Performance Planner: The Best of Both Worlds

Jina Yelton Motts, owner and director of Motion Dance Studio, needed a recital theme that would work for her students from not one, but two locations, in Cornelius and Concord, North Carolina. She found a winner with “A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock ’n’ Roll.” Motts was able to cover everything from hip hop and tap to lyrical and acro-gym, featuring dancers ages 8 to 18. (Her younger students and ballet classes performed in separate shows.)

Costs were kept under $3,000 with the help of volunteers, who built 10-foot-high cowboy boots, guitars and musical notes, as well as bales of hay and scarecrows. “This year, especially, we had to cut costs,” says teacher Angel Wilkes. “I had our studio’s name airbrushed on T-shirts for hip-hop numbers as an alternative to pricier options.” Read on for details on several of Motts’ numbers.

n Song: “She’s a Butterfly,” by Martina McBride

n Genre/Level: lyrical; intermediate to advanced

This number had an ethereal aesthetic, with dancers partnering to the country ballad. They completed complicated formation changes and a variety of turns including arabesques, chaînés and pirouettes. Motts suggests subdued lighting in blues and reds and even using a fog machine for dramatic effect.

n Song: “School’s Out,” by Alice Cooper; “Lip Gloss” and “G-Slide,” by Lil Mama; “Playground,” by Another Bad Creation

n Genre/Level: hip hop and acro-gym; intermediate (at least one year of tumbling)

“Hip hop and rock go well together!” says Wilkes of the rock-hop medley that opened with a school bell ringing and dancers erupting into a flurry of walkovers, cartwheels, roundoffs, rolls and toe touches. For hip-hop transitions, try Wilkes’ favorite, “basketballs” (just imagine bouncing an invisible basketball).

n  Song: “Short Shorts,” by The Royal Teens; “Dazzey Duks,” by Duice

n Genre/Level: jazz and hip hop; intermediate to advanced (competition group); 8- to 9-year-olds and 11- to 12-year-olds

This medley allowed two classes to dance together. The group, costumed as cowgirls in denim boy shorts, gingham shirts and bandanas, evoked sassiness and Southern charm, combining pas de bourrées, jazz pirouettes and grand jetés with toe touches, locks, pops and kicks. The number ended with all the dancers lunging, posing and lifting each other onto their shoulders.

n Song: “Elevator,” by Flo Rida; “(You Drive Me) Crazy,” by Britney Spears; “Bring it Back,” by Jae Millz

n Genre/Level: hip hop; advanced (12- to 18-year-olds)

This rock-heavy number opened with dancers wearing “straitjackets” as they crawled, rolled and clawed across the stage, imitating escapees from a psych ward. (Wilkes made the costumes by cutting collars off men’s button-down shirts and fastening the sleeves with Velcro.) As dancers convulsed their jackets off, they transitioned into the next song.

n Song: “Old Time Rock ’n’ Roll,” by Medicine Hat

n Genre/Level: tap; beginner (7- to 8-year-olds)

Motts chose this song because it’s light and fun. It also helps beginning tappers find the downbeat needed to smoothly perform basic steps, such as flap ball changes, traveling time steps and maxi-fords, as well as patterns like diagonal lines, circles and two-by-twos.

n Song: “Me and My Gang,” by Rascal Flatts

n Genre/Level: jazz; 14- to 15-year-olds (“junior elite”) 

Dancers wore sequined tops, studded pants and pink cowboy hats as they entered from opposite sides of the stage and made use of a prop box decorated with a bridle and saddle. They climbed on and off it during various intervals to transition into fouetté turns, slides and lots of leaps. The twangy country song has an electronic rocker edge that spices up jazz routines perfectly.

n Song: “Beautiful Goodbye,” by Jennifer Hanson

n Genre/Level: modern/lyrical; advanced

This number was choreographed and performed by two alumni and best friends who still take technique class and teach at the studios. Their dance used extensions and balances, complementary leaps, turns and weight-sharing work to tell the song’s story of friendship.  DT

Lee Erica Elder is a writer in New York City.

News
Getty Images

Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

Keep reading... Show less
Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

Christy Funsch's teaching career has taken her from New York City to the Bay Area to Portugal, with a stint in a punk band in between. But this fall—fresh off a Fulbright in Portugal at the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, School of Dance (ESD), teaching and researching empathetic embodiment through somatic dance training—Funsch's teaching has taken her to an entirely new location: Zoom. A visiting professor at Slippery Rock University for the 2020–21 academic year, Funsch is adapting her eclectic, boundary-pushing approach to her virtual classes.

Originally from central New York State, Funsch spent 20 years performing in the Bay Area, where she also started her own company, Funsch Dance Experience. "My choreographic work from that time is in the dance-theater experiential, fantasy realm of performance," she says. "I also started blending genres and a lot of urban styles found their way into my choreography."

Keep reading... Show less
News
Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.