Teaching Tips

Ask the Experts: How Do I Prep Students for Learning Quickly From a Guest Choreographer?

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Q: We are bringing in guest choreographers to set pieces on our dancers for the first time this summer. My students are used to learning choreography from their directors over the course of a few weeks, and I'm worried they will struggle picking up so much in a condensed amount of time. How can I prepare them to learn movement quickly?


A: Learning how to pick up guest choreography is such a great experience for all dancers. Congratulations for taking on that challenge. I've found that workshop classes can be an excellent tool for teaching dancers how to pick up choreography quickly. The combinations at workshops are usually taught at a fast pace, since time is limited, and are a great way to prepare students for the full choreography session. Try hosting workshops at your classes regularly in preparation for the incoming choreographer.

Whenever we have a new guest choreographer in town, I hire them to teach an open class before they start their choreography. This allows dancers to practice the style of their choreography while simultaneously allowing the choreographer to see how our dancers move. It also gives some of our students who may not be in the piece the opportunity to work with the guest teacher.

As studio teachers, we are the meat and potatoes of our dancers' education, but adding in some guest choreography work is the delicious gravy that will be largely beneficial to their training.

News
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"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

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Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

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Originally from central New York State, Funsch spent 20 years performing in the Bay Area, where she also started her own company, Funsch Dance Experience. "My choreographic work from that time is in the dance-theater experiential, fantasy realm of performance," she says. "I also started blending genres and a lot of urban styles found their way into my choreography."

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Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

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