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.
Mike Harson's coffers show the advantage of incumbency.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council will vote on an ordinance for final adoption Tuesday that, if approved, would give the city the green light to take over a stretch of Verot School Road from the state Department of Transportation and Development.
The Louisiana Association of Educators filed a lawsuit challenging the $60 million in spending through Louisiana's public school financing formula.
He's been out of office for nearly a decade, but former U.S. Sen. John Breaux is back on the campaign trail, urging voters to support his one-time colleague, Democrat Mary Landrieu.
The unresolved fate of the ashes left behind after Ebola waste was destroyed in Texas highlights the problem U.S. hospitals and communities could face in disposing of their own waste.
Lafayette manufactured home or Scott two bedroom home
Cajun fan fierce
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
While much of the talk was about whether New Orleans could win a big game — or any game, for that matter — on the road, the conversation in the Saints' locker room was about something completely different.
State health officials told thousands of doctors planning to attend a tropical diseases meeting this weekend in New Orleans to stay away if they have been to certain African countries or have had contact with an Ebola patient in the last 21 days.
Republicans are calling on Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu to apologize after she suggested Thursday that President Barack Obama's deep unpopularity in the South is partly tied to race.
Compared to the rest of the country, Lafayette has it pretty good when it comes to the cost and speed of our Internet.
Hello Kitty turns 40; police ambush suspect caught; Knicks surprise Cavs and more national and international news for Friday, October 31, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
The Lafayette City-Parish Council will consider on Tuesday a revised plan to the transform a block in Downtown Lafayette into a mixed-use residential-retail-commercial development that doesn’t include giving title to the property to the Lafayette Public Trust Finance Authority, an arrangement the council rejected earlier this month.
Trying to combat the national undertones of Louisiana's U.S. Senate race, Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu is traveling the state this week on a sort of pork celebration tour, telling voters about the projects and aid she's delivered to Louisiana.
Ever thought that big, pink Gulf coast shrimp you ordered at the restaurant or bought from the store didn't taste juicy or salty enough? Maybe it wasn't from the Gulf.
The state treasurer won't sign financial documents needed for $200 million in borrowing or for a refinancing of existing debt until he believes they accurately explain the surplus disagreement.
Homecoming outfits with ease
Acadian style home in St. Martinville or traditional Breaux Bridge home
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Bill Cassidy voted for 97 percent of the bills signed by Barack Obama.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is joining South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on her campaign bus tour.
A New Iberia man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a 4-year-old girl and scalding her 3-year-old brother.
A district judge decided Wednesday against sanctioning attorney/school board candidate Dawn Morris for her behind-the-scenes role in a lawsuit against Mark Cockerham.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler says Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration may have improperly destroyed records in the state employee health insurance program, in the middle of a heavily-criticized rewrite of benefit plans.
Paper cites the former ADA's "experience as a prosecutor, his demonstrated integrity, and his ideas for reshaping the [DA's] office" in urging voters to support Keith Stutes Nov. 4.
Louisiana officials have sent a letter to the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene un-inviting members of the group who have recently been to ebola-affected West African countries from attending the group’s annual conference in New Orleans next week.
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints have to find a way to win on the road if they plan to take over first place in the NFC South.
"It is obvious that Louisiana economic performance has not outperformed the South or the United States as a whole and, in fact, has substantially underperformed..."