"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.
Alright, people. Summer is officially over, and fall is upon us. What a ride it's been! From intensives to Nationals to workshops, you teachers have been FABULOUS!
To recap, we thought we would share three of our favorite class videos that came from summer 2018.
They're just so good.
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!
Robin Dunn loves to teach the sexy walk in her beginner hip-hop classes, because it's a basic step, yet students can put their own mark on it. Two key things to remember: Maintain a light bounce and relax the upper body throughout. "Another key thing? Put your personality into it," says Dunn.
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.
The piqué arabesque is a ballet staple that looks deceptively simple. At Alonzo King LINES Dance Center, LeeWei Chao uses the image of standing on the edge of a cliff to inspire correct alignment, emphasizing a strong supporting side so that dancers avoid tilting and dipping forward. "Your body energy goes up," he says. "Stay on that edge of the cliff. You sense the danger there, but that's the most beautiful moment."
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."
Unlike a usual waltz, in which the lift and dip would come from the legs, this waltz from Paul Taylor's Cloven Kingdom (1976) requires the up-and-down motion to come solely from the torso. The legs remain in plié the entire time, eating space. (When this piece is performed, dancers traverse the length of the stage using one pass of this waltz.)
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Happy Nationals season, everybody! It's that time of year when us lucky editors get to watch so, SO many gorgeous solos by dancers competing for big titles. But even among the insanely gifted artists at the top of the comp circuit, Tate McRae stands out. Just ask anyone who's seen the solo that helped her win Teen Best Dancer at The Dance Awards in Vegas last week.
Choreographed by Travis Wall (naturally), "Woman" is virtuosic both technically and artistically. Are the 180-degree extensions and fluid lyricism that captivated "So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation" audiences two years ago still there? Of course they are. But Tate also approaches the solo with a commitment and maturity that's rare in industry veterans, let alone 14-year-old students.
You Turn, choreographed by former Broadway performer Paul McGill, with original music by Stephen Trask, sheds light on a pervasive problem today: cell phone addiction. Deidre Goodwin, a former castmate of McGill's from the Chorus Line revival, first approached McGill to work on the piece for her students at the New York Film Academy. The film's main dancers, Stasi Berezovskaya and Lethabo Mofomme (both NYFA musical theater majors) submitted the work for their annual Dance on Film project.
A few weeks ago, we shared the first five vlogs from master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee's West Coast tour. Now, Lee is back with videos from four California cities—Morgan Hill, San Francisco, Roseville and Oakhurst—to wrap up her 20-day tour. Lee shares a bit about the training at each studio, as well as advice on what dancers should look for in their first pair of pointe shoes and what to do if your feet are very different from each other. Lee also touches base with a physical therapist for advice on the most common pointe shoe injuries. Later this summer, Lee will take her wares to summer intensives around the country—stay tuned!
South Valley Dance Arts in Morgan Hill, CA
Lee reports from the suburbs of San Jose on the diverse training methods at South Valley Dance Arts, which range from Balanchine to Cecchetti to Ukrainian folk dance.