Evy Warshawski, The Arts Landscape: Have your own dance party
The Arts Landscape

Evy Warshawski, The Arts Landscape: Have your own dance party

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vCome on let’s twist again,

Like we did last summer!

Yeaah, let’s twist again,

Like we did last year!

Feeling shut in, kind of lazy or just plain “blah” these days?

There’s no time like the “now time” to get up and shake your booty along with Chubby Checker singing his classic hit, “The Twist.” Anyone can do it. Here’s a free link to the man, the music and the lyrics: www.youtube.com/watch?v=eh8eb_ACLl8.

You’ll feel more energized, have some fun, work up a sweat and perhaps be inspired to join a virtual dance class or two while sheltering at home.

Alex Blitstein, artistic director and founder of The Dance House Napa Valley, can guide you with just the right moves. The former competitive gymnast and springboard diver parlayed his athletic, creative talents into a busy career as professional dancer, choreographer and educator.

Blitstein describes himself as having a 75-year-old soul in a 31-year-old body. He lives to dance and dances to earn a living. His pre-COVID-19, frenetic schedule encompassed more than 300 working trips annually with gigs including: serving on the faculty for dance conventions; consulting on shows for Disney, “American Idol” and “Glee”; coaching members of the U.S. figure skating team; and now in year two, as an entrepreneur managing teachers and creating classes at The Dance House (for more than 1,200 registered students – from ages two to 88).

Summer Hanson is one of the 2-year-olds taking classes at the studio (and currently online).

“She loves it,” says mom Devin. “She’s definitely a natural and enjoys seeing her teacher and friends. It also keeps her in the same routine. She wakes up Saturday morning and puts on dance clothes. Being 2, she was nervous to go to class by herself in the beginning, but she has grown so comfortable with her teacher and staff. She would just say ‘bye’ to me and be on her way.”

Running a burgeoning business one day and having to shutter doors the next propelled Blitstein to think out of a physical box and dive into a cyber arena.

“On March 18, we were the first dance studio in this area to announce that we were going 100% virtual,” Blitstein said. “We started a platform named ‘Dance House LIVE’ powered by ZOOM. We now have over 75 classes every week that are completely live and interactive for our students.

“Catering to over 800 families and 16 cities surrounding Napa, this was a total risk but absolutely worth the work. I was able to hold onto all of my instructors and not only do we run our full schedule as it was when we were able to have classes at our facility on Jefferson, but we also continue running private lessons and group rehearsals, which have been incredible.”

“Seeing the kids’ faces light up when they get into their virtual classrooms and having the continued support of our families is something that will keep my staff and me forever motivated.”

Julie Shaw, mother of Haeley, 10 and Madelyn, 7, holds high praise for Blitstein and Dance House LIVE for the classes they are all able to take right now. “It’s been a godsend with this shelter in place,” Shaw said. “I am so thankful for what they have done to make my girls and I feel so special during this time.”

“When I was in high school and growing up, I was a dancer as well as a cheerleader. Alex and his team have set up family dance classes that both my girls and I have participated in. It was so much fun! I did hip hop, and we laughed and had such a blast. It brought me back to the old days, and I find myself looking forward to the next family class. It takes me away from my normal boring workout rut!”

While Blitstein runs 9 miles a day to stay active, he admits that this past month has been the longest period of time he’s been stationary for 10 years. “I don’t want to stand still ever,” he said. “I miss my kids, and can’t wait for the day I can walk back into my studio. Right now, my advice is to always remember when you wanted what you have. We don’t look around enough to realize what we have to be grateful for.”

“A happy body is a happy mind. Find some music, close your eyes, have your own dance party. There are no rules.”

For information on Dance House LIVE classes, visit dancehousenapa.com. Click the “schedule” link for a list of classes and registering information. Once registered, passwords and credentials to enter the virtual studio will be emailed. For assistance and/or questions, email dancehousenapa@gmail.com.

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