While contemporary jazz teacher Stacie Webster keeps her choreography rooted in traditional jazz, she likes to incorporate soulful music in the studio. "I gravitate toward deep house music because it's a mixture of house, jazz, funk and soul," says Webster, who has taught for the Broadway Dance Center Children and Teens program since 2007. "It creates a good energy and everyone can relate to it, even kids." In addition to the energetic rhythms that keep the class moving and the vocals that add a storytelling element, the genre also helps students to find their authentic voices. "Even when kids are great technical dancers, they lack a certain maturity. I try to pick music they can connect with," she says.
"No formal training. No dance studio. No mentor," says Erik Saradpon about his beginnings in hip hop.
"I think that's why I'm especially tough on these guys, because I don't take the relationship for granted," he says, referring to his students. "I'm like a dad to them. I had a shortage of role models in my life. I wanted that so badly. I project that onto my kids."
Photo by Patrick Andrada, courtesy of Saradpon
Robin Dunn loves to teach the sexy walk in her beginner hip-hop classes, because it's a basic step, yet students can put their own mark on it. Two key things to remember: Maintain a light bounce and relax the upper body throughout. "Another key thing? Put your personality into it," says Dunn.
Ask anyone at the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance how they feel about assistant professor of practice, d. Sabela grimes, and they automatically begin to sing his praises. Not only is he one of the department's most beloved and dynamic educators, he is among the most respected and innovative facilitators of dance today. He teaches the foundational elements of black Afro-diasporic vernacular street-dance practices—aka hip hop. But what makes his instruction unique is that his class is not based on any one hip-hop style. It's not popping or locking, waacking or breaking. And yet, it's all of these and much, much, much more, as Rose Eichenbaum wrote about in DT's August cover feature.
"This is what I like to call my 'PG but LIT' playlist," says Showstopper Dance Convention teacher Taylor Quinn. "That means all of these songs are great for kids 8 and under, and I get to enjoy them, too. I use this playlist for our stretch and warm-up, going across the floor and sometimes even class combos. Enjoy!"
Warning: "Get Stupid" is about to be stuck in your head—again!—and you'll love every second of it.
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We're willing to bet that, by now, you've not only heard of hiplet, you've formed some opinions about it, too. Homer Hans Bryant (DT, February 2008), who coined the term and the dance style (it's a hybrid of hip hop and ballet, and it's pronounced "hip-lay"), knows he has his critics and detractors. But his argument—that he's made a typically formal and stiff style of dance into something contemporary and culturally freeing—definitely has merit. And as the artistic director of the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center and a former principal with Dance Theatre of Harlem, the man clearly has the know-how and credentials to safely train his dancers. "I will tell you, every girl at this school is classically trained. Everyone does ballet, and everything else," reassures one of Bryant's dancers.