Summer ballet workshop returns

Matisse Madden, a professional ballet dancer from Connecticut, will teach her third Kaua‘i Ballet Summer Intensive workshop Sunday through June 29, and a master class on June 30.

The workshop returns to Kalaheo, in the Kaua‘i Dance Theater studio run by Janie Crane. Madden said the students are always eager to learn and their skills develop before her eyes in one short week.

“I am amazed at all the material I throw at them and they exceed my expectations,” Madden said. “The dancers on Kaua‘i are very talented, dedicated and passionate about ballet.”

The master class is a mix of local dancers and visiting performers who, she said, want to experience good training with the beauty of Kaua‘i.

“I always try to take ballet class when I am on vacation because it immediately connects me with a community of dancers,” she said. “This is what I live for! I am also a complete ballet nerd and I like to take ballet class every day if possible.”

The first hour is focused on technique. Then the dancers put on their pointe shoes for a classical variations class using “Giselle,” Act 1 and Gamzatti’s wedding scene variation from Marius Petipa’s “La Bayadère” as a guide.

An informal show for the parents and friends of the dancers will be held 11:30 a.m. on June 30. It is a low-key performance but Madden said the motivated students present an unforgettable show.

“The dancers really show what they have learned,” she said.

A foundation in ballet will improve all forms of dance. Madden said the movement and lines are designed to translate into all forms and amplify its potency.

“Ballet makes one feel weightless, like you can defy gravity,” she said. “If I could bottle it and sell it, I would be a billionaire.”

The goal of the class is to train the whole dancer, said Madden: body, mind, heart and spirit. She wants to pass along the Vaganova technique, a Russian program that blends French and Italian styles and can give dancers an edge in the profession.

“I want to pass on information I have picked up during my career that will help the dancers be more confident in their technique and artistry,” Madden said. “I want the students to gain a sense of empowerment that is achieved from intensively studying choreography, truly understanding it and then making it their own.”

Ballet competitions are important and Madden’s own students have won the Youth American Grand Prix regional competitions, the largest in the world. She is concerned that competitions are now the only way to get a job with a respectable company and wants dancers to consider ballet as an art form and not a sport.

“The competitions are expensive and they can burn out young dancers who otherwise would have a promising career,” she said.

The classes  run from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and are designed for students ages 12 and up. The class fee is $120.

For more information, contact Madden at matissemadden@ or visit her blog at


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