November 24, 2010 | by Peter Rosenstein
Sharing a passion for dance

Alvaro Maldonado grew up in war-torn El Salvador and credits his life today to being enrolled by his mother in the prestigious El Salvador National School of Ballet. (Photo courtesy of Maldonado)

Great art, they say, is frequently born out of hardship. It’s an adage with which Alvaro Maldonado can relate.

Maldonado is the founder and director of the Ballet Teatro Internacional (BTI). Members of the BTI Troupe recently performed at the Shakespeare Theatre’s Harman Center for the Arts. Alvaro is a gifted dancer who studied from a young age and believes in using the power of dance to transform young people’s lives. He is an entrepreneur, producer, teacher, choreographer, dancer and singer. But above all he is dedicated to dance and to what dance can do for people.

Alvaro grew up in war-torn El Salvador and often credits his life today to being enrolled by his mother at the age of 8 in the prestigious El Salvador National School of Ballet. At 14, he began his professional career, which eventually led to him performing in more than 30 countries. Along the way he received additional training at the Washington Ballet, School of Ballet and the Alvin Ailey Company in New York City.

Alvaro arrived in Washington, D.C., at the age of 17, already a veteran dancer. He met Michael Everts who became a friend and they formed a business partnership. Everts opened FIT as a training gym in 2001 and Alvaro joined him as a partner in the business in 2003. FIT, located on the corner of 17th and Q streets, N.W., is now one of the premier training gyms in the Metro D.C. area.

Although Alvaro enjoys his work as a trainer at FIT he has always wanted to continue to dance before he ages out (his words), and to bring the joy of dance to the young people of the District and to those that are just young at heart.

“I believe that we need arts programming in our schools across the nation and here in D.C.,” he said. “I want to help to create such programming. I believe we need structured long term programs.” He added, “I have a desire to give back to society what I was given as a child in El Salvador; the opportunity to participate in such programming which ended up giving me my career.”

Alvaro says that dance can bring structure and balance to a child’s life even if they don’t go into it as a career. His belief is that through the arts, and in his case dance, these programs open up new worlds to young people that they may have never thought of or had the opportunity to explore.

To accomplish his dream he has worked countless hours leading to the opening of his dance studio. In July, BTI Dance Institute Studio opened its doors on the second floor at 1515 14th St., N.W., in the heart of Logan Circle. The Institute will eventually combine Alvaro’s three passions in its programming with a Youth Dance Training Program, Community Outreach Program and the Adult Dance and Fitness Program. BTI Dance Institute is a non-profit training facility that Alvaro created under the umbrella of his BTI Dance Company.

The studio has a number of ongoing classes and there are always new ones in which you can enroll. One fun ongoing one is the “Glee” class. Inspired by the popular TV show the five-week class has an instructor/choreographer and a vocal coach teaching students two “Glee” numbers from the show after which students are offered an informal performance opportunity at the BTI studios. There will also be ongoing regular “Glee” classes, so whether you want to live your inner Kurt or Rachel, you can learn to perform as you now only can in your dreams. Other classes include ballet for those over 50, an Argentine Tango class for beginners, and a belly dance six-week series.

For anyone interested in dance, whether it is for performance, health and fitness or just for fun, contact the BTI Dance Institute Studio,  HYPERLINK “http://www.btidance.org” btidance.org.

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