Dance Teacher Tips
Schermoly with the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Photo by Jeremy Brick

Despite her traditional ballet training in South Africa, Andrea Giselle Schermoly has always had a wide range of music tastes and sensibilities. "There's always been this other drumbeat in my heart," says Schermoly, who's a three-time Outstanding Choreographer winner at the Youth America Grand Prix. That "other drumbeat" has become an integral layer to her creative process.

Following a series of career-ending injuries while dancing with Nederlands Dans Theater, Schermoly found a new stride choreographing competitive ballet pieces for students at the Marat Daukayev School of Ballet in Los Angeles. Since then, she's been commissioned by ballet companies all over the world, exploring all styles of music for her work. "My pieces for New York City Ballet and Royal New Zealand Ballet were primarily classical," she says, "but I used Jefferson Airplane and a very quirky rock opera for Santa Barbara Dance Theater and a Bob Dylan piece for BalletMet."

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Dance News
Lloyd Culbreath with dancers reconstructing "Take Off with Us" from All That Jazz. Transmission-Roots to Branches. Photo by Vibecke Dahle, courtesy of The Verdon Fosse Legacy.

How does a choreographer maintain the authenticity of his or her work? Unlike the words in a book or lyrics from a song, attributing movement isn't as black and white.

This makes the job of The Verdon Fosse Legacy, the organization that holds the rights and maintains the authenticity to Bob Fosse's work, that much harder.

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Dance News

It's that time of year again! Dancers everywhere are pregaming for 4th of July festivities by wearing their best red-white-and-blue dance gear, and planning where their team will meet up to watch their city's long-anticipated (and potentially illegal) firework show. It's flat-out patriotic!

To keep up with the celebration (and to solidify yourself as your student's favorite teacher for at least the next month), we've compiled 20 songs that are great for your Independence Day dance class this year. Whether you're in need of music for a jazz, hip-hop or ballet class, with a little creativity, these songs are sure to bring down the house.

Check 'em out! Oh, and you're welcome 💁♀️.

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Just for fun
Screenshot via YouTube

Warning: "Get Stupid" is about to be stuck in your head—again!—and you'll love every second of it.

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Dance News

OK Go's "I Won't Let You Down"

The 2015 Video Music Awards were last night and this year’s nominations for Best Choreography were as impressive as they were diverse. Fan favorites Beyoncé, Ryan Heffington, NappyTabs and Keone and Mari Madrid were up for the coveted prize, but no video wowed more than “I Won’t Let Your Down” by OK Go, choreographed in collaboration with Japanese choreographer air:man and Mori Harano. Their scooter-riding, umbrella-popping group number filmed with a drone earned them the VMA. Congratulations OK Go and choreographers!

Dance News

 

Ok Go dancing on scooters

Yesterday, MTV announced nominations for the network’s 2015 Video Music Awards, including five in the category of Best Choreography. Ryan Heffington (of Sia and Maddie Ziegler fame) made the list, not for his cage-fighting “Elastic Heart” video (though it was nominated in another category), but for his work with roller skaters in Chet Faker’s “Gold.” According to director Hiro Murai, they filmed the video during a 14-hour shoot on a dark road in California, meaning not—as I’d guessed—on a giant treadmill in front of a green screen. Either way, I’m impressed.

Also nominated:

  • Beyoncé’s "7/11" with Chris Grant’s and Beyoncé’s choreography sped up for a Charlie Chaplin effect.

  • "I Won’t Let You Down" by OK Go. Their latest eye-popping vid features some cool hands-free scooter moves and umbrella formations captured aerially by drone with the help of Japanese choreographer Air:Man.

  • "Never Catch Me" by Flying Lotus featuring Kendrick Lamar was nominated, with some cool, though dark, choreography on young dancers at a funeral, by Keone and Mariel Madrid.

  • And finally, NappyTabs (a.k.a. Tabitha and Napoleon D’Umo) did the choreo for Ed Sheeran’s nominated "Don’t," starring Phillip "Pacman" Chbeeb and his otherworldly animation skills.

Winners will be announced when the VMAs air on August 30.

Dance News

As any teacher of high school dancers knows, adolescence can be a confusing and scary time. It's important for students to know where they can turn for help, especially when friends, family members and teachers aren't enough. (Be sure to read DT's story, "Extreme Measures," for advice on spotting signs of distress in teens and how to help them.) In their newest music video, Train sends a powerful message about teen suicide—and they do it through dance.

The band partnered with media company SoulPancake to create “Give It All,” which stars dancers Israel Harris, 16, and Ashleigh Mitchell, 17. In the piece, choreographed by Tani Ohashi and Kelly Bahr, Israel copes with the loss of Ashleigh amid imagery of ashes and hopeful rays of sunlight. In the end, alarming statistics about teen suicide rates appear on the screen. The video was released in May, as part of Mental Health Awareness Month. Its final message urges anyone struggling or who knows someone struggling with thoughts of suicide to contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Dance News

Bruce Weber and Kathryn McCormick in the “Ocean”

Congratulations to John Torres, the latest winner for Dance Teacher’s Video of the Month!

The singer-songwriter’s newly released music video for his single “Ocean” features a seaside duet by “SYTYCD” star Kathryn McCormick and Cirque du Soleil dancer Bruce Weber. Stacey Tookey (DT, December 2012) choreographed, bringing to life Torres’ theme of an emotionally troubled relationship.

The piece was filmed on location in the chilly Pacific surf of Southern California, which posed a challenge to the dancers. “The outcomes of those extreme conditions are always the best,” Tookey says. “You have to be prepared to dance anywhere. As long as you know your parameters and you feel safe, you have to go for it. You’ll walk away with that footage or that photo and think, ‘That’s so cool. I did that.’”

As a choreographer on the “Ocean” shoot, Tookey’s responsibility was to help the director achieve his goals while considering the dancers’ limitations and safety. “Sometimes directors will push hard because they don’t know how physically demanding what they’re asking is,” she says. Requests for dancers to perform on the beach were met easily, as was the suggestion that they dance partially submerged in water. But when the crew asked to try the whole routine waist-deep in water, “I said, ‘Absolutely not!’” Tookey says, citing the impossibility of executing movement in water that deep. “It’s about communicating, collaborating and keeping your dancers safe, while pushing the limits as much as you can.”

Want to build buzz about your studio, workshop or class? Posting videos to the Dance Teacher Video of the Month Contest is quick, easy and free—and it’s a great way to get noticed. If your video is selected as Editors’ Choice, you’ll be featured on this page, and you’ll win a free one-year subscription to DT! Don’t miss out on a great opportunity—visit dancemedia.com, share your videos and vote for your favorites.  Any and all kinds of dance are welcome.

Photo courtesy Sundari PR

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