Teetering on the edge of total abandon is a scary but often ultimately rewarding place for a dancer to find himself. "My teacher Alphonse Poulin was constantly challenging me beyond what I thought I could do," says Kevin J. Shannon of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. During his training at Juilliard, Shannon was lucky enough to have Poulin as his ballet teacher for all four years. Poulin's colorful personality encouraged his students to explore a comparable openness in their dancing.
"Sometimes Alphonse would come in and say he'd watched these ridiculous videos of dancers doing absolutely crazy things--and then he'd make us do them! It was hysterical. We'd go across the floor doing five pirouettes with a piqué penchée in the middle. I'd take the step as far as I could go, and I just trusted that one day I'd get there. And that's been a mantra for me in my career: I can take a step to its limits and then come back and reevaluate. I can look at the step and say, 'This is where I went; maybe I don't need to go that far.'"
Shannon will perform with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago May 25-26, at New York City's Joyce Theater. www.hubbardstreetdance.com
Photo by Todd Rosenberg, courtesy of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago