Kristin Sudeikis: How I Teach Contemporary

Sudeikis (left) is known for her motivational approach. Photographed by Kyle Froman at Broadway Dance Center
To the casual observer, Kristin Sudeikis might appear to be reprimanding her packed class of intermediate contemporary students at Broadway Dance Center in New York City. She's just stopped the music, mid-improvisation, to sternly remind the dancers that less is more. "Don't overthink your choices—trust them, and move from that space," she says, asking that this time, they interact with another dancer at some point during their improv. But it's really more of an impromptu pep talk, and it has its desired effect: The dancers now delve into the negative space between each other, occasionally sharing weight—arms rippling, rib cages circling. The softly lit studio (she turned off all the lights and let the skylight work its magic) explodes with movement and connections.

Sudeikis, whose classes are routinely packed, motivates her students to make their own discoveries. To get them moving in a bigger and more intentional way, she demands that her dancers make choices throughout her class: simple ones, like which way to face during her fluid, floor-based warm-up, but more complex ones, too, like how to end the closing combination in three eights of improvisation.

It's as if she's a life coach and dance teacher rolled into one, always knowing just what to say, as she deftly stokes her students' passion and sense of possibility. The room is practically pulsing with inspiration, as Sudeikis peppers her class with off-the-cuff motivational speeches (like her earlier "less is more" one) and makes old-school moves seem new again in her grounded, wonderfully organic choreography. "I need you to live that pas de bourrée," she says.

Sudeikis' unabashed enthusiasm stems from her fairytale-like introduction to dance (beyond her Overland Park, Kansas, studio upbringing at Miller Marley School of Dance and Voice). She met Mia Michaels at her first dance convention, at 13, when Michaels awarded her a scholarship to study at BDC that summer. "I can still remember the song I danced to—Annie Lennox, 'Sweet Dreams,'" she laughs. "I was dancing for my life!" She officially moved to NYC in 2000, snapping up every teaching and subbing opportunity that came her way and traveling each summer to do choreography and master classes. In 2008, she founded her own company, Kristin Sudeikis Dance.

In everything she does, Sudeikis is committed to authenticity and curiosity. "Audiences can feel when we're overthinking—we have to drop into ourselves a little deeper," she says. "I tell my students, 'No one else can bring what you can, but you have to learn how to speak your own voice first.'" DT

Kristin Sudeikis is a New York City–based teacher and choreographer. She's choreographed for the FKA Twigs X Nike collaboration launch in NYC and for Alvin Ailey's Voices and Visions, among others. She's taught at the White House 2016 Easter Egg Roll and at numerous college residencies, and she's presented at the Brooklyn Dance Festival, where she was guest choreographer in 2015. She founded her own company, Kristin Sudeikis Dance, in 2008, and is a contemporary faculty member at Broadway Dance Center and Peridance Capezio Center in NYC.

Alex Liszewski
is a dancer who serves on the Broadway Dance Center administrative staff.

Teacher Voices

There were plenty of reasons why we were happy to bid 2020 a not-so-fond farewell, but for tap dancers, the end of such a difficult year was the final curtain on a decade in which the art form experienced remarkable growth.

Over the past 10 years, The School at Jacob's Pillow launched its first-ever tap programs; companies such as Dorrance Dance and Caleb Teicher & Company emerged and produced award-winning work; Operation Tap became an important voice in online tap education; the American Tap Dance Foundation established its new home in Greenwich Village; The Kennedy Center presented its first full-length tap concert; and so much more.

As the new year sees tap dance trying to maintain this positive momentum despite the ongoing restrictions of the pandemic, we invited several of the field's living legends to meet on Zoom and discuss how they perceive the current state of tap dance and tap education.

Keep reading... Show less
Teacher Voices
Getty Images

In 2001, young Chanel, a determined, ambitious, fiery, headstrong teenager, was about to begin her sophomore year at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, also known as the highly acclaimed "Fame" school. I was a great student, a promising young dancer and well-liked by my teachers and my peers. On paper, everything seemed in order. In reality, this picture-perfect image was fractured. There was a crack that I've attempted to hide, cover up and bury for nearly 20 years.

Keep reading... Show less
Health & Body
Getty Images

Though the #MeToo movement has spurred many dancers to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and abuse, the dance world has yet to have a full reckoning on the subject. Few institutions have made true cultural changes, and many alleged predators continue to work in the industry.

As Chanel DaSilva's story shows, young dancers are particularly vulnerable to abuse because of the power differential between teacher and student. We spoke with eight experts in dance, education and psychology about steps that dance schools could take to protect their students from sexual abuse.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.