"If I hear another dancer say, 'I don't like to plié,'" says Broadway Dance Center contemporary teacher Tracie Stanfield, "I am going to scream!" This frustration was the inspiration behind Stanfield's progression video, which focuses on level changes. The combination, demonstrated by dancers Gaby Blaney and Lexie Childers, starts with an over-crossed passé and builds into floorwork and landing on the tops of the feet. The series challenges dancers to build strength while staying grounded. "They learn to let the body soften on contact with the floor before throwing themselves from the air to the ground," she says.
Mark Stuart's latest work, When Change Comes, opens this weekend in Rockville Centre, New York. The show confronts social issues throughout American history and asks the question: Can the act of "seeing" each other without judgment or fear break the cycle of intolerance?
Travis Wall is having a good week.
After being honored at a nomination reception for the upcoming Emmy awards show, a new poignant piece of Wall's was featured on Season 15 of "SYTYCD." Choreographed for contestants Taylor Sieve and Darius Hickman to "It Takes a Lot to Know a Man," by Damien Rice, the piece was not only technically beautiful, it shed light on the issue of gender and the LGBTQ perspective—an topic rarely confronted on the FOX show.
"As a gay man, i hear all the time why "SYTYCD" has avoided gay topics and stories, and asked men to always dance masculine," Wall posted on Instagram. He went on to write that he wants the show to tackle these sensitive issues. Read the full post below.
In a previous post, Wall revealed that initially Rice denied the use of the song on the show. However, after the brazen choreographer contacted the singer/songwriter directly, explaining the context and importance of this specific track, the usage rights were granted.
Watch the powerful performance below (starting at 1:58). Definitely, one for the books!
This month's winner tells the story of immigrants traveling to America who experience tragedy before reaching the shore. Michael Susten, New York City–based choreographer and teacher, was initially inspired by the song "This is Not the End," by Clare Maguire. "Her voice really painted a picture in my head," says Susten. "I could hear the heartbreak." Instead of sharing the story he envisioned with the 12 young dancers at Prestige Academy of Dance, he first focused on teaching them the choreography.
After a long day of getting the steps down, he then asked the dancers to create a character for their role in the piece. He wanted the team to explore how each individual perspective contributed to the narrative as a whole. "I think it helps keep the performance honest and new every time, instead of feeling too robotic and over-rehearsed," says Susten.
For many dancers, creating resistance with choreography can be difficult and cause some to flail their limbs with a lack of intention. Or as contemporary teacher and artistic director of SynthesisDance Tracie Stanfield describes perfectly, "like directing planes at Laguardia Airport."
When Jason E. Bernard was a 17-year-old junior in high school, studying at Broadway Dance Center in New York, he booked his first-ever Broadway audition, Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk. The Tony Award–winnning show, choreographed by Savion Glover, not only put a fresh spin on the tap scene, but it informed Bernard's own authentic style that led him to tour internationally with Riverdance for a decade and dance alongside tap legend Gregory Hines. "Improvisational tap was going through a renaissance at the time," says Bernard. "It was no longer just simple flap-ball-changes."
In "Gravity," Piotr Iwanicki balances Marisa Hamamoto on his back from his wheelchair. His upper-body strength is extraordinary, as he leads his partner around the dance floor.
In 2006, Hamamoto was temporarily paralyzed from the waist down, and through her recovery, ballroom dancing healed her emotionally. She was then inspired to create Infinite Flow, an inclusive wheelchair ballroom dance company, to remove stigmas around people with disabilities and reflect mainstream dance. "I wanted to showcase not just wheelchair dancing," she says, "but good dancing."