Class on Stage

Recently, I attended Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet’s production of “Orbo Novo,” brilliantly choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. As I watched the dancers’ intricate torso undulations, extended limbs and feats of ladder climbing, I was transported back to Choreography 101 from my freshman year of college. Because at the foundation of the piece—underneath the costumes and behind the breathtaking partnering and unbelievable floorwork—there lay a checklist of class assignments and studies.
    Inspired by neuroanatomist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s memoir My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey, Cherakaoui’s piece explored humanity’s understanding and experience of harmony with others. The piece began with a well-crafted series of gestures set to Dr. Taylor’s words. Then, as the piece morphed into a more dance-y dance set to driving music composed by Szymon Brzoska, the sort of choreographic element grocery list came to mind. First there was dance with text. Check. Canons; check. A piece exploring vibratory movement juxtaposed with slow motions. Check. Level changes. Dance on structures. Negative and positive space explorations. Dance in silence, check, check, check, check.
    But the elements were weaved together so tactfully, that although their seams were noticeable, each piece fit together to make a larger cohesive work. And in a greater sense, that’s how everything in life works. Unique and individual entities coexist with millions of others—running parallel, perpendicular or not even in relation at all. Which, ultimately, was the concept behind Cherakaoui’s work.

 

Watch a behind-the-scenes rehearsal of Orbo Novo here!

Teachers Trending
Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy. Photo courtesy Dance With Me

Listening to Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy riff together makes it crystal-clear why each has mastered the art of partnering in the ballroom—they've long been doing this dance in real life as brothers and business partners.

Along with their "Dancing with the Stars" pedigree (and a combined three mirror-ball trophies between them), Maks and Val (and their father, Sasha) also run Dance With Me, a dance company hosting six ProAm Dancesport competitions annually and running 14 brick-and-mortar studio locations across the U.S.

Last year, the pair launched an online component, Dance & Co. The online video platform offers beginner through advanced instruction in not only ballroom but an array of other styles, as well as dance fitness classes from HIIT to yoga to strength training. "DWTS" fans will recognize such familiar faces as Peta Murgatroyd, Jenna Johnson, Sharna Burgess and Emma Slater, along with Maks and Val themselves.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
@jayplayimagery, courtesy Kerollis

In the spring of 2012, Barry Kerollis was abruptly forced into treating his career as a small business. Having just moved cross-country to join BalletX, he got injured and was soon let go.

"I'd only ever danced with big companies before," the now-freelance dance-teacher-choreographer-podcaster recalls. "That desperation factor drove me to approach freelancing with a business model and a business plan."

As Kerollis acknowledges, getting the business of you off the ground ("you" as a freelance dance educator, that is) can be filled with unexpected challenges—even for the most seasoned of gigging dancers. But becoming your own CEO can make your work–life balance more sustainable, help you make more money, keep you organized, and get potential employers to offer you more respect and improved working conditions. Here's how to get smart now about branding, finances and other crucial ways to tell the dance world that you mean business.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Courtesy Oleson

American dance educator Shannon Oleson was teaching recreational ballet and street-dance classes in London when the pandemic hit. As she watched many of her fellow U.S. friends pack up and return home from their international adventures, she made the difficult choice to stick with her students (as well as her own training—she was midway through her MFA at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance).

Despite shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders, she was able to maintain a teaching schedule that kept her working with her dancers through Zoom, as well as lead some private, in-home acro classes following government guidelines. But keeping rec students interested in the face of pandemic fatigue hasn't been easy.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.