May 17, 2018
Today we’d like to introduce you to Kathryn Irey.
Kathryn, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Stage 7 School of Dance has been among San Diego’s finest dance studios for the past 46 years. It was originally located in Downtown San Diego, where it had a comprehensive program for musical theater (singing, dancing, acting) performers.
Since its move to North Park in 2000, Stage 7 thrives, narrowing its focus to excellent dance training. Stage 7 offers classes that include ballet for all levels and ages, Capoeira, Contact Improvisation, Song Birds Music for children, and Afro-Cuban Dance. Like all of the arts, Stage 7’s strength lies in the excellence of its teachers. Stage 7’s director, Kathryn Irey, is known nationally and internationally as a leader in arts education as well as an innovator of pedagogic strategies that empower and refine dancers’ technique. Stage 7’s traditional folk dance forms are richly authentic because the teachers draw from deep cultural roots. Testimony to the long-range effectiveness of the teaching at Stage 7 is the number of former students who have left San Diego to dance professionally for major companies. as well as the number of students who indulge their own life-long love of artful movement by dancing for the joy of it.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Our most obvious struggles have related to finding a space large and safe enough to dance in. Historically speaking, the whole relationship between business function and its commercial space has shifted from small storefronts with a big production facility in the back, to isolated small storefronts with remote production facilities. Our challenge was to find the number of square-feet required and then install a sprung floor for safety.
On a broader cultural level, the “So You Think You Can Dance” phenomenon has infused our consciousness with an impression that dance is about of glamor, fame, and instant gratification or instant defeat. Since dance is a universal human phenomenon, our challenge is to stay grounded, real, and focus on the joy and power of dance for all.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Stage 7 specializes in the excellence of training. Period!!!
Teaching at Stage 7 is thematic, so, without rote repetition of exercises, students grapple with sets of ideas and problems over time. In addition, we take an unorthodox approach to ballet technique that allows students to apply its principles to whatever other forms of movement they want… jazz, musical theater, circus, modern, post-modern, etc. Strong basics plus versatility is empowering. While we do produce student performances such as in-house soirees and community festivals, we never dilute class time with rehearsals. A class is a class. Rehearsal is a rehearsal.
I am most proud of the uniqueness and individuality of my students’ as they experience the power of their own dancing.
What were you like growing up?
As a child, I was quiet, introspective and shy. Once I began dancing, at age 11, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I had a great interest in all art forms as well as languages and history but focused on dance. I finished high school as quickly as possible and went to London where I studied with many great teachers and got to see the greatest dancers in the world in class rehearsal and performance as often as I wanted! Education by immersion…