FLORENCE — From an outside perspective, this week’s camp at the Sattva Archery Training Center was an unexpected mix of two very different activities.
But for instructors Madeleine Bonn and SerahRose Bissell, the combination of archery and ballet was a perfect fit.
“I come from a performance and movement background myself, so it wasn’t unusual for me to see that interest might exist (to combine ballet and archery),” said said Bissell, co-owner of the Sattva Center. “We’ve also collaborated with another dance organization before… So it wasn’t a surprise, it wasn’t unusual.”
The camp was something Bonn, the artistic director of Amherst Ballet, had wanted to create for some time. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the establishment of the camp for a few years, but Bonn’s vision finally came to life on Thursday.
“Part of it comes from my own experiences. Archery is something I found an important refuge in when dancing abroad,” Bonn said.
Bonn told her story to camp attendees before starting the day’s ballet lesson – earlier in her life she was hired with her dance partner to join a group in Transylvania. The night before they both left, Bonn found out her dance partner wouldn’t be traveling with her, so she landed alone in Transylvania and had to make do with living and working abroad. It was there that she discovered archery.
“I found this archery range on the street, and I got hooked and found such a sense of calm. I didn’t really think of it as weapons or anything. aggressive like that – it was very meditative for me,” Bonn said. “It helped me deal with a lot of the homesickness and struggles I had at the time.”
The two-day camp, which started Thursday morning and ends Friday afternoon, focused on the similarities between ballet and archery, two highly technical sports. The campers started with a ballet lesson during the morning session before moving on to their first archery lesson after a lunch break.
During the morning session, Bonn took participants through a more traditional ballet warm-up before introducing ballet drills mimicking some of the moves participants would use later in the day in their archery lesson. .
“I have been doing ballet for many years and have always been interested in archery. I did a little here and here. I’m also very interested in how the arts connect to each other,” said Hezekiah Sims, who attended the camp. “So it seemed like a really interesting opportunity to both explore something new that I hadn’t done much before that I was interested in, and also to see how ballet connects to other things. ”
Connecting ballet to other artistic expressions was central to the workshop, and something Bonn is exploring as part of Amherst Ballet’s curriculum. Earlier this summer, the ballet studio held a workshop featuring taekwondo and capoeira – two styles of martial arts – as well as ballet. In the future, Bonn would also like to host a writing and ballet camp.
“Amherst Ballet is moving towards a more multi-arts organization. We will therefore keep ballet as the main language, while incorporating other languages. I think it’s important to keep ballet accessible and relevant,” Bonn said. “I think it’s important to find new ways to integrate it into people’s lives, even in very unusual ways, like this. And that’s really fun.
Most of the camp attendees had limited archery experience, and one camper had no ballet experience prior to Thursday’s session. Despite this, there were lots of laughs and smiles as the group learned new ways to move their bodies.
“As a coach, when dancers come to us to learn archery, they have a level of body awareness that some other people don’t have,” Bissell said. “So it’s really fun to work with dancers or people who do yoga – anyone who really does very conscious movement tends to transfer those skills very easily to archery. It’s really fun.