For Jeremy Raia, LGBCM’s new home in the Édifice Wilder, the city’s preeminent dance mecca, is a dream come true. “It feels special,” says the First Soloist, now celebrating 20 years with the company. The new state-of-art building is valued today, he says, but will resonate “for future generations.”
As he walks through the climate-controlled studio where he teaches a men’s open level ballet class, Raia comments on the “incredible space, the light, and freedom [to move]” in the space. Each studio is equipped with a piano, sprung floors, mirrors, and sound systems. There is freedom to rehearse and dance in the airy studios, and Raia says that with 42 LGBCM dancers, it is liberating to “not always be on top of each other.” The New York-born dancer and Juilliard School graduate mentions his inclination to go to an empty studio during his down time and improvise. The studios, with their expansive sense of space, feeds “something in your soul,” he admits, and allows to “you to evolve as an artist.”
New beginnings also feature prominently for the public entering Les Studios, in the five studios spread over 1700 square feet. With a slate of fitness, dance, and adapted classes each week, there is something for everyone, including Raia’s Ballet for Men class. Anyone, at any level of experience, with a requisite six months prior training, will learn “the basics of dance,” he says. The instruction in the fundamentals of ballet technique teaches skills that are particularly designed to develop “finesse, strength, and discipline,” Raia says, as well as increased flexibility, balance, and motor control. He loves to share his passion for dance, and comments that the class allows men to rekindle the dream of dancing and personal expression, and in the process, bolsters confidence and the joy of movement.