501 Broad Street, Gadsen, AL
The Downtown Dance Conservatory, planted in the heart of historic downtown Gadsden, Alabama, offers quality dance education training for the beginner to advanced student. Located inside the Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts, the Conservatory is dedicated to preserving the artistic form of dance through technique, expression, and innovation. With a strong foundation of classical ballet training and education, the Conservatory also spans a variety of multicultural, contemporary, and other genres of movement and dance. Each class is designed to encourage and stimulate the progress of each student’s mental and physical capabilities. The Conservatory also takes pride in its non-competitive atmosphere to increase the sense of dance as a cooperative and connected form of art.
The Downtown Dance Conservatory serves as the dance department division of the Gadsden Community School for the Arts, which holds full membership to the National Guild of Community Schools for the Arts and also provides more than $20,000 in need based scholarships to its students each year. These projects are operated by the Gadsden Cultural Arts Foundation, and its affiliation with the Alabama State Council on the Arts.
With an enrollment of more than 200 dedicated students training on a weekly basis, the Conservatory’s influence also spans throughout the surrounding community with programs such as Community Workshop Series, Downtown Dance Artists Ensemble, “Dancing with a Heart of Giving” annual Charity effort, Dance History Projects, and other various outreach programs and exhibitions. Along with its excellent foundations of training, students enrolled are exposed to a variety of techniques and an over all knowledge of dance history. Each year, the studio hosts a variety of master teachers from across the state for workshops and supplemental classes.
The Downtown Dance Conservatory has become most known of its expressionistic and innovative style, as well as its entirely original full length classical and contemporary dance productions held each year to sold out audiences. Each student learns the roles of a performer by portraying a character performing a storyline told through the form of dance. These productions are choreographed each year by the Downtown Dance Conservatory’s artistic director of dance studies, Linze Rickles McRae.
McRae is skilled in many genres of dance, but uses her extensive classical ballet training and research as the focus of the curriculum at the DDC. Studying across the country, Linze became an apprentice for many years under Ms. Dee Dee Leda, former artistic director of the Fairfax County Virginia Ballet. Leda’s German origins led to opportunities of studying with the likes of the Bolshoi Ballet and George Balanchine himself. Through many of Linze’s works, this reflection of European technique can be seen. Linze has also studied with names such as Moncia Barnett Smith, Julie Oliver, Kim Wolfe, Jerry Rose, Margi Cole, and many others. She held short residencies in Los Angeles and New York to further her skills in dance and the performing arts. After teaching and performing freelance for many years, she founded the Downtown Dance Conservatory in small location located in the downtown area. One year later, the DDC expanded and united the with the Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts to become the largest classical ballet focused studio in the area. McRae has been honored by the National Federation of Music in Dance and the Professional Dance Teachers Association, as well as being commissioned to choreograph productions for Jacksonville State University, various private studios and conventions, Miss Alabama preliminaries, and the Gadsden Community School for the Arts.
Linze is a member of the Alabama Dance Council, American Fitness Association, and The National Dance Educators Association. She has also been appointed as the choreographer and director of movement for the Artists Without Borders Project. Created in 2004, this project consists of the collaboration of the top visual and performing arts groups of the Gadsden area, including original works with the Etowah Youth Orchestras. In the near future, she will begin study with the internationally recognized Royal Academy of Dance. She uses her ongoing research into the roots of traditional classical ballet and other forms of dance to give students a more clear understanding of technique and freedom of movement.