With free classes and parking, Ballet Austin celebrates its annual Come Dance day this Sunday.

By Chelsea Pribble, Photos courtesy of Ballet Austin 

Cancel your plans Sunday, Aug. 26, and get your groove on at Ballet Austin’s annual free day of dance. Inspired by energized crowds and a shared love of movement, Come Danceis pirouetting, pop lock and dropping, and shimmying into its 11th year. From international dances like the Brazilian samba to technical ballet and hip-hop classes to cardio sweat sessions, there’s something for everyone.

Vicki Parsons, director of the Butler Center for Dance and Fitness, says the event is a “little bit of a teaser” of what Ballet Austin offers throughout the year.

“When the Austin community thinks Ballet Austin, they think Swan Lakeor Nutcrackeronstage in the theater, and we want them to know that we do so much more,” Parsons says. “We try to offer a variety of classes during each hour so there’s something for everybody.”

Parsons and Ballet Austin instructors Alexa Capareda and Jenny Alperin sat down with Austin Woman to share a few tips for the day.

Just beat it.

For those feeling shy or nervous about having two left feet, it doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right. This year’s Videodance class, instructed by Alperin, will break down the moves from Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ music video. Alperin emphasizes the simplicity of the choreography and loves to help her students loosen up and get into character.

“I remind my students to have fun, and if you’re not, do The Sprinkler in the back of the class,” Alperin says. “When I taught Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad,’ I told my clients, ‘You’re wearing all denim. You even have a denim hat and you’re so cool.’ ”

Capareda, the instructor of Intro to Beginning Ballet, also advises not to worry about buying ballet shoes or other gear.

“I always have to preface: This is only a taste,” Capareda says “Everyone is just focusing on themselves in that moment, so don’t feel like there are a million eyes on you.”

But even those who are not ready to take the dancing plunge immediately can get something out of Come Dance day.

“Feel free to come watch and then get your courage up to sneak in,” Parsons says. “Believe it or not, I come at this as a non-dancer. The times I’ve been brave enough to try a class, the instructors here are not condemning. It’s a safe place. They use humor a lot and a sense of fun. I think that goes a long way to break down barriers.”

Plan it out.

With classes beginning at 1 p.m. and starting at the top of every hour, it’s wise to make a loose plan for the day. Parsons suggests looking at the schedule ahead of time to see what classes appeal to you, whether you plan to take one class, just observe or take five.

“Come towards the beginning because classes are fuller,” Alperin says. “If you’re a little nervous and you want to hide in a larger crowd, the second hour is usually the biggest hour.”

Hop around town.

With neighboring Second Street District and tons of new restaurants and sights to see, make use of the free parking in the state garage across the street from Ballet Austin and explore. Fuel up with brunch beforehand or bring your new moves out onto the streets West Side Storystyle. Alperin suggests grabbing a bite at Flower Child or True Food Kitchen to keep your energy up, and Capareda advices topping the day off with an ice-cream sandwich at the new Baked Bear.

Come dance again.

In addition to free classes, Come Dance is a chance to learn more about dance, find your niche, connect with others and keep the art alive.

“So many of my students in my open ballet classes are close-knit,” Capareda says. “They go to happy hours, they have Facebook groups set up for their class, they go out to dinner together and go to see the ballet together and they become lifelong friends.”

“Dance is a great way to have a dialogue,” Parsons adds. “Dance gives people an outlet. It’s a communication tool. It’s a way to be inclusive with people of all walks of life, all ages, and diversity is really important at Ballet Austin. We believe dance is a way to reach everybody.”


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