Plier [To bend]

If you find yourself inside of Studio 1 at Danspace, you’ll see a purple paper hanging to the left of the door describing PERGSET or the seven movements of dancing.  As ballet vocabulary have become the themes for these newsletters, we are going to let PERGSET guide our musings in the next few newsletters.

For November, we’ll start at the beginning (and often the end) with plier [plee-AY], meaning “to bend”.  Plier describes the action of bending the knees, which is not-so-secretly a critical component of dancing.  As breathing is to living, plier is to dancing. We work diligently to learn how to use it in ballet (how do you bend your knees while standing in rotation? If you ask a pre-ballet dancer they can tell you it’s not quite as easy as it looks).  As soon as we learn it, we often forget that we’re doing it. Plier becomes the part of dancing we rely on without always thinking about it, as happens with our breath as we go about our regular lives.

As we continue to progress we start to notice plier more.  We notice how by changing the dynamic we can change how plier helps us dance.  Our plier to start a turn is different than our plier to land a jump, for instance.  Plier can energize a movement and stabilize a landing, and a good plier protects our joints and muscles to let us keep dancing for our entire lives if we choose.

This month, we invite our community to notice and bring awareness to the seemingly small things that help us succeed.  What supports and nourishes you and your goals in the way that plier supports and strengthens our dancing?


Visiting Week!
We had a great week of visits from family members during Visiting Week.  Visiting Week is an important opportunity for dancers of all ages to get to practice the “performing” part of our performing art by having an audience.  It’s a great opportunity for family members to see what we’re working on in class, so you can engage with your dancer about their experience. If you missed this Visiting Week, stay tuned for our Spring Semester dates!

Beth’s Classes!
We also celebrated a great start to Beth Hoge’s (Danspace’s founder and matriarch) Adult Ballet classes.  Thank you to the dancers who attended both Wednesday and Saturday morning classes, and click here to find Beth’s full 2019-2020 teaching schedule.

Beth chair pose

Children’s Division

We are still accepting enrollment for the fall semester!Beth dancers pose
We have a fantastic program for young children, focusing on creative movement and developing into technical training with creativity in mind. 

Our Serendipity classes are geared towards children age 3.5-6 and Pre-Ballet is for children age 6-8, offered throughout the week and on Saturdays.

Ballet training begins at age 8-9 with Ballet 1a on Thursdays from 4:15-5:15pm and continues for ages 9-10 with Ballet 1b on Tuesdays from 4:15-5:15pm.

We offer Modern Jazz for students age 8 and up, along with Choreography for ages 8-10.

If you have friends who are interested in dancing, send them our way by emailing

Click here for our full schedule of classes

If you have a school newsletter where you can list our classes – please do!

Do you use Berkeley Parents Network or Nextdoor? Thanks for the recommend!

Ways to be prepared for your dance class (for Children’s & Adult Divisions!) Hair supplies photo 4

  • Eat a snack before class, or a light meal if your class is later in the evening and you know you will need food to sustain you through class.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink water throughout the day, and bring a water bottle to class if you know you will need to hydrate.
  • Arrive 5-10 minutes early to get settled, use the restroom and get your body and mind ready to dance.
  • Pack hair ties and other supplies to get your hair back in a bun (Pre-Ballet and up) or ponytail. If you need help doing your hair, it is especially important to arrive early to class.

Adult Division

Series 2 Begins Sunday, November 3

If you have questions or want to enroll in classes, please email us at  Adult Division accepts cash, check, and credit card as forms of payment.

Elaine adult dance 2Sundays: Adult Beginning Ballet
Dates: 11/3-12/22 (8 weeks)
Time: 10:30am-12pm
Instructor: Mary Armentrout & Katie Taylor
Cost: $128

Mondays: Adult Cardio Hip Hop
Dates: 11/4-12/23 (8 weeks)
Time: 7:30-8:30pm
Instructor: Janey Madamba
Cost: $128

Wednesdays: Adult Advanced Beginning/Intermediate Ballet
Dates: 11/6-12/18 (6 weeks – no class 11/27)
Time: 7:30-9pm
Instructor: Mary Armentrout & Katie Taylor
Cost: $96

Thursdays: Adult Beginning/Intermediate Ballet
Dates: 11/6-12/18 (6 weeks – no class 11/28)
Time: 7:30-9pm
Instructor: Katie Taylor
Cost: $96

Intermediate/Advanced Teen/Adult classes are available as drop-ins only for $18/class:
Mondays: Intermediate/Advanced Teen/Adult Ballet with Kimberly Valmore, 6-7:30pm
Tuesdays: Intermediate/Advanced Teen/Adult Modern Jazz with Kimberly Valmore, 6:15-7:45pm
Fridays: Intermediate/Advanced Teen/Adult Ballet with Claudine Naganuma, 6-7:30pm
Saturdays: Mondays: Intermediate/Advanced Teen/Adult Ballet with Claudine Naganuma, 11am-12:30pm

Renter Feature: Duncan Classes

West Coast Duncan Dance is a collaboration of like-minded Duncan dancers who meet regularly to dance, teach, learn traditional Duncan dance vocabulary and repertory, and share their love for Isadora Duncan Dance.

Isadora Duncan (1877-1927), the mother of modern dance, was a prolific dance artist and choreographer.  Duncan’s philosophy of dance moved away from rigid ballet technique and towards what she perceived as natural movement.  She developed a dance vocabulary which was a critical path in the stylistic development and artistic freedom of other modern dancers and also influenced the creations and movements we now see regularly in ballet.  Isadora created a style of free and natural dance movements inspired by the classical Greek arts, folk dances, social dances, nature and natural forces, as well as natural athletic movements which included skipping, running, jumping, leaping and tossing.  She strove to connect emotions with movement and focused on the solar plexus as her center of movement.

Classes: Ongoing dance classes for adults are an hour and a half in length and include a Duncan-focused warm-up, a traditional Duncan barre, and center work and across the floor dance movements using traditional Duncan dance vocabulary.  Dance training focuses on movement centered in and propelled by the solar plexus. Warm-up and barre movements are designed to help the dance student access and use the solar plexus, with movements initiated from the solar plexus rippling through the entire body and providing the impetus for walks, waltzes, runs, and leaps.  Selected repertory is introduced and taught during class. Previous dance experience is a plus, but is not required.  Please wear comfortable clothes that allow a full range of motion.  Duncan dance is done with bare feet.

Drop-ins are welcome with prior notification (and confirmation).  Please contact Christy Cornell-Pape via email, text, or phone at least 48 hours prior to class to ensure that the particular session you want to attend is open to new students.  (Some classes may not be open due to instructor absence or rehearsal schedule.).

Christy Cornell-Pape email:

phone: (415) 652-1637

Fee for a first time student is $20 for the class with the second class free.

Adult Classes are taught by Christina Bergren Fessenden and Christy Cornell-Pape.

Click here to learn more

From the Community

There is a lot of great dancing happening this fall!  Part of a great dance education is seeing dance performances.  As a dance student you can see how our class training translates to the stage and be swept away by the artistry required to perform.  Oakland Ballet has an excellent season coming up. Many Danspace students participate in Oakland Ballet’s Nutcracker, and in November you can see Luna Mexicana, Oakland Ballet’s show celebrating Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).  Click here to learn more about their upcoming season and purchase tickets.

Looking Forward

Closed for Thanksgiving Break!  Children’s Division is closed Monday, November 25 to Saturday, November 30. Adult Division classes are cancelled for Wednesday and Thursday only. Teen/Adult classes are cancelled for the full week.

Danspace Repertory Ensemble Performs at Works in the Works!
Saturday, November 23 at 7:00pm
Tickets available at the door: $10

Works in the Works is an annual open performance series held in Berkeley at Western Sky Studio. Our Danspace Repertory Ensemble consists of students in Ballet 4/5 that want extra opportunities to perform.

If you can’t make it to this performance, looks for the Ensemble on May 2, 2020 in Tapestry: Weaving the Community of Dance.

See you in the studio as we celebrate (and use!) the power of plier!

– From the Danspace team

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