Hopkinton POS

HCA Spotlight Series Instructor

 HCA Spotlight
 Learn more about the people who call the HCA 'home'.

Paul Champlin, ESL Board of Directors & Founder

As a kid I was a prolific writer of songs, poems, and creator of concepts for movies, plays/musicals and stage shows. I watched and imitated dramatic scenes from great films and learned songs and dances from stage and screen musicals.

In the late 70's the idea of Enter Stage Left Theater came into being. I began producing acts, some of which included original rock and jazz or Broadway style music for talent shows. In high school it evolved from a club of talented schoomates sypathetic to the concept, to the realization of actually providing staged material and some demo recordings. An original semi-improvisational comedy/farce called "Customer Service" gave way to a two-act comedy, "Antics" featuring the same characters and mounted as a fundraiser for the public library. 

Our first full-scale musical production was a 1983 shoe-string production of "Godspell," funded by the Arts Lottery Council and an original musical followed in 1984. We remained active into the late 80s until life events seperated our core contingent. As the original group began to return to the area  we decided to formally incorporate in 1997 and began producing a number of plays, musicals, and cabarets. 

Beginning in 2014, we began our association with what would become the Hopkinton Center for the Arts, but was then called the Cultural Arts Alliance (CAA). We produced three productions in the early 2000's, with proceeds benefitting the Terry Barn and art exhibition space at 98 Hayden Rowe St.

In 2006, we opened the Enter Stage Left Theater Studio and performance venue on Main Street in Hopkinton and in 2010 we once again joined forces with the CAA in a cooperative effort to collobarate towards our common goals.

In November of 2015, I had the honor of directing the first production in the newly constructed Hopkinton Center for the Arts Delbridge Family Performance Space, a production of "Our Town" honoring Hopkinton's Centennial.

The HCA and Enter Stage Left Theater have officially merged this year. Now that ESL has a permanent home at the HCA what exciting opportunities will this bring to HCA's theater family and programming?

With our combined, concentrated and streamlined resources, we hope to have the capability of maximizing our exposure and service to our community. We hope to partner with community agencies where appropriate, not only to entertain, but to enlighten and serve.

You have generously offered an annual scholarship in your name beginning this year for any graduating senior pursuing theater as a college major. What inspired you to make that wonderful gesture?

Our first show as produced in 1982 and we had articulated our desire that the proceeds be allocated toward scholarships. So from very early on, we demonstrated a commitment to assisting those furthering their education. It's a tradition we have tried to continue when resources have permitted. 

Why do you think the ability to create art (in all its forms) is particularly important during these unprecedented times?

The pandemic and accompanying isolation, race equality, and the divisive political climate emphasize our human need to think, feel and express, and to bring people together in creative ways and toward greater understanding. We are faced with many obstacles in producing theater in our current condition, but these obstacles produce the synergy for innovation. Until we can enjy the communal experience that truly live theater brings once more.

Pictured: Enter Stage left Theater founder Paul Champlin presents Hopkinton High School graduate Rebecca Gallant with the ESL Theater Scholarship for $500. Rebecca is attending Bridgewater State University as a freshman pursuing theater education and  secondary education.   

Cathy Fallon, HCA dance instructor

I grew up dancing in a small school in Marblehead, owned by a husband and wife ballroom dance team. I performed mostly Jazz and Broadway style dancing. I received my first classical ballet training at age 17, from Melissa Hayden, who had just retired from New York City Ballet. She introduced me to the ballets of George Balanchine, many of which I was fortunate enough to perform during my career.

After moving to New York, I sought out teachers who could help me build strong technique with a focus on a clean classical line and balanced body alignment. Both of these have always been the basis for my teaching. I trained in New York with Maggie Black, Laurence Rhodes, Christina Bernal, and Nadine Revene. Nadine introduced me to Pilates protege Kathy Grant and I also began studying with her. I danced with ballet companies in New Jersey, Kansas City, and with the Santa Fe Opera. 

While I was still with Kansas City Ballet I took a transformative master class with Twyla Tharp’s company. I turned in my pointe shoes, cut my hair, and moved back New York to study with her and her company members. I went on to dance with several modern companies there.

Toward the end of my performing career, I trained for 3 years to become a teacher of the Alexander Technique. The AT helps you to be aware of how your tension habits interfere with your ease of movement. It completely changed my dancing, and I was able to rediscover the joy of movement which inspired my dance journey. It has a very calming effect and helps you to be more efficient in anything you do in life. All the teaching I do is through an Alexander Technique lens.

A couple years ago I developed a class that combines my work in dance, Pilates, Alexander Technique and developmental movement. It frees the joints and builds core strength and awareness of breath, while you explore the body’s natural spiral movement. I named the class Recurve after a hunting bow that gets its power, as we do, from its curved shape.

How do you approach teaching?  Do you have a particular philosophy? I teach clean clear classical ballet technique. That was my training. I ask my students to prioritize alignment, musicality and expansiveness in their movement. This helps them find the freedom to express themselves fully. I do not impose any style on the training. If your technique is clean you should be able to successfully add any choreographic style to it. This gives a dancer great versatility. I am very demanding, but I also know quite well how difficult ballet training is, so I try to teach with humor and a sensitivity to each dancer’s learning style.

How have you adapted to teaching during the pandemic? Well, all our classes were pretty immediately switched to the Zoom platform. It has been a challenge, mostly because of my unfamiliarity with the technology. The dancers have been remarkable - engaged and patient despite the frustration of not being together and having mere six-foot square dance floors in their living rooms, bedrooms and basements. They have worked hard as ever as we have all been forced to push the envelope of our creativity. Once they are freed from their Zoom squares and get back in the studio they are probably going to burst through the walls. It is going to be amazing.

On a personal level, do you feel dance has helped you adjust during these tumultuous times? My dance training has certainly taught me the reality of “the show must go on.” That discipline helps you to trudge through lots of discomfort. However, I would say my Alexander Technique training is what helps me through my tumultuous times. If I remember to practice it, it helps me choose to respond thoughtfully rather than react to what life throws at me.

Anything else you would like to add? I never thought I would find anything as challenging or as rewarding as dancing. However, soon after I moved here from New York I began horseback riding, and a whole new world of challenges opened up for me. It is like learning to dance a pas de deux with a partner who can’t talk to you. I am able to call on the strength, and balance from my dance training while learning to communicate through movement with a beautiful, intelligent and sensitive animal. Riding my horse is as close to flying as I can get.


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