DT Awards

The 2009 Dance Teacher Awards: Teodoro Morca

TEODORO MORCA
Taos Academy of Dance Arts
Taos, NM
dancetaos.com




Teodoro Morca spent 11 years performing flamenco professionally—sharing the stage with legends like José Greco and Pilar Lopez—before ever teaching a class. Then, one life-changing day in 1958, his instructor Martin Vargas asked him to fill in as a substitute teacher. Morca quickly discovered a new passion. Now, with a teaching career spanning more than 50 years, Morca is the first flamenco instructor to receive a Dance Teacher Award.

Morca, who will celebrate his 75th birthday this fall, currently instructs about 30 teens and adults at Taos Academy of Dance Arts in Taos, New Mexico, and another 14 students at the University of New Mexico–Taos. He’s outlined his distinctive teaching methods in two books and an instructional DVD, which emphasize complete training in the cultural history of flamenco music and dance, as well as the development of technique. This allows dancers to “look, feel and understand flamenco,” Morca says, adding that he first focuses on training the upper body. “If you have that, the footwork floats,” he says.

Part of Morca’s strength as a teacher comes from his outgoing personality and his ability to have his students “become the dance,” says Tamara Saj, artistic director of Cape Fear Arte Flamenco in North Carolina. She considers Morca her mentor. “After working with him regularly for years now, it’s like having an uncle with three lifetimes’ worth of amazing stories. His energy is palpable, his love for the art infectious and his appreciation of his students inspiring.”

In addition to teaching five days a week at the dance studio and taking ballet barre three times a week, Morca is currently planning his 25th Morca All-Flamenco Workshop and Fiesta, which will run August 3–8 at his studio. He started the workshop series in 1974 at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in an effort to introduce a wider range of people to flamenco, then little-known in America. Ted Shawn, founder of Jacob’s Pillow, called Morca a “superb artist and excellent teacher.” Today, the relocated workshop features conditioning, technique and repertoire classes with live guitar and singing accompaniment, as well as lectures, discussions and movies.

"I hope my students develop a respect for the artform as well as learning the technique,” Morca says. “When my students get better and grow in their dance, I feel fulfilled—they are a part of me.”

—Hannah Maria Hayes

Photo courtesy of Teodoro Morca

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
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