When Matt Steffanina needs music inspiration for his class at Millennium Dance Complex or for a dance tutorial video, he asks his nearly 3 million Instagram followers. "I'll read through the comments of my post, listen to suggestions and pick whatever I'm vibing with that day," he says.
Tired of the go-to dark and emotionally charged songs popular within contemporary dance, Marinda Davis has recently been choreographing to Broadway musicals and Frank Sinatra classics. "I'm afraid contemporary could easily become a fad, not a long-lasting genre, if we're not careful," she says. "We have to explore other types of music, versus doing what everyone else keeps doing."
Roshe (center) teaching at Steps on Broadway in New York City. Photo by Jacob Hiss, courtesy of Roshe
Although Debbie Roshe's class doesn't demand perfect technique or mastering complicated tricks, her intricate musicality is what really challenges students. "Holding weird counts to obscure music is harder," she says of her Fosse-influenced jazz style, "but it's more interesting."
Photo by Julianna D. Photography, courtesy of Abreu
Although Rudy Abreu is currently JLo's backup dancer and an award-winning choreographer—his piece "Pray" tied for second runner-up at the 2018 Capezio A.C.E. Awards, and a variation of the piece made it to the finals on NBC's "World of Dance"—he still finds time to teach. Especially about how he hears music.
With the physical demands required of dancers today, conditioning and injury-prevention are more important than ever. So it's no secret that dance teachers are constantly in search of new ways to challenge, strengthen and build upon their dancers' training—safely.
When Erica Marr discovered ballroom dancing in her late teens, she instantly fell in love with the Latin beats and strong drum lines that challenged her musicality. After shifting her focus away from contemporary and jazz, she began studying with elite ballroom coaches in New York City and quickly earned a World Championship title in her division.
Pulling someone else's hair up into a bun can be rough. Hairstyling might not be your speciality, slicking back whispies can seem impossible, even with copious amounts of hairspray, and the 3- or 4-year-old you're "working" with might not have the patience to sit still. We know, we know, it can be frustrating!
So before you pull your own hair out, watch Jenna Bitterman, a teacher at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School Children's Division and member of ABT's Artistic Board of Examiners, show you how it's done.
Bartlett, front and center, leading a class. Photo by Arthur Fink, courtesy of Bartlett
When Hollis Bartlett began attending NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in 2007, the modern-dance faculty urged students to explore the relationship between composed music and dancing. Coming from a studio that typically used popular tunes or songs with lyrics, rather than scores by Philip Glass or John Cage, Bartlett found this valuable, yet challenging. "Now, as an artist I can fight that rule," says Bartlett, who's danced with Doug Varone and Dancers for seven years.