Local dance studio director, Michele Xiques of First State Dance Academy (FSDA), was invited to train ice skaters at the University of Delaware Fred Rust Ice Arena. Philip Dulebohn, American pair skater who won the gold medal at the 2003 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, welcomed Xiques in an attempt to teach his students the benefits of learning the art of ballet.
“It was a lot of fun bringing students together to collaborate and cross train with other forms of art,” stated Xiques. “It was neat to see two different types of artists get together and help each other.”
For the second year in a row choreographer Michele Xiques has been recognized by the Delaware Division of the Arts (DDA) as this year she received the Emerging Fellowship Award in the Dance-Choreography discipline. Xiques, who took over the existing business over ten years ago from Maria Fry, runs the Academy which welcomes roughly 130 adult and children dancers each year.
During the week long ice skating camp that was held in Newark, DE, FSDA students including Katie Fields of Seaford, Owen Lawson of Milton, and Taylor Hogan of Milford assisted in the training process of aspiring ice skaters and adults. Skaters were instructed on what Xiques calls two important, basic movements of ballet, how to point their feet and turn out.
“The skaters were taught flexibility, how to hold their arms, move from one arm to the other and how to separate the movement of their feet from the movement of their arms,” stated Xiques. “
After the ice skating students learned ballet, it was time for Xiques and her students to try their own movements on the ice alongside the aspiring skaters. “It is extremely hard and I gained a greater respect for what they do,” said Xiques. “Even my dancers appreciated how much talent it takes just to be on skates.”
Michele acknowledges that both mediums of art have several common threads throughout. “They both take a lot of dedication, hard work and training,” said Xiques. “It is the same type of discipline and I believe we brought the two closer together.”
Michele will return to the University of Delaware Fred Rust Ice Arena this year to work with Philip Dulebohn and looks forward to incorporating ballet in several other local sports. In the near future, she hopes to begin working on a partnership between the First State Dance Academy and the Milford School Distinct to enroll athletes such as football, soccer and baseball players in ballet classes.
“I really feel we can draw a broader audience into the ballet studio,” commented Xiques. “Not only can dance turn into a great profession but it teaches students etiquette, poise, discipline and confidence.”