Matt Dorame Warner's Basic Warm-Up Is More Challenging Than His Students Think

Photo by Ericka Haslam, courtesy of Warner

"I worked my whole life to be a dancer," says Matt Dorame Warner, co-director of Creative Arts Academy's Touring Company in Bountiful, Utah. "I danced more hours than a lot of kids did anything else. So now as a teacher, I expect the same amount of professionalism and respect for dance from my students."

To enhance studio work ethic, Warner says he and his co-directors are candid with their dancers about the effort they're putting into class. "We'll tell them if we feel they weren't present that day, or if we feel that they could do more. We expect a lot from them," he says. That diligence paid off when Creative Arts Academy placed in the top five for Las Vegas Studio of the Year at The Dance Awards last year, and had two dancers earn first runner-up for best dancer in their respective age brackets.

Thanks to his versatile performing career, which includes Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and Season 4 of "So You Think You Can Dance," Warner has developed a hyperfocused teaching style. "My biggest thing is alignment. I have my dancers spend a lot of time in specific positions to make sure they are doing them accurately without gripping," he says. "We aren't just standing in parallel to stand in parallel. We are standing there to work the muscles that will immediately rotate their legs. The movements may seem fairly basic, but after my 45-minute warm-up, the dancers are always shaking."

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