Jean Appolon teaches classes open to the general public on Saturdays and Sundays at The Dance Complex in Cambridge, MA (Central Square, 536 Mass. Ave, 02139).
Every Saturday Jean teaches an Afro-Haitian class from 1:30 – 3pm, and live music is provided by Haitian percussionists. This class is open to all ages from bouncing baby to respected elder, and to all dancing abilities from no experience to professional. On Sunday Jean teaches a Horton-based Modern class from 11:00 – 12:30 pm. The class is open to teenagers and adults, and to beginning thru advanced dancers. Both classes are conducted on a drop-in basis and cost $13 per class, with a $4 discount for members of Boston’s French Cultural Center.
PEDAGOGY AND APPROACH
Jean’s pedagogy is based upon a strong foundation in ballet, Horton technique and Haitian folkoric dance. Developed by Lester Horton, Horton technique emphasizes a whole body, anatomical approach to dance that includes flexibility, strength, coordination and body and spatial awareness to enable unrestricted, dramatic freedom of expression. Jean’s alma mater, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, is known for its strong use of Horton technique, derived from Ailey’s studies with Lester Horton who was his most significant artistic and pedagogical influence.
Beyond technique, however, it is Jean’s philosophical approach to teaching dance that is so noteworthy. Jean’s dance classroom provides a uniquely positive and affirming atmosphere in which every student (regardless of their ability and prior training) is deemed inherently capable and artistic. Jean also creates a highly rigorous and challenging environment in which he has the same expectations of every student—to achieve his/her best through personal expression. Jean’s gift as a teacher is that dancers of all abilities leave the same class feeling that they have had a successful experience, regardless of whether they are a beginning or advanced dancer.
Over the past fifteen years, Jean has succeeded in creating a vibrant and supportive community brought together by his weekly Saturday Afro-Haitian class at The Dance Complex. It’s a loose network of about 150 people, 75 of which attend class on any given Saturday. The spectrum of students covers every race and many ethnicities, every body type, men and women, and ages 0 – 75. It is a communal celebration through dance and music.
When people say “arts for social change,” Jean’s classes bring this expression to life in an authentic way. Through dance, Jean creates an environment where people feel empowered, and are passionate about dance but also care deeply for each other and for the world. For example, it’s the norm for students to use the class as a venue to make announcements in support of an ailing friend or family member or a fundraiser for a worthy cause. And Jean keeps Haiti, its people and his Haitian students at the forefront of the class’ consciousness by providing updates and occasionally soliciting support. Click here for a video clip of Jean’s Saturday Afro-Haitian class.