Savoy Studio Sending Students to Regional Festivals, Competitions

The dancers may be new, but Christine Rich students Becky Ramos and Andrew Cribbett have been performing together for years now.

From Savoy Star
October 11, 2007
By Erika Nelson, Savoy Star Editor

Dance has become a way of life for Christine Rich Dance Theater students Andrew Cribbett and Becky Ramos. Now both at the age of 15, Ramos began dance lessons with Rich when she was 3, Cribbett when he was 6. Over the years they have competed in multiple dance competitions, frequently as partners. And this year is no different.

This fall, Cribbett and Ramos will be performing two dances choreographed by Rich at the upcoming Chinese Moon Festival, to take place October 13 at Foellinger Auditorium, and at Dance Chicago, an annual Chicago festival that takes place throughout the month of November and supports the work of over 300 dance companies and over 3,000 individual artists. They will go on to take the original choreography โ€“ “Time is Still a Flower,” an elegant, classical ballet piece and “Species Disturbed,” which incorporates acrobatics, edgy makeup and costumes โ€“ to dance competitions in January, February and March.

It took four rehearsals for Cribbett and Ramos, who learned the new dances through terminology, to finish learning the choreography.

“They are advanced enough that I can talk them through it,” Rich said. “We’re in tweaking mode now.”

But being in tweaking mode now doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a challenge to get there.

“These dances are definitely different from what we’ve done,” said Ramos. “They are fun, although tiring. (They are) definitely some of the hardest dances we’ve done…harder in technique.”

Like any good teacher, Rich uses the difficulty to help push her students and take them to the next level.

“Part of my duty as Becky and Andrew’s choreographer and coach is to make sure that I am always creating dances that take them to the next level so that they can expand their repertoire of experience and be constantly challenged โ€“ especially since they are still students,” she said.

And the potential Rich sees in her students today is nothing new.

“When they were 7 years old…they thought the steps were ‘impossible,’ and now they look at old videos and laugh at how cute their complaints were over such easy steps,” Rich Said.

As a 6-year old Cribbett’s talent was evident from the get-go.

“When Andrew was little, he would win first place (at competitions) all the time,” Rich said. “He started feeling bad that he was taking away trophies for the other kids.”

At Andrew and Becky’s first competition, Rich said she didn’t tell them they would be competing, rather that they would do the dance they had been practicing.

“They danced and won and when they had to go up to receive the trophy, I told them the people just wanted to give them something,” Rich said. “Andrew came back, gave the trophy to me and said ‘can we go swimming now?’…I had promised them we would go swimming afterwards.”

For Cribbett, who lives in Thomasboro and attends Rantoul High School, recognizing his own gifting in the area of dance took time. After dancing for seven years, he quit for two.

“But I decided to come back,” he said. “(Dance is) something I am good at and was told no matter how hard I tried to get rid of my talent, it wouldn’t go away…and it’s true.”

Like Andrew, Becky’s natural affinity in the area of dance shone through as a little girl.

“Becky, at the age of 3, had a bright face in dance class, which meant she was intrigued and tried to soak up everything,” Rich said. “She was such a hard worker and wanted to try everything in class, usually accompanied with a giggle.”

At age 3, Ramos started both dance lessons and gymnastics, but quit gymnastics to pursue dance. At the age of 7, she began additional dance training, accompanied by private coaching.

“(Becky’s) free spirit, coupled with the fact that her parents were 100 percent supportive of her training, were ideal to…developing the innate talent (she) has,” Rich said.

Ramos, now a sophomore at Centennial High School, said she and Cribbett have been designated dance partners at Rich’s studio for years now.

“It’s just fun,” she said of dancing with him. “It’s different from a solo.”

Cribbett said it has taken him a while to catch up with Ramos, who started dance lessons before he did.

“I was in ballet one when she was in ballet two or three, but we finally caught up…I was one of the only males that took classical ballet,” he said, commenting that dancing with Becky over the years has been a good learning experience.

“…Just in case I have to do partnering later on,” he said.

Long term, both Ramos and Cribbett say they want to pursue dance in college and possibly as a career.

“Now that I’m back (into dance) I might as well use it,” Cribbett said. “I would like to major in dance and maybe business.”

But in the immediate future, he and Ramos are looking forward to the upcoming festivals and the chance to compete together one more time.

“I’m looking forward to the Moon Festival because it’s a new thing,” Ramos said. “I’m excited to see what it’s like.”

Cribbett agreed.

“I’ve never done the Moon Festival before; it’s new and exciting,” he said.

And while the Chinese Moon Festival will be a new adventure this year, Dance Chicago is the exact opposite.

“We’ve been to Dance Chicago five or six times,” Cribbett said. “It’s nice to go back and see people we’ve met before.”

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