Teachers & Role Models

How Kenny Wormald Discovered What He Calls His "Fred Astaire with Sneakers" Style

Music has always been the driving force behind his dancing, Kenny says. Photo courtesy of Wormald

Following his undeniable excitement from attending a New Kids on the Block concert at age 6, Kenny Wormald's parents enrolled him at the Gold School in Brockton, Massachusetts. Since then, whether he's teaching at a NUVO or Break The Floor convention, running his new studio, Playground L.A., or performing on "Dancing with the Stars," it's fair to say that for the former Justin Timberlake dancer, the music has always been the driving force behind his dancing.


"I'll play the song over and over again, really studying the music, and then it's easier to pick out a snare, or a high-hat or a kick drum," he says, which helps create his dynamic choreography.

Photo courtesy of DTS

This attention to detail and the development of his unique smooth style was solidified in 2007. "Dancing with a live band on Justin's tour was the pinnacle for me," he says. "Since then I'm a huge fan and teacher of what I call the 'Fred Astaire with sneakers on' style." He defines this as a hybrid of the traditional hip-hop style and the street—less-perfect hip hop—plus incorporating all the technique he's had his whole life: tap, modern and jazz. Wormald's dedication to inspiring his students stems from the amazing teachers he grew up taking lessons from. "If I can just challenge one student to work harder, even for one day, that's what really motivates me," he says.

Kenny's latest project is his new studio in West Hollywood, Playground L.A. Photo by Hedi Slimane

With so much music to choose from today, whether it's for a convention class or choreography, he credits Spotify as an invaluable music source. "I have access to almost any song and a lot of new artists," he says. When picking music for convention classes, the song is vital. "There's sometimes 400 to 500 kids in a room, and if they're not motivated by the song, it's hard to get students to attack the choreography the way I want them to. I love when the whole room connects."

Your Studio
Thinkstock

Most dancers are taught from a young age that no matter what happens onstage, the show must go on! Costume rips? Don't stop dancing. Forget the choreography? Don't stop dancing. Fall down? Get back up, but for the love of all things holy, don't stop dancing!

Anna White, teacher and studio director at Melinda Leigh Performing Arts Center in Mobile, Alabama, breaks down how she conveys this message to her students.

Keep reading... Show less
Videos

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.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers & Role Models
Photo by Nathalie Van Empel, courtesy of BYU CFAC

It's been a good month for choreographer and teacher Nick Palmquist. While he's been on DT's radar for quite some time, he burst onto the social-media scene in late November when the biggest professional ballet stars in the country participated in the #nickpalmquistchallenge. Prompted by Palmquist's choreography, stars from Marcelo Gomes to Stella Abrera were digging into the sultry stylized movement of the Steps on Broadway commercial jazz teacher, and sharing it on social media. He now has 38.4K followers and counting.

Keep reading... Show less
Photo by Keren Kraizer, courtesy of Assaf

As a child—with no formal dance training—Roy Assaf knew the transformative power of an audience. Starting from the age of 5, he would prepare dances for family gatherings. "I remember that all the guests would form a circle around me," he says, "and I would execute what I had prepared for that event." Now, as one of the most exciting and wholly original choreographic voices today, Assaf has harnessed that ability to transfix onlookers by creating straight-from-the-gut, highly physical dances that intimate complex inner narratives. The bodies in his Israel-based company weave, rebound, change direction, pant heavily and always move with purpose.

His newest work premiered December 6–10 in New York City. This time, instead of choreographing on his core company of a handful of dancers, he created a work on all 24 of the Juilliard third-year dancers.

Keep reading... Show less
Thinkstock

Q: I'm looking to hire new instructors. How can I create a competitive job listing?

A: We've found the best way to attract qualified applicants for teaching positions at our studio is to be as specific as possible with our expectations, while communicating what makes our studio a great place to work.

Here's an example of a job description we've used when seeking teachers:

Lead Dance Instructor: Tap/Jazz/Contemporary; Choreography for Dance Teams.

Kathy Blake Dance Studios is seeking new instructors to join our faculty. Our performing arts school, located in the Souhegan Valley of New Hampshire, has an emphasis on excellence and love for the art of dance, with a student base aged 2 to adult. We pride ourselves on paying our teachers well, offering a professionally managed front office and fostering a sense of teamwork and collaboration among our staff.

We have an immediate opening for a dance instructor whose specialty is teaching intermediate to advanced tap, jazz and/or contemporary, as well as choreographing for competitive dance teams. We are seeking a creative, forward-thinking teacher who brings out the best in dancers. Schedule of 5 to 10-plus classes a week, based on availability. Position begins in August (or sooner, based on teacher availability). The school year runs from September through June. Pay is competitive and commensurate with experience and credentials.

Interested instructors: Please e-mail or reply to this ad with a current resumé and phone number, as well as what you love about teaching and what matters most to you in working for a dance studio.

Can't teach on our regular schedule? Please let us know if you'd like to be considered for our guest-artist master-class events.

Kathy Blake (Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire) and Suzanne Blake Gerety co-founded DanceStudioOwner.com.

popular
Thinkstock

These four holiday dance videos are the break you need from the madness of the season. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll be recharged enough to dive back into another night of Nutcracker performances. (Yikes—hang in there guys!) Check 'em out, and share your favorite funny holiday dance videos with us on our Facebook page.

XOXO

Keep reading... Show less
Win It

Win It!

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox

Win It!

Sponsored