'Ballerina boot camp'

July 17, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - For accomplished dancer, choreographer and instructor Yvonne Salcedo Williams, her career is not a job - it's her passion.

"I love everything about dance," says Salcedo Williams, who recently moved to Berkeley Springs from Jacksonville, Fla., where she founded Arts Triumphant Dance Theatre with her husband, Colin Williams. "Dance to me is a universal language. It is a passionate art form that breaks barriers in every sense."

And the wild beauty of her husband's hometown has awakened in Salcedo Williams a new creative energy that she hopes to share with dance enthusiasts this month during a two-week dance workshop and recital at Coolfont Resort.


"It seems like the earth is singing and speaking to me. This place is just teeming with creativity - and it awakens the creativity in me in a totally new way," says Salcedo Williams, 42.

Her 11th annual Summer Dance Intensive will be held Monday, July 21, through Friday, Aug. 1. Classical ballet, jazz, hip-hop, modern dance and other classes are open to dance enthusiasts of all ability levels. The cost is $10 per class or $250 per week.

"This is not just ballerina bun-heads," Salcedo Williams says with a laugh. "It's like ballerina boot camp."

All classes - which will be held from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily - will start with "Balletsport," a sculpting warm-up that Salcedo Williams created by combining ballet, yoga and Pilates moves. The instructor also plans to incorporate nature hikes and other outdoor activities into the dance schedule, she says.

Salcedo Williams expects about 40 of her former students from across the country to attend the workshop, which will culminate in a free dance recital for the public at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 1. The recital will include an emotional dance tribute to Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch, who was taken prisoner earlier this year in Iraq and rescued by U.S. forces. The tribute will be a re-staging of a dance Salcedo Williams choreographed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, she says.

"This is a gift. It's very much a portrayal of the hero and what they went through. It's a very dramatic piece," Salcedo Williams says.

The Bogota, Columbia, native began training with Marie Hale of Ballet Florida at age 10. At 16, she earned a prestigious merit scholarship to the National Academy of the Arts in Illinois. Salcedo Williams went on to study with the American Ballet Theatre and Joffrey Ballet. She also danced with the Pittsburgh (Pa.) Ballet Theatre for four years.

She and her husband founded Arts Triumphant Dance Theatre about 10 years ago. In addition to teaching dance, Salcedo Williams travels the globe as a dancer and choreographer.

"Choreography to me has the potential of speaking life and hope. Choreography should move like the music is flowing out of every fiber of the dancer's body," says Salcedo Williams, who has choreographed full-length productions in Florida, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, the Netherlands and Israel.

But Berkeley Springs is shaping up as home.

Colin Williams is in the process of building a home and the Arts Triumphant Dance Theatre studio and school on 18 acres that the couple purchased this year. Salcedo Williams hopes the tranquil spot will grow into a retreat for other artists, she says.

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