I believe that dance is one part physical, one part mental, and one part emotional. All those parts can bring a dancer to the whole, at a spiritual level. Dance is just as much about strength and aerobic training as it is about the technique and art-form. All parts require focus, dedication, and positivity in order to have fun! Invest in your skills as a dancer!
PHYSICAL: Dance is a sport. It takes training, dedication, endurance, and strength. I am a firm believer in the fact that conditioning, strengthening, and toning all contribute to a stronger, more able-bodied, capable, and well-rounded dancer. Hurts so good! Build that body!
MENTAL: Dance is something that takes brains. One must remember moves, sequences and combinations, and timing. Making corrections and modifications is not just about the body changing how it's moving, but is initiated by the brain telling the body what to do, when to do it, how to do it. If you think it, you can (eventually, with practice!) do it! Positivity rules. There is no room for "can't" on the dance floor.
EMOTIONAL: Dance is also about feeling. Dance is more than just a series of steps in succession. Feel the dance moves. Feel the music. Feel emotions and transmit your sentiments through movement. Convey what you feel through the art form of dance: lines, motion, transitions, timing, and more. All are crucial to setting a mood for the audience. Attitude is everything.
Balance these three components, striving for deeper meaning than just creating movement, and you truly reach more than just an art, or more than just a physical sport or activity. Dance with purpose, intentionally, for a reason.
Last of all, "Dance smarter, not harder!"
As you will see at left, there is a link to Ms. Lara's YouTube playlist, which includes choreography and classwork sequences her students have worked on. Additionally, video clips of student work and collaborative choreo efforts are uploaded, so students can play back their own work, enjoy watching themselves and others, and reflect for future changes, growth, and inspiration!
an 8-10 minute sequence of warm-up barre work.
In addition to administrative duties as Owner & Director of SBDA, Ms. Lara currently teaches more than a dozen classes a week at the studio, of all different styles, levels, and ages,. She is directing and producing this year's traditional production of The Nutcracker, as well as offering private lessons in many styles, including wedding and quinceañera events. She also plans SBDA events such as: movie-sleepover nights, dance conventions and master classes, community outreach and involvement through our community arts council and the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Association, ballet excursions to see professional events, and more!
In January of 2018, Ms. Lara became Owner/Director of the studio when Founder Ms. Kim Lavagnino retired.
Ms. Lara Lichten, born and raised in Washington State, spent her formative years gaining a dance education with Pioneer Dance Arts Academy. Trained in the core styles of ballet, tap, jazz, modern/Bartenieff Fundamentals and Laban movement, Ms. Lara experienced additional dance forms in elective movement classes such as tumbling, hip-hop, performance arts, and Capoeira Brazilian martial arts. She was raised in an academic-studio setting that demanded rigorous efforts and commitment, was instilled with an education of mind and body, and also competed with the Performing Company of Pioneer Dance Arts in modern, ballet, and jazz styles for several years during her adolescence. Bill Evans and his modern training were also very influential in Ms. Lara’s development of modern dance theory.
Ms. Lara completed her undergrad studies in 2010 at Whitworth University. While obtaining two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Cross-Cultural Studies and Spanish, as well as a Speech Communication minor and Certification in Teaching ELL/ESL/TESOL, Ms. Lara was also active in dance performance and activities. She performed in many works of choreography on stage, in the community, led a campus dance troupe and club, and took dance classes: jazz, ballroom, liturgical dance ministries and outreach, as well as student choreography. Additionally, through education abroad, Ms. Lara was blessed to dance with the Universidad Nacional's modern and Latin dance students in Heredia, Costa Rica. Outside of a studio context, she has also taken great pleasure in observing and partaking in Latin social dance, as well as Asian forms of movement and performance.
Ms. Lara also gained experience in dance aerobics, yoga and exercise fitness during her years living and working abroad. She traveled extensively during her young adult years--from missionary endeavors to international studies, and specifically working in the Education Field in Latin America and Asia for several years, post-grad. During multiple mission trips abroad, Ms. Lara has put on dance camps as a form of outreach ministries, spanning cultural and linguistic gaps to teach international youth basic ballet movement, as well as perform special presentations and performances en pointe in various locales (not just on stages, but also in confined spaces, in the dirt, on tile, uneven concrete and riser structures, or even in the sand on a beach!).
Ms. Lara moved to Hollister in 2013 to be close to extended family, and at that time, joined the SBDA family as a member of the teaching faculty. Inspired by her love of dance and fusing it with her background in education, Ms. Lara has taken over SBDA upon SBDA Founder/Original Owner/Director Ms. Kim Lavagnino's retirement, in January 2018. She looks forward to carrying on the "keep believing" philosophy in the studio atmosphere. Already the studio grows and develops as Ms. Lara studied was certified in teaching Progressing Ballet Technique (PBT). Additionally, as the ballet program onboards ABT-based curriculum and heading in the direction of formal examinations, there is excitement in the progress!
Ms. Lara has a background in studio and competitive dance, training with The Performing Company of Pioneer Dance Arts Academy in Washington State, accompanied by further education in liturgical and ballroom dance. She has trained and performed internationally. Lara has extensive professional experience in Education: international academia, student life coordinating, Special Education, and Teaching English as a Second Language. Additionally, she has been an instructor of dance for over a decade.
With background in the field of Education and life experience as a dancer, Lara is passionate about dance education. Working with talented and energetic dancers in SBDA productions brings her joy, rejuvenating old pieces of choreography and creating new ones. In addition to instructing at SBDA, Lara has choreographed Member’s Choice award-winning productions for the San Benito Stage Company. Thankful for Kim Lavagnino’s dream and vision for SBDA, Lara will continue in the spirit of ‘believing’ as she assumed ownership and became Director of SBDA in January 2018.