Chase Benz was just 10 years old when he watched Michael Jackson's Dangerous Tour on TV, and he knew then that he wanted to perform for the rest of his life. As a budding young dancer, he booked his first world tour at age 15, and since then, the Nashville native has toured with Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Rihanna. But it isn't just about dance for Benz. “If anything, the dancing is secondary," he says. “It's the all-encompassing aspect of a performance that I really love."
While working as the choreographer for Donna Summer's final tour, Benz learned to really think in terms of a full performance. “I was learning something every second, because she had an answer for everything," he says. “She had been doing that for so many years, and she understood what a show needs for it to really resonate. She taught me to figure out what the audience wants to see and how to give them a performance that includes them and sends them away feeling good."
Currently, Benz serves as the dance captain and co-choreographer on the Britney Spears Las Vegas show, Britney: Piece of Me. He also founded The Academy of Entertainment, a weekend workshop that gives young dancers a real taste of the industry. “I see so many kids pick up and move to a big city to dance, but they have no clue what it really takes and give up after a few months. We want to give these kids a good education and a reality check so they're prepared for the industry." DT
Album: Unorthodox Jukebox
“Bruno Mars never disappoints. His shows are performance at its best, because they look and feel natural while being fun and showing off strengths. I try to incorporate that live-show feel in my classes, and if I'm teaching something with a funk vibe, his music is perfect."
“Maroon 5 always releases a great album. The lead singer Adam Levine brings a mix of everything—funk, alternative, pop, etc. I come from a style of training that involves a little bit of everything like that, so I like to let the sound of the song dictate what I'm going to teach."
Album: Peace Is the Mission
“Major Lazer has an electronic-DJ sound that seems to always stay current and exciting. The music is great for a warm-up or workout, because it combines so many elements of sound into one song. The vocals, tempo and beat are a great mix that gets you ready to move."
Song: Five More Hours
I've always liked using Chris Brown's music to teach, because I find that people really seem to be able to let go. There's never a dull moment. It's fast-paced with a funky house beat that keeps it going all the way through the song, and the beat drops continually, making it great for spontaneous movement."
Album: Greater Than
“Something about this group's music is genuinely so attractive to me. The voice and the deep house and lyrics really pull you in and keep you there. They have Nashville roots like me, so I feel like there's a piece of home in this music. If I want to vibe out or teach to something that starts out a little more slowly and then picks up musically, they do the trick."
Photo courtesy of Benz