By Rachel Bosworth
The history of ballet spans centuries with roots in the Italian Renaissance, growing to amass classes of dancers and choreographers throughout Europe, Russia, and the United States. Names like George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, Justin Peck, and Misty Copeland are part of every dancer and admirer’s vocabulary. Whether it be traditional ballet or modern dance like jazz or hip-hop, dance is a profession often learned at a young age; something that rings true for Kelly Hren, director of Dancehampton.
At a mere three years of age, Hren put on her first pair of dance shoes at LJ Dance Studio in Cedarhurst, New York, where she studied several forms including ballet, jazz, and hip-hop until the age of 16. Her dance career led her to assistant-teach classes and hold some of her own before graduating high school. Later moving to East Hampton, she taught at the Lighthouse Dance Project and eventually opened her own studio in 2007.
“It was an exciting leap of faith, as it was something I had always dreamed of doing,” Hren says of Dancehampton’s opening. Among the studio’s credits is a recent award from the Association of Dance Conventions and Competitions as a Studio of Excellence winner, and the company’s first trip to Disney to perform in parades at Epcot and the Magic Kingdom. “It’s hard to believe that we have just started our 11th season of dance,” Hren says.
Celebrating the completion of a decade of dance, Hren said the 10th annual recital, which was held this past June at East Hampton High School, was an exciting yet emotional event in which Dancehampton recognized dancers that had been with the school for all 10 seasons. “I created a slideshow of photos from each season that played as the audience entered the auditorium,” Ms. Hren recalls. “It was a wonderful walk down memory lane. Seeing photos of all of the dancers that have danced with us over the years was overwhelming.”
The studio’s instructors include Anita Boyer, Kate Havlicek, Kasia Klimiuk, assistant director Melissa Knight, and head choreographer Krystal Lamiroult. Though many of them began their path in dance as preschoolers, Lamiroult, got what is considered a later start. “I’ve always loved dancing but didn’t take it formally until I was around 9 or 10,” she says, adding that she studied all styles including contemporary, ballet, jazz, and hip hop. She went on to student teach at the age of 16, which is where choreography began for her.
At Dancehampton, Lamiroult mainly works with teen students, saying it is a true commitment both physically and financially for dancers, with a recreational value that is also very real. “The dancers put in hours of required classes and then work on composition, and so on,” says the choreographer, who has won numerous awards as an individual and on behalf of the studio at prestigious events throughout the country. “Each individual learns something about themselves, whether it’s something they like or don’t like, both of which are equally important.”
Lamiroult aims to create themes and develop a concept, then choreograph toward that concept, finding the music later. It’s a new method Dancehampton has been experimenting with that she says is going well. She is also a certified Tracy Anderson instructor, which she says has given her a beginner’s perspective again. “I always keep myself a student,” Lamiroult says. “I keep it fresh in my mind; it’s scary and insecure [to be a student]. But then I can relate to my students, while enhancing myself and growing.”
The studio, located in East Hampton, offers a range of classes including traditional ballet, tap, and Irish step, along with combination classes like lyrical dance, combining ballet, modern, jazz techniques to complement music. While Hren’s favorite genre of dance is tap, it’s baby ballet that is one of the most inspiring. “My favorite classes to teach are my babies,” she says. “We offer a ballet/tap combo class for two to four year olds and it is the best. I absolutely love watching these little ones fall in love with dance. It is most special when I catch them watching some of our older dancers in awe.”
Among Hren’s students is Lamiroult’s own four-year-old daughter, Danika. “I don’t allow myself to get excited,” Lamiroult laughs, saying her daughter has been in the studio since just five days old. “It’s not for me to feel that way, it’s for her. As long as she’s truly happy to do it, I’m happy.”
Dancehampton is located at 15 Lumber Lane, and is open for classes after school five days a week, and on Saturdays beginning at 10 a.m. For more information, visit dancehampton.com.