Music for contemporary 

Queen of the dance domain: Sobol and her all-male Capezio A.C.E. Awards cast

You won’t find a set warm-up—or really any warm-up at all—in Erica Sobol’s contemporary classes at Movement Lifestyle studio and EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles. Instead, Sobol—who is the 2013 Capezio A.C.E. Award winner—begins class with a meditation, asking her students to lie on their backs, close their eyes, focus on their breath and be still. “If we know what it’s like to be totally still with purpose,” Sobol says, “then we can move with purpose.” Post-meditation, she gives her students 10 minutes to warm themselves up and then jumps right into choreography.

While her approach might seem unorthodox, Sobol came to it after trying out a few alternatives: To add clout to her class, she jam-packed her first teaching gigs with warm-ups that felt forced. “I felt like I needed to give some sort of technical warm-up to these kids,” Sobol says. “I was doing exercises that I didn’t even understand myself.” Now that she’s been around the teaching block a few times, she is more comfortable leaving her students to their own devices. “My body is so different from other dancers’ bodies,” she says. “I’m teaching high-level classes—they know what to do with their own bodies.” DT

Gregory Alan Isakov, This Empty Northern Hemisphere and The Weatherman

“His music is really mellow and emotional, and his lyrics are kooky. I use it for meditation almost every single day for class and just to stir my guts and my heart.”




Ben Howard, Every Kingdom

“I started working exclusively with men right around the time this album came into my life. There’s something essentially masculine about the whole album without it feeling inaccessible to me as a woman. I feel it on all fronts: as a woman, as a creator, as a human with a heart, as a music lover.”



Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Up From Below

“My assistant and I practice yoga together to this. It’s hippie music, but it always makes me want to move. The lead singer’s voice is really special.”




The Tallest Man On Earth, “Love is All”

“I’ve been listening to this on repeat, and it’s what my newest bit of choreography has been set to—it’s one of those songs that I never get sick of. It’s really silly and special and heartbreaking. It’s this tiny gem, three and a half minutes long.”




Volcano Choir, Repave

“The whole album feels like a giant kick to the gut for me. It’s so beautiful and loud and right on and weird, and there’s a song for every moment.”




Photo by Max Bronner, courtesy of Sobol

Dancers from Hart Academy of Dance in La Habra, CA at Spotlight Events. Photo by DancePix, courtesy of Spotlight Events

One can never be too prepared. When things break, rip and get left on the bus, that doesn't need to ruin the show. From first-aid to back-up music, here's a handy check-list of what not to forget.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Photo by Igor Burlak, courtesy of Tamara King

A raspy voice and sore muscles are not obligatory for teachers, but that's often what happens after hours of teaching. Being a dance teacher is physically, mentally and emotionally demanding. Unfortunately, whether it's because you're pressed for time or that you're focused solely on your students, self-care isn't always the top priority. You might think you don't have time to attend to your personal well-being, but what you really don't have time for is an injury. Here are seven strategies that will help keep you injury-free and at the top of your game.

Keep reading... Show less
It takes strength and suppleness to reach new heights of flexibility. (Photo by Emily Giacalone; dancer: Dorothy Nunez)

There is a flexibility freak show going on in the dance world. Between out-of-this-world extensions on “So You Think You Can Dance" and a boundaries-pushing contemporary scene, it seems the bar for bendiness gets higher every year.

Keep reading... Show less

When I am lying down on my back with my feet together and knees apart and press down on my knees, my hips pop. It feels really good. However, now when my hips don't pop, they hurt, and my lower back starts to hurt as well. What do I do to get them to pop, and is it even healthy?

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Buzz

Bobbi Jene is another poignant film to add to this year's must-see list of dance documentaries.

After 10 years living in Israel and dancing with Ohad Naharin's Batsheva Dance, American dancer Bobbi Jene Smith decides to leave the company –and the life she's come to know–in search of finding her own path as a dancer and choreographer.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Photo by Jim Lafferty; modeled by Sydney Magruder, courtesy of Broadway Dance Center

"If you don't have strong abdominal muscles, you sag into your lower back, your pelvis usually tips and you're hanging out and slumped into your hip joints," says Deborah Vogel, movement analyst, neuromuscular expert and co-founder of the Center for Dance Medicine in New York City. "It just has this whole chain reaction."

The effects of poor core strength can be dire for dancers: from weak and tight hip flexors, which negatively impact extensions, to lower-back discomfort and misaligned shoulders and necks. "Having well-toned abdominals for your posture is the primary reason why you should do stabilizing exercises," says Vogel. "It will allow you to bring your pelvis into correct alignment and good posture."

Keep reading... Show less
In Motion's senior company dancers and Candice after a showcase performance in Bermuda, (2016). Photo courtesy of Culmer-Smith

When I was 23, an e-mail circulated among my former college dance classmates at Towson University, regarding a teaching position as the jazz director at the In Motion School of Dance studio in Bermuda. I applied, and after a few e-mails, I got offered the job.

Four weeks later, I packed up my tiny little car in Denver, where I was a dancer for the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, and drove across the country to my hometown in Maryland, before flying out for my new life in Bermuda.

Looking back now, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I didn't have time to think through how I should prepare and what I needed to do to officially apply for a work permit. I was mostly concerned with how I was going to pack all my clothes and belongings into two suitcases. If I could go back, I wish I would've had a more specific guide to what teaching in another country entailed.

In an effort to share my experience, here's what I wish I would've known before I left and what I learned over my 10 years living and working as a dance teacher abroad.

Keep reading... Show less





Get DanceTeacher in your inbox

Win It!