Music for Class: Lines Without Limits

Drew Jacoby's playlist helps dancers take risks.

Though she dons pointe shoes instead of pumps, Drew Jacoby is still a full-blown businesswoman. After jobs with Alonzo King LINES Ballet and Complexions Contemporary Ballet, she partnered up with colleague Rubinald Pronk to establish a freelance duo, performing at galas and festivals around the world. Jacoby pioneers again this month, producing BLUEPRINT at Peridance Capezio Center in New York City. The summer intensive includes a faculty list of contemporary and ballet masters like Helen Pickett (William Forsythe), Kevin Irving (Nacho Duato) and Manuel Vignoulle (Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet).

BLUEPRINT’s goal is to bridge the gap between classical and contemporary students. “Often, commercial and contemporary dancers need a bit more structure while ballet kids need to be broken down,” says Jacoby. She helps them meet in the middle by focusing on their common weakness—moving timidly. “In training, it’s so much about technique and trying to be correct. But the issue I see from students, regardless of the kind of dance they study, is they don’t take enough chances,” she says. For bunheads and barefooted dancers whose minds and bodies think differently, learning from each other may be the best way to improve. DT

Artist: Major Lazer

Song: “Pon De Floor”

“I ask students to come ready to dance, because my warm-up is quick—20 minutes. It’s mostly stretching, ab work, push-ups and cardio, because the rep I do is so hard on the back, and they need to fire up their cores. This music really drives you when you’re doing difficult strengthening exercises.”

Artist: Leslie Stuck

Album: Pas

“Leslie is a dance composer, and this is a CD of pas de deux works he’s done for different companies. Some of the tracks kind of remind me of William Forsythe’s In the middle, somewhat elevated. It has that icy and sharp quality.” 

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach

Piece: Partita No. 2 in D minor: Chaconne

“This is my favorite piece of music. I don’t usually have a typical song set for class, but I always end up putting this on. The work is classical, but high-energy and very dance-y.” 

Artist: M.I.A.

“I like to surprise my students and put on something popular that has a funky vibe. Though sometimes you have to be careful. Just because I put on a fun song doesn’t mean I want you to dance sexy! I’m just trying to show them the differences in how they dance choreography to something classical versus this.” 

Artist: The Knife

Album: Deep Cuts

“I use this band when I want dancers to move with a more gooey quality. There’s a creepiness and heaviness to these songs that gets them lower and closer to the floor.”

 

Photo: Drew Jacoby and Rubinald Pronk; by Bill Cooper, courtesy of Drew Jacoby

Music
Allie Burke, courtesy Lo Cascio

If you'd hear it on the radio, you won't hear it in Anthony Lo Cascio's tap classes.

"If I play a song that my kids know, I'm kind of disappointed in myself," he says. "I either want to be on the cutting edge or playing the classics."

He finds that most of today's trendy tracks lack the depth needed for tap, and that there's a disconnect between kids and popular music. "They have trouble finding the beat compared to older genres," he says.

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Courtesy Lovely Leaps

After the birth of her daughter in 2018, engineer Lisa McCabe had reservations about returning to the workforce full-time. And while she wanted to stay home with the new baby, she wasn't ready to stop contributing financially to her family (after all, she'd had a successful career designing cables for government drones). So, when she got a call that September from an area preschool to lead its dance program, she saw an opportunity.

The invitation to teach wasn't completely out of the blue. McCabe had grown up dancing in Southern California and had a great reputation from serving as her church's dance teacher and team coach the previous three years (stopping only to take a break as a new mother). She agreed to teach ballet and jazz at the preschool on Fridays and from there created an age-appropriate class based on her own training in the Cecchetti and RAD methods. It was a success: In three months, class enrollment went from six to 24 students, and just one year later, McCabe's blossoming Lovely Leaps brand had contracts with eight preschools and three additional teachers.

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News
Courtesy Shake the Ground

Dance competitions were among the first events to be shut down when the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in the U.S. in mid-March, and they've been among the last able to restart.

So much of the traditional structure of the competition—large groups of dancers and parents from dozens of different studios; a new city every week—simply won't work in our new pandemic world.

How, then, have competitions been getting by, and what does the future look like?

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