Music for Class: Ashlé Dawson

Music with Latin flair

Ashlé Dawson’s versatility has created plenty of opportunities, including a spot in the top four on “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 1 and a contract with Cirque du Soleil. Some of her favorite dance moments, though, were spent socializing. “When I moved to L.A., I went salsa dancing sometimes seven nights a week,” she says. “I would come home and fall asleep with my heels on. The music was infectious.” Those self-taught, dawn-breaking lessons led to tours with major Puerto Rican reggaeton singers abroad.

In her Latin fusion class at Broadway Dance Center and the Ailey Extension, Dawson blends all her specialties: commercial jazz, whacking, house, hip hop and Latin. Whether students are looking to loosen up or get a good workout, Dawson says one of the class’ learning curves is dancing in heels. For those working in commercial dance or auditioning for In the Heights, heels require a whole different technique. “You have to learn how to manipulate your muscles,” she says. “Then you can pull up through the inner arch instead of what is usually taught in technique, over the ball of the foot.” DT

WARMING UP

“I use ‘La Melodia’ for warm-up and isolations. He’s from Panama and has a happy, summery vibe—a great way to start off class. For sit-ups, ‘El Teke Teke’ is a motivating, in-your-face song, but lighthearted enough for people to laugh and have a good time.”

Artist: Joey Montana

Song: “La Melodia”

Artist: Crazy Design and Carlitos Wey

Song: “El Teke Teke”

SOCIAL SOUNDS

“Even though most people listening to these songs haven’t heard them, they tap into a club vibe, so the sound is familiar. They’re good for any portion of class—warm-up, isolations and choreography, too.”

Artist: Wisin & Yandel

Album: Líderes

Artist: El Shick

Song: “Prendelo”

FAMILIAR LATIN TRACKS

“‘Stand By Me’ is a Spanish cover of the original. It’s fun because we can break down the words together. I use it for bachata. Don Omar is one of my favorite artists. He has a commercial sound that you can do anything to: rumba, salsa or samba.”

Artist: Prince Royce

Song: “Stand By Me”

Artist: Don Omar and Lucenzo

Song: “Danza Kuduro”

Photo by Franklin Liranzo, courtesy of Ashlé Dawson

Music
Mary Malleney, courtesy Osato

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For Parents

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From left: Anthony Crickmay, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem Archives; Courtesy Ballethnic

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"She has the same sensibility" as Arthur Mitchell, says Ballethnic co-artistic director Nena Gilreath. "She's very direct, all about the mission and the excellence, but very caring."

Ballethnic is based in East Point, a suburban city bordering Atlanta. In a metropolitan area with a history of racism and where funding is hard-won, it is crucial for the Black-led ballet company to present polished, professional productions. "Ms. Lydia" provides the "hard last eye" before the curtain opens in front of an audience.

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