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OJC Press Release ID: 2815


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Learn About Some of OJC’s Dance Instructors

 

The Otero Junior College Dance Program will be celebrating 37 years when classes begin this fall. Over the years the program has continued to build upon the foundation of its founder Darlene Blackford. Registration for fall classes will be on Aug. 8, 2018, and Aug 15, 2018, from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. in the Dance Program studio, Humanities Center room 117.

Denise Balicki has been a part of the OJC dance program since the early days. Balicki was one of Darlene Blackford’s, OJC dance program founder, first students. After dancing through school with Blackford, Balicki took over as the OJC dance program director for a stint but now serves as an instructor. Cynthia Fazio started out as a student in the program as well but has more recently become an instructor for the program.

Balicki began dancing in the early 1980s. “I watched a dance recital, one of Darlene Blackford’s first recitals, and told my mother that I wanted to dance.” Balicki said. Balicki took classes under Blackford until she graduated from OJC in 1996. During junior high and high school, Balicki took classes and performed with the now-defunct Pueblo Ballet. She also attended numerous workshops and dance camps and took classes from a number of dance leaders in Colorado.

In 1998, Blackford handed the reins of the OJC Dance Program over to Balicki. Balicki served as director of the dance program until 2004 when she became a mother and wanted to just teach. Jennifer Jackson became director of the program and has served in that role since.

Since 1993, Balicki has taught numerous styles of dance: ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, modern, Pilates, choreography, tumbling, Acro, and others. Her favorite style of dance has remained ballet.

“One thing that I enjoy is the recital preparation.” Balicki stated. “From song and costume to selections to choreography and teaching a dance to compiling the recital and watching the kids perform, I enjoy each part of the process.”

According to Balicki having Blackford as a mentor and Jackson as a partner has made for such an exciting journey. “It’s been such a fun time being an important part of the dance world in La Junta at OJC.”

Cynthia Fazio started dance when she was 12 years old. She told her mom she would like to join an activity in the area, and had an interest in ballet and gymnastics. After some research they discovered the OJC Dance Studio and gave it a shot.

“Jennifer Jackson met with us beforehand and was incredibly welcoming.” Fazio said. “She gave us all the information we needed and that evening, I sat in on a dance class. I'd never had this feeling before, but watching those girls practice their leaps and turns somehow gave me a sense of feeling at home. I felt like I'd carried a piece of my heart my whole life, but at that dance class, I'd found the rest of it. I didn't know what it was, but within a week, I was wearing my first leotard, ready to go to my first ballet class.”

Fazio explains since then she has fallen in love with ballet. She loves the solid foundation that it creates, opening doors to other genres of dance. In her eyes, it's the perfect mix of beauty and grace with a tough workout and resilience. According to Fazio those who know her, know she’s dancing every minute she has a chance to. “Yes, that even includes the grocery store.”

In high school, she was offered the opportunity to become a student teacher. She remembers how honored she was and that she had progressed enough to share some of her knowledge with the younger dancers.

“I was finally told by Miss Jenn and Miss Denise that I could go for my pointe shoe fitting.” Fazio stated. For a ballet dancer, moving up to pointe shoes is a big step. Fazio explained that she was confident in their decision to move her up, but chose to hold off another year, focusing on strengthening herself so that she could prevent any potential injuries and build technique.

In the summer of 2011, Fazio and a fellow dancer attended a 10-day dance festival in Wyoming. The cost to attend the festival totaled over $1000. Determined to get to the camp Fazio worked through the school year at local restaurants, saving enough to attend the camp. “We had such a blast. We met some very talented dancers and choreographers that we still keep in touch with today.” Fazio stated.

In 2016 Fazio married and took a short break from dance. She approached Jackson and inquired about helping out at the studio again. Jackson accepted and soon after, Fazio was choreographing her first group dance and took on teaching pre-pointe and intermediate ballet.

For more information on the OJC Dane Program contact Director Jennifer Jackson at 719-384-6812 or Jennifer.jackson@ojc.edu. Registration for fall classes will be on Aug. 8, 2018, and Aug 15, 2018, from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. in the Dance Program studio, Humanities Center room 117

 

Press Release Photo
Pictured are the OJC Dance Program instructors. Back row (l-r): Becky Sisneros, Breanna Berry, Alecia Rumrill, Denise Balicki. Front row: Jennifer Jackson, Cynthia Fazio. The Otero Junior College Dance Program will be celebrating 37 years when classes begin this fall. Registration for fall classes will be on Aug. 8, 2018, and Aug 15, 2018, from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. in the Dance Program studio, Humanities Center room 117.

Photo credit: Aaron Root









 

 

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