Desiree Robbins, a judge with Tremaine Dance Competitions and the artistic director of the Tremaine National Teen Performing Company, has been on the competition circuit for more than 15 years. She’s seen it all—the good, the bad and the very ugly. As you choreograph new performance routines for the upcoming Regionals season, keep her advice in mind.

What trends do you anticipate for the 2010 Regionals season?
I am looking for a little bit of change in what everybody presents. People are really influenced by “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing with the Stars.” It brings out the best in everybody’s creativity. I’m looking forward to seeing how people use those ideas to bring fresh, new dances to competition. Just don’t try to directly mimic what you see on television.

What do you never want to see at competition again?
At Tremaine, we call it the “crotchma.” It’s the side tilt kick that everyone is doing. Instead of doing a technical side battement or extension, dancers turn their hips and what opens to the audience is something that should not! It’s an incorrect second battement, but they think it’s right because everyone is doing it. Your hips should be facing downstage and the leg should open up to the side of the stage. When the dancers turn their hips, the battement is no longer technically correct. We’ve allowed it to happen for a few years now and people mimic it. But if you don’t know the proper technique, you’re not going to do it correctly, and you’ll get marked down. The judges are thinking, “If I see one more of those, I’m going to die!”

Describe a standout routine from this past year. What made it so special for you?
There was a number called “Swimmin with Women” by In the Spotlight studio in New Jersey. It was a character/musical theater routine and it didn’t have all those elements of turns and jumps and tricks. It was so entertaining and on top of that, done so well, from costuming to staging. It was clear that the dancers and teacher didn’t worry about it being in competition. It was a period piece done right and for entertainment, not just for winning an award. We’re all still talking about it, including Joe Tremaine.

What should teachers keep in mind when they’re choreographing this year?
Always choreograph to the dancers’ abilities. Don’t try to keep up with others in your area or do what you think other people are doing. Stay true to what your dancers do well, whether they’re great turners or can only do a double pirouette. If it’s done right, judges will appreciate it.

What’s trendy on the competition circuit right now?

I think this year there’s going to be a big wave of people going back to classic, linear jazz. Contemporary is trendy, and we love it, but it’s getting oversaturated. The judges and the audience want to see nice, clean dance numbers where the dancers are smiling and the audience can enjoy them and be involved.













photo by Elite Digital

For the past 17 years, the Martha Hill Fund has been honoring the commitment to dance education and international performance embodied by its namesake. Previous award winners have included Carla Maxwell, former artistic director of Limón Dance Company, former Ailey II dancer Frederick Earl Mosley and Mark DeGarmo of Mark DeGarmo Dance.

This year's awards gala takes place tonight at the Manhattan Penthouse in New York City. Check out who's being honored.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health

The Feldenkrais Method is a somatic technique created by Moshe Feldenkrais in the 1950s. The method has two parts: hands-on sessions with a Feldenkrais teacher (Functional Integration) or group classes comprised of verbal cues (Awareness Through Movement).

Mary Armentrout, a dance teacher, choreographer and Feldenkrais practitioner, shares three ways that this somatic practice can bolster your students' training.

Keep reading... Show less
Your Studio

Oversexualizing young kids has been a hot topic among dance teachers in recent years. It's arguably the most controversial topic teachers and studio owners are faced with. Deciding which choreography, music or costumes are appropriate—or not—isn't always black and white and can be easily overlooked. Is showing the midriff too much for minis? Is this choreography too provocative? Is this popular song too suggestive for a competition piece? The questions can seem endless with no clear objective answers. Until now.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
To make dancers stronger and less injury-prone, Burns Wilson suggest adding floor barre or conditioning classes. Photo courtesy of Burns Wilson

With a career spanning 30-plus years in the dance field, Anneliese Burns Wilson has cultivated a unique perspective on health and injury prevention for dancers. From teaching ballet to teaching anatomy, she then founded ABC for Dance, which publishes dance-teaching materials. Now through research for her next book, which will focus on training the female adolescent dancer, she's delving even deeper into topics many dance teachers have overlooked.

Keep reading... Show less
Erdmann (left) on set for "Hairspray Live" (courtesy of Erdmann)

When Wicked ensemble member Kelli Erdman was training at Westlake Dance Center in Seattle, Washington, her teacher Kirsten Cooper taught her that focussed transitions would be pivotal to her success as a dancer. Now as a professional, she applies this advice to her daily performances, asserting that she will never let the details of her dancing get blurry.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers & Role Models
Khobdeh dancing Taylor's Speaking In Tongues. Photo courtesy of PTDC

For Parisa Khobdeh, music does more than set the tone for a piece—it's enabled her to connect with movement. And once she joined Paul Taylor Dance Company in 2003, Taylor's body of work deepened this connection. "His choreography showed me the music, the architecture and the space," she says. "I now see the music."

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Buzz

We haven't been able to stop watching Lil' Mushroom since she popped and locked her way into Ellen's heart last week. We know you've got a long night of teaching ahead, and this is the dance inspiration you need to get you through. Check it out and tell us what you think about her killer moves over on our Facebook page! (She starts blowing minds at about 2:16.)

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox

Win It!

Sponsored