A Conversation with Jodi Melnick

Jodi Melnick has trouble sitting still. At the end of this interview, she confessed that she’d been moving around in the studio while talking. “I’m holding the phone and sort of moving to find the words,” she said. This isn’t really surprising, given Melnick’s past and present dance life. After performing with companies—Twyla Tharp, Sara Rudner and John Jasperse, to name a few—she’s now enjoying a second career of sorts as a freelance artist, often performing as a soloist. This October, she will premiere Moment Marigold at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City as part of the Next Wave Festival. Her new piece will have a bit of a twist, however: She’ll be dancing with two other women. But Melnick is careful not to refer to the piece as a trio; instead, she says, “I feel like we’re just three individuals working with someone who’s leading—which is me.”

On success “Don’t you remember the first time you really fell in love? You know, when you finally get the boyfriend and you know it’s going to work out? And then you realize nothing changed: You’re still the same, neurotic, freakazoid human being, miserable—you just have a great boyfriend. It’s kind of like that. Nothing’s changed.

Her choreographic lineage “I carry all this knowledge in my body: Going through Sara Rudner’s body, being with John Jasperse in his mind, Trisha [Brown]’s wildness and silvery, slipper movement. But I’ve never been in the studio and felt, ‘I can’t do that because it’s so of someone else.’ And if I ever did have that experience, it would be an absolute joy. Like, ‘Oh, I’m channeling that person.’”

On teaching “In the beginning, the teaching was more about me learning about my body and my dancing and my communication. And as I got older, in the last decade, it has really shifted. It’s not about me. It’s about the generosity that just happens naturally. I give it all away to my students. I just want them to have it all.”

How she works “Beginnings are always so interesting and devastating. Usually I’m alone in the studio, with an image, trying not to make edits or judgments. Just developing movement. For this work [Moment Marigold], my jumping-off point is the act of dancing, the love of physical expression—who knows how much longer it’s going to be able to run through my body? So I’m trying to push myself physically. Not virtuosically, just being concentrated and keeping my intention.” DT

Training: BFA from Purchase College, SUNY

Performance/choreography:

Danced with Twyla Tharp, Sara Rudner, Susan Rethorst, Vicky Shick, Trisha Brown and John Jasperse; presented as a freelance artist by Dance Theater Workshop, American Dance Festival, Vail International Dance Festival and Fall for Dance Festival

Teaching credits: Adjunct professor at Barnard College

Photo by Stephanie Berger, courtesy of BAM

Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Jerome Capasso, courtesy of Man in Motion

Finding a male dance instructor who isn't booked solid can be a challenge, which is why a New York City dance educator was inspired to start a network of male dance professionals in 2012. Since then, he's tripled his roster of teachers and is actively hiring.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

You've got the teaching talent, the years of experience, the space and the passion—now all you need are some students!

Here are six ideas for getting the word out about your fabulous, up-and-coming program! We simply can't wait to see all the talent you produce with it!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Todd Rosenberg, courtesy of HSDC

This fall Hubbard Street Dance Chicago initiates an innovative choreographic-study project to pair local Chicago teens with company member Rena Butler, who in 2018 was named the Hubbard Street Choreographic Fellow. The Dance Lab Choreographic Fellowship is the vision of Kathryn Humphreys, director of HSDC's education, youth and community programs. "I am really excited to see young people realize possibilities, and realize what they are capable of," she says. "I think that high school is such an interesting, transformative time. They are right on the edge of figuring themselves out."

Keep reading... Show less
Getty Images

Q: What policies do you put in place to encourage parents of competition dancers to pay their bills in a timely manner?

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Photo courtesy of Kim Black

For some children, the first day of dance is a magic time filled with make-believe, music, smiles and movement. For others, all the excitement can be a bit intimidating, resulting in tears and hesitation. This is perfectly natural, and after 32 years of experience, I've got a pretty good system for getting those timid tiny dancers to open up. It usually takes a few classes before some students are completely comfortable. But before you know it, those hesitant students will begin enjoying the magic of creative movement and dance.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Photo via @igor.pastor on Instagram

Listen up, dance teachers! October 7 is National Frappe Day (the drink), but as dance enthusiasts, we obviously like to celebrate a little differently. We've compiled four fun frappé combinations on Instagram for your perusal!

You're welcome! Now, you can thank us by sharing some of your own frappé favs on social media with the hashtag #nationalfrappeday.

We can't wait to see what you come up with!

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
Original photos: Getty Images

We've been dying to hear more about "On Pointe," a docuseries following students at the School of American Ballet, since we first got wind of the project this spring. Now—finally!—we know where this can't-miss show is going to live: It was just announced that Disney+, the new streaming service set to launch November 12, has ordered the series.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Tony Nguyen, courtesy of Jill Randall

Recently I got to reflect on my 22-year-old self and the first modern technique classes I subbed for at Shawl-Anderson Dance Center in Berkeley, California. (Thank you to Dana Lawton for giving me the chance and opportunity to dive in.)

Today I wanted to share 10 ideas to consider as you embark upon subbing and teaching modern technique classes for the first time. These ideas can be helpful with adult classes and youth classes alike.

As I like to say, "Teaching takes teaching." I mean, teaching takes practice, trial and error and more practice. I myself am in my 23rd year of teaching now and am still learning and growing each and every class.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Misti Ridge teaches class at Center Stage Performing Arts Studio. Photo by Arlyn Lawrence , courtesy of Ridge

The dance teachers who work with kids ages 5–7 have earned themselves a special place in dance heaven. They give artists the foundation for their future with impossibly high energy and even higher voices. Enthusiasm is their game, and talent is their aim! Well, that, self-esteem, a love for dance, discipline and so much more!

These days, teachers often go a step beyond giving tiny dancers technical and performative bases and make them strong enough to actually compete at a national level—we're talking double-pirouettes-by-the-time-they're-5-years-old type of competitive.

We caught up with one such teacher, Misti Ridge from Center Stage Performing Arts Studio, The Dance Awards 2019 and 2012 Studio of The Year, to get the inside scoop on how she does it. The main takeaway? Don't underestimate your baby competition dancers—those 5- to 7-year-olds can work magic.

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
Patrick Randak, Courtesy In The Lights PR

The ability to communicate clearly is something I've been consumed with for as long as I can remember. I was born in the Bronx and always loved city living. But when I was 9, a family crisis forced my mom to send me to Puerto Rico to live with my grandparents. I only knew one Spanish word: "hola." I remember the frustration and loneliness of having so many thoughts and feelings and not being able to express them.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Success with Just for Kix
Courtesy Just for Kix

As a teacher or studio owner, customer service is a major part of the job. It's easy to dread the difficult sides of it, like being questioned or criticized by an unhappy parent. "In the early years, parent issues could have been the one thing that got me to give up teaching," says Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix and a teacher and studio owner with over 43 years of experience. "Hang in there—it does get easier."

We asked Clough her top tips for dealing with difficult parents:

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox