Dance Media Live

Introducing Dance Media Live!: The Ultimate Live Class Series to Get You Through Quarantine

Lana Kozol, Courtesy Ballet 5:8

Since the dance world changed overnight due to COVID-19, we've been bringing you constant content on how our community is adapting to the pandemic—from following dancers who are #SocialDisDancing to asking the experts for tips on taking class at home.

Now, we're launching Dance Media Live!, a class series with everything from ballet to Pilates to cardio to jazz, featuring some of our favorite teachers.

So join us on Zoom, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-2 pm ET, beginning May 7. Classes are $10 each.

Sign up here, and see the full class schedule below:


Past classes:

July 23: Flexibility Training with the Flexistretcher

Joseph Miller, Courtesy Flexistretcher

Join Rein Short for a 60-minute stretch and strength class specifically designed to address the needs of the dancer using the Flexistretcher tool.

Sign up now.

July 21: Advanced Ballet with Christopher Hird

Frank Atura, courtesy Sarasota Ballet

Join the Sarasota Ballet's director of education, Christopher Hird, for an advanced ballet class focused on artistry.

Sign up now.

July 16: Ballet with Julianna Rubio Slager

Lana Kozol, Courtesy Ballet 5:8

Ballet 5:8 artistic director Julianna Rubio Slager will teach a ballet technique class with a focus on what she calls "the secrets to standout musicality."

Sign up here.

July 14: Advanced Ballet with Nick Mullikin

Courtesy Nashville Ballet

Join Nashville Ballet associate artistic director Nick Mullikin for an advanced ballet class and Q&A about the company.

Sign up here.

July 9: Advanced Contemporary/Modern with Erin Thompson

Randy Karels, courtesy Erin Thompson

Bessie award-winning dancer Erin Thompson will teach an advanced contemporary/modern class including floorwork, standing warm-ups and phrase work—all redesigned for the home space.

Sign up here.

July 2: Advanced Hip Hop with Dance Labs

Misty Matthews, Courtesy Dance Labs

Join Dance Labs faculty member Mckinley Hawkes for a high-energy advanced hip hop class. The class will include a warm up and a fun, musical combination.

Sign up here.

June 30: Technique and Conditioning with Alyssa Beasley

Chasity Strickland/YOUnique Photography, Courtesy Beasley

Join Alyssa Beasley, regional director of Fusion National Dance Competition, for a technique-inspired conditioning and stretching class.

Sign up here.

June 18: Movement as Medicine with Erica Hornthal

Mindy Garfinkle Photography

Erica Hornthal, dance/movement therapist and professional counselor, will lead a guided movement meditation designed to reduce stress and prioritize self care.

Sign up here.

June 16: Advanced Ballet and Q&A with José Carayol

Bradford Rogne, Courtesy Joffrey Academy of Dance

Join José Carayol, head of the Joffrey Academy of Dance's studio company and trainee program, for an advanced ballet class and Q&A.

Sign up here.

June 11: Improv Flow with Savea Kagan

Ginger Sole Photography, Courtesy Kagan

Degas Dance Studio faculty member Savea Kagan will teach an improv flow class, a guided exploration that encourages dancers to take risks, let go, and get out of their habitual ways of moving.

Sign up here.

June 4: Contemporary Jazz with Natalie Stys

En Lin, Courtesy Stys

Natalie Stys, a New York City-based dancer and choreographer, will teach a contemporary jazz class designed to push students to cultivate their artistic voice. Class will include a conditioning-focused warm-up, guided improvisations and a combination with influences from hip hop, jazz, ballet and theater.

Sign up here.

June 2: Ballet with Timour Bourtasenkov

Courtesy Cary Ballet Conservatory

Join Cary Ballet Conservatory faculty member and Youth America Grand Prix judge Timour Bourtasenkov for an advanced/pre-professional level ballet class.

Sign up here.

May 28: Intermediate Pilates Mat with Elizabeth Lowe Ahearn

Rob Ferrell, Courtesy Goucher

Elizabeth Lowe Ahearn, dance professor and founding director of the Pilates Center at Goucher College, will teach a Classical Pilates mat class designed to improve stretch, strength and control.

Sign up here.

May 26: Intermediate Contemporary with Melissa Rector

Sammi Pfieffer, Courtesy Koresh

Join Melissa Rector, assistant artistic director of Koresh Dance Company, for an intermediate contemporary class focused on groundedness, breath, body percussion, stylized gesture and quick transitions.

Sign up here.

May 21: Ballet with Philip Neal

Mike Munhall, Courtesy Patel Conservatory

Join Philip Neal, artistic director of Next Generation Ballet, for a ballet class focused on barre work. The former New York City Ballet dancer will focus on lightness and speed.

Sign up here.

May 19: Jazz and Q&A with Courtney Ortiz

Corey Rives, Courtesy Revel Dance Convention

Courtney Ortiz, owner of Impact Dance Adjudicators and a professional dancer, teacher and competition judge, will teach a jazz class designed for small spaces geared towards intermediate/advanced dancers and teachers. The class will be followed by a Q&A session with Ortiz, where participants can ask her advice on a professional dance career.

Sign up here.

May 14: The Dancer's Workout

Kathy Howard Portrait, Courtesy The Dancer's Workout

Join Jules Szabo, founder of The Dancer's Workout, for a dance fitness class targeted to dancers and incorporating ballet, jazz and contemporary dance.

Sign up here.

May 12: Cardio with Jaclyn Baker

Courtesy Baker

Professional dancer-turned-bodybuilder and International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness Olympian Jaclyn Baker will lead a 30-minute cardio sweat session, focused on increasing stamina. Suitable for all fitness levels and ages.

Sign up here.

May 7: Improving Grand Allegro with Hiroto Saito

Courtesy Canada's Ballet Jörgen

Join Ballet Jörgen ballet master Hiroto Saito for a ballet barre designed to support your jumps—including a special strength-training session to help you build jumping power when you're not able to jump at home.

Music
Mary Malleney, courtesy Osato

In most classes, dancers are encouraged to count the music, and dance with it—emphasizing accents and letting the rhythm of a song guide them.

But Marissa Osato likes to give her students an unexpected challenge: to resist hitting the beats.

In her contemporary class at EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles (which is now closed, until they find a new space), she would often play heavy trap music. She'd encourage her students to find the contrast by moving in slow, fluid, circular patterns, daring them to explore the unobvious interpretation of the steady rhythms.


"I like to give dancers a phrase of music and choreography and have them reinterpret it," she says, "to be thinkers and creators and not just replicators."

Osato learned this approach—avoiding the natural temptation of the music always being the leader—while earning her MFA in choreography at California Institute of the Arts. "When I was collaborating with a composer for my thesis, he mentioned, 'You always count in eights. Why?'"

This forced Osato out of her creative comfort zone. "The choices I made, my use of music, and its correlation to the movement were put under a microscope," she says. "I learned to not always make the music the driving motive of my work," a habit she attributes to her competition studio training as a young dancer.

While an undergraduate at the University of California, Irvine, Osato first encountered modern dance. That discovery, along with her experience dancing in Boogiezone Inc.'s off-campus hip-hop company, BREED, co-founded by Elm Pizarro, inspired her own, blended style, combining modern and hip hop with jazz. While still in college, she began working with fellow UCI student Will Johnston, and co-founded the Boogiezone Contemporary Class with Pizarro, an affordable series of classes that brought top choreographers from Los Angeles to Orange County.

"We were trying to bring the hip-hop and contemporary communities together and keep creating work for our friends," says Osato, who has taught for West Coast Dance Explosion and choreographed for studios across the country.

In 2009, Osato, Johnston and Pizarro launched Entity Contemporary Dance, which she and Johnston direct. The company, now based in Los Angeles, won the 2017 Capezio A.C.E. Awards, and, in 2019, Osato was chosen for two choreographic residencies (Joffrey Ballet's Winning Works and the USC Kaufman New Movement Residency), and became a full-time associate professor of dance at Santa Monica College.

At SMC, Osato challenges her students—and herself—by incorporating a live percussionist, a luxury that's been on pause during the pandemic. She finds that live music brings a heightened sense of awareness to the room. "I didn't realize what I didn't have until I had it," Osato says. "Live music helps dancers embody weight and heaviness, being grounded into the floor." Instead of the music dictating the movement, they're a part of it.

Osato uses the musician as a collaborator who helps stir her creativity, in real time. "I'll say 'Give me something that's airy and ambient,' and the sounds inspire me," says Osato. She loves playing with tension and release dynamics, fall and recovery, and how those can enhance and digress from the sound.

"I can't wait to get back to the studio and have that again," she says.

Osato made Dance Teacher a Spotify playlist with some of her favorite songs for class—and told us about why she loves some of them.

"Get It Together," by India.Arie

"Her voice and lyrics hit my soul and ground me every time. Dream artist. My go-to recorded music in class is soul R&B. There's simplicity about it that I really connect with."

"Turn Your Lights Down Low," by Bob Marley + The Wailers, Lauryn Hill

"A classic. This song embodies that all-encompassing love and gets the whole room groovin'."

"Diamonds," by Johnnyswim

"This song's uplifting energy and drive is infectious! So much vulnerability, honesty and joy in their voices and instrumentation."

"There Will Be Time," by Mumford & Sons, Baaba Maal

"Mumford & Sons' music has always struck a deep chord within me. Their songs are simultaneously stripped-down and complex and feel transcendent."

"With The Love In My Heart," by Jacob Collier, Metropole Orkest, Jules Buckley

"Other than it being insanely energizing and cinematic, I love how challenging the irregular meter is!"

For Parents

Darrell Grand Moultrie teaches at a past Jacob's Pillow summer intensive. Photo Christopher Duggan, courtesy Jacob's Pillow

In the past 10 months, we've grown accustomed to helping our dancers navigate virtual school, classes and performances. And while brighter, more in-person days may be around the corner—or at least on the horizon—parents may be facing yet another hurdle to help our dancers through: virtual summer-intensive auditions.

In 2020, we learned that there are some unique advantages of virtual summer programs: the lack of travel (and therefore the reduced cost) and the increased access to classes led by top artists and teachers among them. And while summer 2021 may end up looking more familiar with in-person intensives, audition season will likely remain remote and over Zoom.

Of course, summer 2021 may not be back to in-person, and that uncertainty can be a hard pill to swallow. Here, Kate Linsley, a mom and academy principal of Nashville Ballet, as well as "J.R." Glover, The Dan & Carole Burack Director of The School at Jacob's Pillow, share their advice for this complicated process.

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Teachers Trending

From left: Anthony Crickmay, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem Archives; Courtesy Ballethnic

It is the urgency of going in a week or two before opening night that Lydia Abarca Mitchell loves most about coaching. But in her role as Ballethnic Dance Company's rehearsal director, she's not just getting the troupe ready for the stage. Abarca Mitchell—no relation to Arthur Mitchell—was Mitchell's first prima ballerina when he founded Dance Theatre of Harlem with Karel Shook; through her coaching, Abarca Mitchell works to pass her mentor's legacy to the next generation.

"She has the same sensibility" as Arthur Mitchell, says Ballethnic co-artistic director Nena Gilreath. "She's very direct, all about the mission and the excellence, but very caring."

Ballethnic is based in East Point, a suburban city bordering Atlanta. In a metropolitan area with a history of racism and where funding is hard-won, it is crucial for the Black-led ballet company to present polished, professional productions. "Ms. Lydia" provides the "hard last eye" before the curtain opens in front of an audience.

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