Spin through time at Spindrift’s winter recital, ‘66’

Chloe Ebanks, Marisa Wroten, Martina Luca, Mabel DeRoche, and Madelyn Crowell prepare for their performance of "66." — Photo courtesy of Spindrift Danc

Updated: 2:30 pm, Jan. 28

This weekend, the 1960s will be revisited in the first annual winter dance recital from Spindrift Studios. The show’s title, 66, refers to the year, not the route, and most of the dances were inspired by the era and set to music from that year.

Spindrift Studios was established less than a year ago by former Paul Taylor Dance Company member and choreographer Sandra Stone. The school’s five instructors teach a variety of dance styles including ballet, modern dance, tap, musical theater, zumba, and acro (which combines classical dance technique with precision acrobatic elements).

All of the dance styles will be on display in the upcoming show, featuring a dozen dances performed by over 100 dancers ranging in age from three years to mid-twenties.  

The songs run from the silly, like The Monkees theme, to classics like King of the Road, and Wilson Pickett’s Land of 1000 Dances (which references a number of dances of the day including the mashed potato, the watusi, and the twist, and features the catchy na na na na na chorus). Ballet numbers will be set to both classical and popular music.

Last summer, the school showcased the students in a dance and live music performance honoring the music of Stevie Wonder. Ms. Stone’s husband, Island musician Mike Benjamin, provided the music along with Joanne Cassidy and a number of her voice students.

Spindrift students will continue to present two annual themed shows: a summer live music program spotlighting a musical performer or group, and a winter dance recital based on a particular year.

The year 1966 was selected for the inaugural winter show for the diversity and transitional nature of the music from that time period. “It was an interesting time with the beatniks and the hippies,” Ms. Stone says. “There was a bridge between those two cultures and a bridge between post war and going into the Vietnam War. Things were changing a lot that year.”

Ms. Stone references some pop culture influences of the day, like the TV shows “Batman” and “That Girl,” which was the first sitcom to feature a young woman striking out on her own. She notes that one of the dances has a bit of a “Mad Men” theme.

Although she purchased some of the costumes, others Ms. Stone created herself. She hopes, in the future, to tap local designers and to introduce a costume design component into the school.

That’s all part of an overall plan to provide a wide-ranging scope for her students. “I’d love for kids to learn all the aspects of performance in this school — costumes, music,” she says. “I’d love to have a sort of School of Rock music program going.” As ambitious as this may sound, Ms. Stone already has good help with her musical family participating. Mr. Benjamin teaches beginning guitar, and daughter Charlotte Benjamin offers ukulele lessons.

Spindrift differs from the traditional dance studio model in that creativity is stressed as much as the mechanics of dance. “The whole dance studio concept with competitions and all is not what I’m really comfortable with,” Ms. Stone says. “I can’t be doing this in a formulaic way. I’m a little bit different from the normal dance studio.”

Still, Ms. Stone’s extensive background in dance includes formal training as well as teaching. After graduating from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Ms. Stone moved to New York as a scholarship student at the Martha Graham School. She joined the Graham ensemble and then the Paul Taylor Dance Company, where she variously performed, directed, and choreographed for 12 years.

More recently, Ms. Stone served on the faculty of the Boston Conservatory, where she taught in both the Ballet and Musical theater departments. On Island, she spent time as a resident choreographer for the Yard and later served as their associate artistic director. She started a dance program at the Y, and has choreographed a number of Island productions including last summer’s staging of “Hair” and performances by the Minnesingers and IMP.

Ms. Stone also spent time as a co-owner of Rise Dance Studio in Vineyard Haven.

The Spindrift Studio faculty is made up of accomplished dancers including Caitlin Cook, who has her own New York City based company and recently completed a teaching certification program at American Ballet Theater in NYC, and Alise Haigazian, who was one of Kelly Peters’s original hip hop students and has danced in NYC in films and videos.

Ms. Stone is committed to fostering a creative environment. “I want to really respect the faculty,” Ms. Stone says. “I encourage them to do original work and support them in what they’re doing. I think that what we’re hoping to do is a lot more student-inspired work.”

This weekend’s recital will feature about a dozen numbers, each spotlighting a different style and a different age group. The choreography was all created by the instructors and students.

Spindrift Studios Winter Recital: Sunday, Jan. 31, 6:30 pm, Oak Bluffs School. Tickets are $15 and are available at the door.

Correction: A previous version of this article reported Ms. Stone was one of the co-owners of Rise Dance Studio until last year. Ms. Stone left Rise in 2010.