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Q&A with Rebecca Maciejczyk, Artistic Director for the Performing Arts School of Central Pennsylvania

by on May 12, 2018 5:00 AM

As the artistic director for the Performing Arts School of Central Pennsylvania, home to the Nittany Ballet and Central Pennsylvania Youth Orchestra, Rebecca Maciejczyk arranges two major annual productions in addition to smaller ones throughout the year.

Mainly, though, Maciejczyk gets to combine her passion for teaching and dancing with her love of the arts. With the Nittany Ballet and the CYOP’s final performances quickly approaching in May, Maciejczyk sheds some insight on the inner workings of the school, and discusses her journey as the artistic director.

T&G: What are some of your favorite things about being the artistic director for PASCP?

Maciejczyk: Teaching and rehearsing, the energy in the studio from students, faculty, and families, sharing my love and appreciation for ballet technique and artistry with students and fellow faculty, and the opportunity to choreograph for some of our productions.  

T&G: We understand you were trained in classical ballet; do you like dancing and teaching dance equally or prefer one to the other?

Maciejczyk: I first started dancing at age 4 with tap and ballet, concentrating on ballet at age 9.  I assisted some classes for my teacher at the time, Marcia Dale Weary of Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, when I was about 14.  My first experience teaching my own class was in college when I taught for Delaware Dance Company, where I was training and performing.  I taught classes sporadically after college and then began teaching at PASCP, formerly the Arts Conservatory, in 2007.

I absolutely love to dance and perform and have tried to keep up with my own performance experiences every few years.  And although I will probably continue to do so, I’d have to say that the more I teach, the more my heart is with the students, helping them to achieve a skill set that will allow them to be fulfilled with performance opportunities as well. Teaching is a special opportunity and responsibility that I find constantly both challenging and fulfilling.  

For me, the best part of arranging major productions is the chance to work with everyone combined, as a team, to present our work to our community. And we have a great team of faculty, staff and volunteers at PASCP!

T&G: Why did you want to start teaching dance?

Maciejczyk: I loved to choreograph at home while I was growing up and I always thought it would be fun to design my own classroom exercises and combinations. That was most likely the spark of my interest in teaching. There are many more reasons to teach that I have come to recognize. I enjoy sharing some of the more complex lessons I learned from my training, through stories and analogies that allow me to hopefully connect with students to encourage them to be diligent in their work, and express their individual artistry as dancers.  The intense study of classical ballet produces dedicated, intelligent, observant, and sensitive students. Probably the most important responsibility I feel as a teacher is helping students to gain confidence in knowing that with focus, hard work, and determination, they can make significant progress in any endeavor, whether or not they pursue dance in their future. 

T&G: What does PASCP have coming up this summer?

Maciejczyk: Summer training is critical for maintaining and furthering progress.  Some perks of our summer program is the opportunity for some students to work with choreographers while creating new work and also to work with guest master teachers right here at home.  Summer training is more intense in that there are more classes offered per day. Students have the ability to make significant progress over summer months by participating in our programs and master classes, and they are most certain to be inspired by our guest teachers!

T&G: What role does a school like PASCP have in a community like State College?

Maciejczyk: Our organization teaches children from ages 3 to 18 the beauty and artistry of classical ballet and advanced orchestral performances.  For over a decade, we have been striving to achieve our mission to create an environment where all children can experience a joyful pursuit of excellence in the performing arts. PASCP is the only school that provides the opportunity for classical training for all students in the region.  

Our yearly performance of The Nutcracker at Eisenhower Auditorium provides the community with a high-quality full-length ballet, while affording our students the chance to be part of a professional-quality stage experience.  My hope is that our performances will inspire children and families to participate in the arts, and that our training will provide students with the skills and desire to contribute positively to their own future communities.

The PASCP’s Spring Chamber Concert is at 7:30 p.m. May 13 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County in State College. The PASCP presents Coppelia at 3 and 7:30 p.m. May 19 at The State Theatre. For more information, visit pascp.org.


 

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