This sequence takes dancers through several foundational poses of the Giordano jazz technique. These positions aren't stagnant—they flow together with continuous energy. Nan Giordano stresses that the dancer's powerful gaze is quintessential to authentic technique. "That's my dad's look—the Giordano eyes," she says. "All the intensity comes through the eyes, focusing and imagining, but not seeing anything."
This month's winner is a lyrical piece to "Wounded Animal" by Mary Lambert, performed at the Turn It Up Dance Challenge. Before setting the movement, Ashley Zelano, choreographer and artistic director at the Fierce Dance Academy in New Castle, Delaware, took a cautious approach with the 11 teenage dancers. The song describes the despair felt in a relationship where one party can't fully commit. But she understood that her teenage students might not relate to what inspires her as an adult.
As a dancer and the assistant director of New York City–based contemporary dance troupe Kate Weare Company, Douglas Gillespie takes to the floor like a duck takes to water. Whether he's sliding, falling, pushing, rolling or holding a plank, he knows just what he needs to do to protect his body. Here, Gillespie shares three tips for keeping floorwork safe, easy and fun.
When New York City–based dancer Dan Lai began choreographing Figure 8, he had a specific vision in mind. Inspired by a song by FKA Twigs, he wanted the movement to represent the music's "dark and twisted vibe." "My thought process was to make shapes and phrases that were abstract and unique that complimented the intricate beats of the music," he says.
Because the chassé is often neglected during the execution of this traveling step, Judy Rice asks her students to do a minimum of a six-inch chassé before transitioning into the pas de bourrée. She encourages dancers to pay close attention to their shoulders and hips in effacé, too. "Kids tend to open it up. They look like they're fencing," she says. "You don't want that." Both shoulders and hip bones should be facing the corner.
If you haven't seen this yet, please enjoy this clip of Martha Graham Dance Company artistic director Janet Eilber (she's a former Graham principal) teaching the students of Harvard Law School an excerpt of Lamentation. (You'd recognize the piece—it's perhaps Graham's most famous, in which she's constrained by a stretchy piece of fabric.) The video was taken by Damian Woetzel, who co-teaches The Law and the Performing Arts with Jeannie Suk Gersen.
Following the introduction to Martha Graham through movement, Janet and Graham executive director LaRue Allen spoke to the class about dance and copyright and other legal issues.
Want to see the OG version? Here's Graham doing excerpts from the piece in 1934, at Bennington College:
Hands-on teaching needs to be approached in a delicate fashion, according to MOST dance teachers. But in a recent video that surfaced online, a ballet teacher is correcting a student's turnout, which is one of the most common corrections given, and appears to have gone too far.
Because of his own hyperextended knees, Mark Morris Dance Group member Billy Smith pays particular attention to the condition in his students. Locked knees, he says, lead to locked hips, denying your full mobility. This combination requires a straight and stable supporting leg through both a rond de jambe en l'air and a promenade. Softening behind the knees to counteract hyperextension allows you to fully access your turnout and stand easier.