Face to Face: Helen Simoneau

Simoneau in her Flight Distance III: Chain Suite

It’s almost as if Helen Simoneau is living two lives. A French-speaking Québécoise, she arrived at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts at 17 to study dance, and her now-flawless English even has a slight Southern twang. Her six-year-old company splits its time between Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and New York City. Even her choreography includes duality: Simoneau is just as at ease crafting limb-flung, space-eating group work (Paper Wings, originally for 19 dancers) as she is when creating introspective, compact solos (her award-winning the gentleness was in her hands). Her most recent work, which premieres March 3–5 in Winston-Salem, had its first life as a solo for Simoneau herself. Now she’s translated that solo, Caribou, about her Canadian heritage and American assimilation, into a dance for eight.

On repeating herself, choreographically “A lot of the pieces I make are informed by what I made right before. Sometimes the catalyst to create a new work comes from having more to say. There is a spark from the previous piece that continues into the new work. I’ve done this before, with a piece I made for our first season. It was called Flight Distance. And then I just wasn’t done with that idea, so I made Flight Distance II and III. Caribou was similar. I made a solo, and I wasn’t done with this idea. I was interested to see how this movement material and these ideas would translate to a larger group.”

Making it work in NC and NY “Winston-Salem offers us a stable place to create work. The residency model, for me, is really beneficial for the incubation of the work. We’re trying ideas, but it also provides an opportunity for the company to bond. That’s been something that’s rooted us in the past five years. And it’s really important to me to continue to be in New York, seeing all the dances being created and having the opportunity when I’m creating to have mentors and peers come and see the work and give me feedback.”

Her dream dancer “I’m really looking for collaborators: a dancer who is able to take on a task; who is curious; who is interested in researching the movement and the ideas; who can speak about the work while we’re creating it. All of that is important to me. Yes, there’s a base of skill and training that is necessary for the work to be fully realized, but beyond that I’m looking for partners who are really interested in the process. Because that is so much of the time we spend together.” DT

Training: BFA from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts; MFA, Hollins University

Choreography: founded Helen Simoneau Danse in 2010; has been commissioned by The Juilliard School, the American Dance Festival and Springboard Danse Montréal

Teaching: adjunct at UNCSA; The Juilliard School: Summer Dance Intensive; ADF

Photo by Steve Davis, courtesy of Helen Simoneau Danse

Don’t miss a single issue of Dance Teacher.

Teacher Voices
Photo courtesy Rhee Gold Company

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, there has been a shift in our community that is so impressive that the impact could last long into our future. Although required school closures have hit the dance education field hard, what if, when looking back on this time, we see that it's been an incredible renaissance for dance educators, studio owners and the young dancers in our charge?

How could that be, you ask?

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Photo by Yvonne M. Portra, courtesy Faulkner

It's a Wednesday in May, and 14 Stanford University advanced modern ­dance students are logged on to Zoom, each practicing a socially distanced duet with an imaginary person. "Think about the quality of their personality and the type of duet you might have," says their instructor Katie Faulkner, "but also their surface area and how you'd relate to them in space." Amid dorm rooms, living rooms, dining rooms and backyards, the dancers make do with cramped quarters and dodge furniture as they twist, curve, stretch and intertwine with their imaginary partners.

Keep reading... Show less
Music
Getty Images

Securing the correct music licensing for your studio is an important step in creating a financially sound business. "Music licensing is something studio owners seem to either embrace or ignore completely," says Clint Salter, CEO and founder of the Dance Studio Owners Association. While it may seem like it's a situation in which it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission—that is, to wait until you're approached by a music-rights organization before purchasing a license—Salter disagrees, citing Peloton, the exercise company that produces streaming at-home workouts. In February, Peloton settled a music-licensing suit with the National Music Publishers' Association out-of-court for an undisclosed amount. Originally, NMPA had sought $300 million in damages from Peloton. "It can get extremely expensive," says Salter. "It's not worth it for a studio to get caught up in that."

As you continue to explore a hybrid online/in-person version of your class schedule, it's crucial that your music licenses include coverage for livestreamed instruction—which comes with its own particular requirements. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about music licensing—in both normal times and COVID times—as well as some safe music bets that won't pose any issues.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.