According to Caldwell, a great lyrical piece begins with the music.

Our Dance Teacher Summit kicks off on Friday, and the full schedule has been posted online. This year we welcome some new faces to the teaching roster, including tWitch and the one and only Twyla Tharp!


After last year's Summit, we spoke to Doug Caldwell about the state of lyrical dance:

A commercial dance mainstay, Caldwell worked on films like Staying Alive and A Chorus Line, as well as the TV show "Charlie's Angels," before beginning to teach at conventions in the 1980s. Caldwell says he was there at the beginning of lyrical dance, 30 years ago, and it has changed quite a bit since then. A teacher with JUMP Dance Convention, as well as the Dance Teacher Summit, he shared his thoughts and advice on the style.

Dance Teacher: If a teacher wants to create a successful lyrical piece, what type of movement should they think about?

Doug Caldwell: The base of really quality lyrical is ballet. The movement has to be very flowing and pretty. Lyrical is about storytelling, emotion, love and light and spirituality.

Pure lyrical is good technique with emotions, but it's never pure lyrical anymore. Somewhere along the way they always have to add gymnastics and tricks. I have a dance studio in my house and taped on the wall is a list of things not to do, like fouettés. Those should be in ballet pieces. You don't need to throw them into lyrical.

Instead of just choreographing, really listen to the music and hear the storyline. Finish the storyline. A lot of competition numbers start out with a story, but by the end you realize they've lost it.

DT: Do lyrical dances have to be done to music with lyrics?

DC: No, but the music played by itself should get a standing ovation. Try to find music like “Vienna," by Linda Eder. It gets to a crescendo and makes the audience so happy as it builds—as opposed to many songs that are flat and just lie there. You need passion—either instrumentation or vocals that soar.

DT: What is your best advice for teachers regarding their personal choreographic process?

DC: Once you start working, go with what comes out. I don't reshape or re-choreograph. I can choreograph a three-minute group piece in two hours. People make it so hard on themselves by changing and changing while their dancers are waiting. Trust your gut and your love. Of course, when you finish a piece, there might be a count of eight here and there that makes you go “Eh, that doesn't quite work," but don't spend three hours on the first two counts of eight.

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
How-To
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
Dancer Health
At age 12, doctors advised Paige Fraser to stop dancing and have surgery. Instead, she chose physical therapy and team of chiropractors and massage specialists to help work through her condition. She has just begun her 5th season with Visceral Dance, based in Chicago.

Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine, when viewed from the back, has one or more curves. The vertebrae are abnormally rotated, which creates twisting and more prominent visibility of the rib cage on one side, and it is most commonly seen in adolescents ages 10 and older. Most cases cannot be reversed, but they can be controlled, for example dancer Paige Fraser who despite suffering from severe scoliosis, has thrived as a dancer. Dance teachers can play an essential role in spotting the condition at an early stage.

“Teachers can help to notice that scoliosis is there in the first place," says Sophia Fatouros, a New York City–based dance teacher and and former professional ballet dancer who has struggled with scoliosis since she was 12. “Parents do not always see their children in tight clothes, like leotards."

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Sebastian Grubb (right) runs Sebastian's Functional Fitness in San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Grubb

From improved aerobic capacity to better reactivity, cross-training can to do wonders for dancers' health and performance. But with the abundance of exercise programs available, how do you get your dancers on the right routine?

Sebastian Grubb, a San Francisco–based fitness trainer and professional dancer, shares three questions to ask as you consider different cross-training options.

Keep reading... Show less
Videos

When choreographer Cristian Faxola learned he had two days to create, develop and shoot a music video as an audition to choreograph for The Squared Division production house, he and his team embraced the challenge.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Thinkstock

I have heard you say that tight hamstrings prevent full extension of the knees and that you prefer hamstring stretches in a standing position, rather than on the floor. Can you explain why?

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox

Win It!

Sponsored