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.

The Conversation
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by spinkickpictures.com, courtesy of Mitchell

"Popular music has an overall energy that lends itself to the street-jazz style," says Derek Mitchell. But over the last eight years or so, the choreographer, who also teaches contemporary, jazz funk and musical theater, has noticed a lack of great musicality and interesting lyrics. As a result, Mitchell's music searches often gravitate toward the classic hits from artists like Prince and Janet Jackson. "Rarely do I hear a new song that makes me go, 'Oh, I want to dance to that!'"

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Andy Mogg, courtesy of Marin Ballet

As a young student, Becky Erhart Moore did not go on pointe with the rest of her class. "My teacher felt I wasn't ready, so I wore flat shoes when everyone else wore pointe shoes," she says. "My mom had to deal with my tears for weeks!" Moore, who is now artistic coordinator and faculty member at Marin Ballet in California, says that the setback she experienced as a child motivated her to work even harder. "When I finally went up on pointe with my class, it was that much sweeter."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Courtesy Harlequin Floors

Just like your car, your studio needs periodic tune-ups to keep it humming along smoothly. If you take the time to address a few small fixes, your business will stand out. And you don't have to break the bank, either—you might be surprised how low-cost, DIY improvements can make a surprising difference.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Students in Pulinkala's Cocoon. Photo by Robert Pack, courtesy of Kennesaw State

When Ivan Pulinkala was preparing for his interview at Kennesaw State University to create the school's first dance program, he figured the whole thing would be a lark, at best. After all, the New Delhi–born choreographer had just gotten his green card, which meant he could teach anywhere, and Kennesaw, Georgia (a half-hour outside of Atlanta), wasn't his first choice as a location. But after doing a scan of collegiate dance in Georgia, he began to change his mind. "I thought, 'Wow, if someone starts a big dance program at a public institution, the market's wide open,'" says Pulinkala. "There were some good programs, like Emory University, but they were niche—private and expensive."

Keep reading... Show less
To Share With Students
Getty Images

When your students graduate and move to the big city to pursue their dreams, they'll almost immediately discover that there's a void left where your studio once was. Not only will they miss your instruction and daily support, but they'll miss having a physical space to work through challenging movement, polish their technique and improv with no one watching. Help them with their adjustment period by telling them about the studio spaces they can rent out when they need some one-on-one time with the mirror and the music.

Here are five for you to share with them—you're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
Gabriel Figueredo in a variation from Raymonda. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.

This week, more than 1,000 young hopefuls gathered in New York City for the Youth America Grand Prix finals, giving them the chance to compete for scholarships and contracts to some of the world's top ballet schools and companies. Roughly 85 dancers made it to the final round at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater on Wednesday. Today, the 20th anniversary of YAGP came to a close at the competition's awards ceremony. Read on to find out who won!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Photos by Kyle Froman

A few years ago, Mary Ann Lamb got a phone call from Ann Reinking, who was choreographing a production of The Visit starring Chita Rivera. Lamb was thrilled when Reinking offered her the role of Young Claire without even asking for an audition. "And then she said, 'In the first act, you're going to play Chita Rivera when she's a 17-year-old virgin,'" Lamb says, "and I'm like, 'What am I gonna do? I'm like 50 years old!' I started panicking. My dream was to be in the room with Ann Reinking and Chita Rivera, but I was scared to death I was going to make a fool of myself."

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Thinkstock

Q: A student of mine recently got a bad sprained ankle, and it's been weak ever since she returned to class. Are there any exercises you suggest to strengthen it?

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
YouTube

"WOD" is back for Season 3, and once again, the internet is loving it! How much do they love it, you ask? Well they've watched many of the dances millions of times, so it's safe to say—A WHOLE LOT! We did some research and discovered which dances have been watched the most since Season 3's premiere, and the results may surprise you.

Here are the top-four most viewed "WOD" videos of the season so far! Let us know your favorite over on our Facebook page!

Keep reading... Show less
Unsplash

When it comes to running a thriving dance studio, Cindy Clough knows what she's talking about. As executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner for more than four decades, she's all too aware of the unique challenges the job presents, from teaching to scheduling to managing employees and clients.

Here, Clough shares her best advice for new studio owners, and the answers to some common questions that come up when you're getting started.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Thinkstock

Q: As a dance teacher, which products do you prefer, Apple or Google?

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Getty Images

The one thing that can unite all of us on April 15 is the fact that everyone hates doing their taxes. Though they are necessary, they are exhausting and time-consuming, and just plain no fun for anyone!

To help you cope, we've captured what doing taxes feels like through a series of dancer memes.

YOU'RE WELCOME!

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox