The familiar pain the day after a strenuous dance class is both rewarding and fatiguing, but a fulfilling class is always worth the after-effects. Jacqui Young, director of Push Factor, taught a company class, which I was fortunate enough to attend. Her unique style blends jazz, in its classical and contemporary forms, with rock music from all ages. In a combination about finding one’s inner ugliness, Young seeks to defy traditional “pretty” lines through abstracting positions so that they are irritating and in fact ugly, thus entertaining her theme.
As a dancer, contradicting a lifelong philosophy of creating strong beautiful positions was not an easy task. I struggled to find a balance between distorting a shape and maintaining a strong core. Even through this one combination, I could tell that Young likes to work in this limbo between strength and deformation.
With her emphasis on high-speed, high-impact athleticism, Young is an expert in the field of leaps and jumps. Perhaps the most meaningful advice for me was her comment on switch leaps. “Release in your hips, “ she said. “ Your flexibility is there, but you grip [upon switching in the air].” A switch leap is more like a breath, where you inhale for the prep and then “exhale through your legs.” I think this feedback is significant for all aspiring dancers who tend to work so hard they can limit their own strengths.