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Inside Perspectives:
Conversations with Roberta


Yvette Campbell
Director, The Ailey Extension
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
The Joan Weill Center for Dance
405 West 55th Street
NY, NY 10019
212.405.9017
www.alvinailey.org

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 11, 2005
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com


This is a conversation with Yvette Campbell, Director of The Ailey Extension, in her office at the exquisite and new Joan Weill Center for Dance on Ninth Avenue and 55th Street, NYC. I was fortunate to have participated in several classes at The Ailey Extension, including one class each of Intro to Horton, Beginner (Tracy Inman) and Afro-Caribbean, Beginner (Richard Gonzalez), as well as three classes of Pilates Mat, Open (Jon Urla). All classes were challenging, attentive, and quite different in genre. Thanks to Megan Fortunato in the Ailey PR Department and Yvette Campbell in The Ailey Extension (a public program for people of all ages, physical fitness, and skills), I was welcomed into this grand, new dance space, a tribute to the legendary Modern Dance Pioneer, Alvin Ailey, with enthusiasm and expertise. I found all three dance and fitness classes, with live (Afro-Caribbean) or recorded (Pilates) music, to be energizing and exhilarating. A steady dedication to a short-term or, better, long-term series of classes, all open to the public and very affordable and accessible, would be stress-reducing and body-enhancing. Call 212.405.9017 and ask for Yvette Campbell, Director of The Ailey Extension. Yvette Campbell is the subject of this Inside Perspective.

REZ - Tell me about your background.

YC - I came to the Alvin Ailey School in 1990 as a scholarship student. I also danced with Elisa Monte Company for five years. When I retired from dance, I moved to London, but, the same year, 2004, I was invited to return to NY to head The Ailey Extension, to develop techniques and classes.

REZ - What are some high points of The Ailey Extension?

YC - There are 35 classes, Monday-Saturday, and Sandra Cameron and her ballroom dance studio teaches several ballroom classes, including Argentine Tango. We also have OM Yoga, Yogilates, Afro-Caribbean (See Photos Below), and Introduction to Horton Technique (which this writer had long ago studied in college). In OM Yoga, you get meditation and a calm mind. We get beautiful light in all studios, with a restored courtyard and large windows. There's a wonderful sense of peace through the windows. In Pilates and Yogilates, you can sculpt your body and gain core strength.

REZ - What is the concept of The Ailey Extension?

YC - This is a full-year program, with just two weeks off, at the end of August, and then again between Christmas and New Year's. We started this program with eight classes, and now we're up to about fifteen in two and one-half months. We believe that dance is for everybody. We want people to feel welcome and inspired. Our youngest Ailey Extension student is sixteen and the oldest is over eighty-five (in Pilates). We also have a Children's Program here.

REZ - What does the Ailey Extension student community have to look forward to?

YC - In the fall, we have two new workshops in OM Yoga and Meditation, two hours, two times/week. We'll have Yogilates three times/week, as well.

REZ - How do these classes differ from those in a gym?

YC - The spaces are different, with huge, wooden, sprung floors, floor-ceiling windows, a light airy feeling, and a sense of the history of the Company, with Horton technique (and photos of Alvin Ailey, Judith Jamison, and the Company throughout). There's no membership, no annual fee. The Ailey Extension offers only beginner and intermediate classes, with no intimidating factor. You can take classes anytime in any sequence. However, the ballroom classes are best taken by the month, so you can practice together.

REZ - What's the basic goal?

YC - We would like to increase our (Extension) student community by one-third to one-half its current capacity, and we're offering 50% off the first class. I want this building and the heritage of Alvin Ailey to be part of the community.

REZ - Thanks so much.


Yvette Campbell in her Office
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Afro-Caribbean Dance Class
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Afro-Caribbean Dance Class
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Live Percussionists
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Afro-Caribbean Dance Class
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower
 

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net