Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011
Her professional dance career derailed by scoliosis, Gina Hanchey spun her love of ballet into a vibrant new enterprise. by Emily Henagan
When Gina and Matt Hanchey transplanted their labor of love, The Ballet Académie, to the hub of downtown Lafayette, they orchestrated a simultaneous juxtaposition of classical and contemporary dance and mingled art with business. And Gina, the co-owner and instructor of the 2,400-square-foot revamped building, didn’t make the move by happenstance; she relocated her business with the kind of timed precision found in arabesques and assemblés.
“I want to make this space more open to the artists in the community and more open to the community, as well as promote more dance downtown and more of a performing arts kind of vibe,” says Hanchey. “This is a perfect area because we have all the amenities downtown. They can rehearse; they can stay a block away; they can walk to restaurants.”
Hanchey is already aligning this vibe by collaborating with Paige Krause, Acadiana Center for the Arts’ education coordinator and artist-in-residence, to incorporate modern ballet classes into The Ballet Académie’s curriculum. Hanchey is also coinciding her open house with the Fall Fest Art Walk Saturday, Sept. 10. It will feature work by family friend and local artist Kelly Guidry and will also showcase tattoo artist Jake G’s works and graphic designer Josh Strickland’s digitally created images.
“So, I’m trying to think beyond just the students,” Hanchey continues. “Students are still the primary focus, but I really want to try to get more of a community in here and house touring companies for rehearsals. Also, that is so beneficial for the students to see professionals rehearsing.”
Hanchey instructs her students, who range in age from 5 to mid-40s, on a well-sprung floor that protects the dancers from injury.
“Gina is very professional,” says student Elizabeth Romig, a wife and mother of two boys. “She focuses on each student individually at his/her level. No matter what level you come in, she will push you to the next level. She keeps things moving, and no two classes are the same.”
And though Hanchey is known as an instructor who pushes her pupils, other students are quick to point out that she’s perfected a delicate balance of perseverance and fun.
“It’s not so hard that you get frustrated, but it’s not so easy that you get bored,” adds student Amber Wright, a Mobile, Ala., native. “It’s such a positive environment.”
This environment consists of a sprawling 1,000-square-foot dance floor that faces mirrorless walls, an aesthetic conceived by Hanchey.
“We will have a mirror on the side wall because there are times when it’s beneficial for the dancer to see her moves on the mirror,” she explains. “But when they’re dancing in the center or across the floor, it’s as if they’re on the stage; there are no mirrors on the stage. It really allows the girls to focus on their lines and not try to see what they look like in the mirrors. In ballet everything has to be exact and the minute you just shift your eyes a little, you’ve lost your balance or you’ve lost your line. Not having a mirror in the middle of the dance floor has been amazing.”
Hold a mirror up to the slender, striking Hanchey and you will never realize that she suffers from a crippling form of scoliosis that decimated her professional dancing career aspirations and almost annihilated her mobility. Hanchey’s childhood physician advised her to begin ballet lessons to help combat her scoliosis, but it was this scoliosis that also cut her dancing career short.
Doctors told her without surgery she would not be able to walk by age 35, and her health insurance would not cover the then-$600,000 surgery because it was a pre-existing condition. Cedars-Sinai surgeons performed the surgery pro bono on Hanchey, then 28 and living Los Angeles. Since fully recovering, she has become the principal dancer in her own life, juggling choreography, marriage, motherhood and screenplay writing.
“After a year of bed rest after the surgery, I was so thankful to get up and be active,” says Hanchey, now 37. “I felt so lucky. I said, ‘Let’s party; let’s do something.’ I did do something.”
Whether coordinating and choreographing her students for the school’s annual spring performance at the AcA’s Moncus Theater or feeding a city that hungers for dance doubling as art, Hanchey is doing much more than something.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
C & C Technologies, HIT Fitness, R3 Sciences, the Acadiana Symphony Association and the United Way of Acadiana recognized for innovation.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra has decided to end its traditional Independence Day spectacular known as Red White & Boom.
Under the deal, Teche shareholders would get 1.162 shares of IberiaBank for each share of Teche stock.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
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Dave Perkins, LCG Comp Plan honored along with local architects and designers at the 2014 INDesign Awards
Greg Manuel’s Lafayette-based residential development company is taking advantage of exponential industrial growth in Lake Charles.
Longtime Lafayette retailer ventures online.
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Thanks to cutting-edge digital technology, more and more consumers are banking on ATMs and mobile phones.
Regional bank bids farewell to Downtown May 30
ABiz takes a look back at the most noteworthy moments for the local banking industry over the last year.
Most experts say short-term interest rates will be unchanged through 2014, but long-term rates are inching up.
Largest recruitment event in Acadiana returns May 21 to the Cajundome Convention Center
A lawyer’s ad should only be a starting point, as there is much more to consider when seeking quality representation.
Thanks to the inaugural 2012 INNOV8, a design for lifting heavy objects was brought to market.
The annual juried competition recognizes excellence in architecture, interior design and historic preservation in Lafayette and the five surrounding parishes.
Cypress Bayou GM hosts open house.
New hires, promotions, transfers in Acadiana business
The scion of a landmark Four Corners restaurant climbs back into Lafayette’s culinary scene as franchisee for a popular burger chain.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.