Photo by Wendy Turner, courtesy of Boulder Jazz Dance Workshop

This summer, as for the past 42 years, students will flock to Colorado to immerse themselves in jazz dance training and performance. High school and college students, professional artists and teaching artists alike will find opportunities for growth and connection.

The Boulder Jazz Dance Workshop honors tradition while also embracing innovation and change within the jazz dance genre and dance field in general. Before executive/artistic director Lara Branen began the Workshop, she and her co-founder Michael Geiger had studied at separate times with San Francisco jazz teachers Ann Garvin, Linda Heine and Ed Mock. Later Lynn Simonson became their primary inspiration. Each year Branen invites new guest artists to join long-term faculty who devotedly return year after year, including: Wade Madsen (modern dance), Nancy Cranbourne (jazz), Christy McNeil Chand (jazz) and Meghan Lawitz (contemporary). This summer will include lyrical, musical theater rep and a heels class, in addition to the program's regular offerings.

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Teaching Tips

2019 has been rife with fantastic holiday songs that are simply BEGGING to be choreographed to. From Pentatonix to Kacey Musgraves, these bangers are the perfect match for your upcoming holiday-themed jazz class. Use each song for different elements of class (warm-up, across the floor, combo, etc.), or have your students get in groups and assign each one a different song from the list to choreograph to. The options are endless, but the general feeling of joy will be the same.

YOU'RE WELCOME! And happy holidays, everyone!

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This sequence takes dancers through several foundational poses of the Giordano jazz technique. These positions aren't stagnant—they flow together with continuous energy. Nan Giordano stresses that the dancer's powerful gaze is quintessential to authentic technique. "That's my dad's look—the Giordano eyes," she says. "All the intensity comes through the eyes, focusing and imagining, but not seeing anything."

"Things rooted in the black community tend to be confiscated or diminished," says the founder of Joel Hall Dancers & Center. "I'm not going to let that happen as long as I'm around." Photo by Dean Paul, courtesy of Joel Hall Dance Center

When Joel Hall enters a studio, students fall silent and rise in respect. He can command a room from its corner with merely a facial expression, but more often, he takes charge by getting into the thick of the dance, letting the beat of the house music move him and pulling meaning and emotion from each dancer. A well-timed "yes!" can thrust a penché to 180 degrees. A snapped finger and a "work!" can bring out the inner diva in even the shyest student. And an ecstatic "oh!" can move hips like mountains.

"I instill in my dancers the discipline of proper training, but I also let them know they have a voice—a voice that shows where they came from—and I want to hear it," Hall says. "My class is tough, and I get fabulous people out of it."

Towering over his students, with unparalleled stature and grace, Hall may appear intimidating. But those lucky enough to have been part of his story know that he is much more than a fierce commander of the studio—he is made up almost entirely of heart.

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"I've found that across-the-floor shows dancers how to use their skills in choreography," says Dozois. Photo courtesy of Platinum Dance Center

At Platinum Dance Center in Edina, Minnesota, Talya Dozois runs the competitive dance program like clockwork: organizing the team's attendance at a minimum of four regional competitions every year, choreographing 10 to 12 solos and six group routines, bringing in guest choreographers and coaching dancers one-on-one. Her role as competition artistic director is a full-time job, yet Dozois keeps teaching a priority through her two weekly jazz technique classes for preteens and teens. "They are really rewarding classes for me," she says. "It is so nice to see where they started to where they are now."

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Photo by Kyle Froman

Boross studied extensively with jazz legend Matt Mattox, wrote his master's thesis on Mattox's career and has been a professor in six university dance programs. Here, he teaches one of Mattox's codified warm-up exercises.

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The National Dance Education Organization’s first “Jazz Dance: Roots and Branches in Practice” conference is happening at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, July 31–August 3. The four-day conference contains movement workshops of a variety of jazz styles and in-depth panel discussions that cover jazz dance’s past, present and future. Special guest presenters include Bob Boross, Danny Buraczeski, Thom Cobb and Billy Siegenfeld.

The second day of the conference focuses on vernacular styles, homing in on jazz’s historical and cultural roots. The third day delves into theatrical jazz and how the dance form has evolved over time. Topics for discussion include: how to teach jazz dance that is relevant but historically rooted; what is the relationship between jazz dance and music; and how pop culture has changed the face of jazz.

Master teacher Bob Boross will be a presenter at the conference.

Photo by N_Link Photography, courtesy of Salve Regina University

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When Giordano Dance Chicago’s Joshua Blake Carter was in high school, he took jazz from Emily Yewell-Volin. Years later, he can still vividly recall the time she helped him with a particularly tricky step.

"She had us do a tombé coupé jeté, landing on the front leg to go into an inside pirouette," Carter says. "I remember how hard it was, but she really took the time to help us figure out how to make it work. We were dancing to Alicia Keys. Sometimes I can’t remember dances that I choreographed five minutes ago, but I can remember that step and that song."

See Carter in Giordano Dance Chicago’s Closer Than Ever program at The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago through Saturday, February 6.

Photo: by Gorman Cook, courtesy of Giordano Dance Chicago

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