
My own personal history with the Met began almost two years ago. After taking a summer modern dance course at Houston Community College, I began performing with the school's African Dance and Drum Ensemble directed by Julie Bata, who also happened to be the instructor of that summer modern session. African was great, but my body missed those triplet sequences, leg swings, Limón falls, inversions and spiral twists that I had started to train with on a daily basis. A quick online search for adult modern classes brought me to the Met, and there I found Studio A.
Classes at the Met were my first experience with dance lessons outside of a community college environment. The large size of the studio, which seemed enormous on nights when the class numbered only a handful, was an intimidating factor, but those initial feelings of trepidation soon gave way to feelings of familiarity. Something about that worn wood flooring - not exactly the best conditions for sensitive feet - was comforting, nurturing even.
I suspect that the richness of that floor had nothing to do with its age, but had more to do with the sheer number of feet that had danced over its surface. So much love, so many dreams, so much exertion spent in the act of dance. Even for the casual student, it's hard to not feel a kinship with those who came before them. Studio A also functioned as the company's rehearsal space; the creative energies of so much work was always present, and provided a source of inspiration on those off days when everything from the warm-up to the final combination didn't go as planned.
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Last night was the final open level modern class in Studio A. jhon r. stronks led the ten students, including myself, who came to say goodbye to a beloved part of their dance lives. It was a great class, one that frustrated my limited ability with directional changes, but one that reminded me why I continued to take modern. As I write this, I'm doing my best to keep that final sauté arabesque sequence in my head. It's one that I want to keep with me, my own personal token from all that I learned on Calumet Street.
Yes, the studio could be exceedingly hot in the summer and unbearably cold in the winter, but there was space to move, a wall of mirrors and wonderful accompaniment by Robert, resident percussionist for the modern classes. During those weeks when I knew I needed just one more class than what I was getting at HCC, that splendid combination was more than sufficient. But there's always room to grow, and that's exactly what the Met is doing. New marley means new memories, and I'm looking forward to the adventures to come.
Goodbye Studio A, and thank you.