Music for contemporary

Takehiro Ueyama’s path to becoming a choreographer is a perfect example of how sometimes the art chooses you. Growing up in Japan, he originally wanted to become a professional baseball player. After an injury when he was 16 derailed that plan, he got hooked on the burgeoning b-boying craze, though it was something he did with his friends for fun, never a career option. It wasn’t until he was 20 that he stumbled into his first modern dance class at a teacher’s invitation—and hated it. “All of a sudden, movement became so dramatic,” he says. “I just wanted to move and dance and turn and jump. It was none of that. We were on the floor forever.”

Then, he took a workshop from Graham teacher Kazuko Hirabayashi. “Her class changed my mind—her philosophy and her movement, the structure of her class. Electricity went running through my spine.”

Today, Ueyama creates work for his contemporary company, Take Dance. His style, a merger of his Eastern upbringing and Western training, is full of sweeping arcs and cyclical patterns that are alternately fluid and frenetic, quiet and explosive.

Without his influential teacher, he might never have stayed in the dance world. It was thanks to Hirabayashi that he came to New York and auditioned for The Juilliard School. He had never been on his own before, let alone in a foreign country. “I couldn’t even figure out the Juilliard application,” he says. “She made everything happen. I didn’t know what to eat. She packed lunch boxes for me.”

Another stroke of serendipity led him, after graduation, to audition for the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Still a newcomer to American modern dance, he was only familiar with Taylor’s greatest hits, particularly Esplanade, which Ueyama had performed in a Juilliard concert. “It was such a great piece. I thought it might be nice to dance that kind of dance many times for many years,” he says. As though it was always meant to be, he went on to dance for eight years with the Taylor company.

Looking back on his performing career, Ueyama knows “it was like a dream job.” But, he adds, “I wasn’t 100 percent happy, because I knew something was missing. I knew I wanted to do something on my own. I wanted to be myself.” DT

 

Artist: Les Tambours du Bronx

Album: MMIX

“This French percussion band plays with a powerful rhythm. It really works with my movement, especially when it gets athletic.”

 

 

Artist: Ana Milosavljevic

Work: Reflections

“Ana is a composer of poetic sensibility. This is a timeless composition and one of my favorite works. A rhythmic piano phrase provides a constant undercurrent for the piece. It’s like a huge ocean canvas, while the violin melody is like a brush that adds colors and creates motion, waves and wind.”

 

Artist: Eiji Miyoshi

Song: “Ame (Rain)”

“This is a type of Japanese traditional song called enka from the postwar era. It’s a sentimental ballad, and Eiji’s beautiful vocals are unforgettable.”

 

 

Artist: Michael Jackson

Albums: Thriller and Off The Wall

“I began dancing after I watched MJ moonwalk for the first time during the Motown 25th Anniversary performance. I often listen to his songs when I warm up before a rehearsal or performance.”

 

Artist: Mozart

Work: Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K488: Adagio

“This particular Adagio movement resonates with my Japanese roots. To me, each note of the solo piano sounds like a cherry petal falling, while the powerful orchestral score sounds like hanafubuki, the cherry blossoms in full bloom, falling like a snowstorm.”

 

Photo by Quinn Batson, courtesy of Takehiro Ueyama

The Conversation
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy of Hightower

The beloved "So You Think You Can Dance" alum and former Emmy-nominated "Dancing with the Stars" pro Chelsie Hightower discovered her passion for ballroom at a young age. She showed a natural ability for the Latin style, but she mastered the necessary versatility by studying jazz, ballet and other forms of dance. "Every style of dance builds on each other," she says, "and the more music you're exposed to, the more your rhythm and coordination is built."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Burklyn Ballet, Courtesy Harlequin

Whether you're putting on a pair of pointe shoes, buckling your ballroom stilettos or lacing up your favorite high tops, the floor you're on can make or break your dancing. But with issues like sticking or slipping and a variety of frictions suitable to different dance steps and styles, it can be confusing to know which floor will work best for you.

No matter what your needs are, Harlequin Floors has your back, or rather, your feet. With 11 different marley vinyl floors available in a range of colors, Harlequin has options for every setting and dance style. We rounded up six of their most popular and versatile floors:

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

Dance teachers have a lot of strengths (communicating corrections, choreographing gorgeous movement, planning excellent recitals, cleaning technique—just to name a few) but when it comes to interior design—talent isn't exactly a given. So when studio owners remodel or build, worrying about the decor can feel a little overwhelming (you've got just a few too many other things to worry about, don't you?).

No need to fear! In 2019 we have Pinterest, which shows us all the latest trends we should know about. To help you make the best design decisions for your studio, we've compiled a list of public Pinterest pins we think you'll love.

You're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Insure Fitness
AdobeStock, Courtesy Insure Fitness Group

As a teacher at a studio, you've more than likely developed long-lasting relationships with some of your students and parents. The idea that you could be sued by one of them might seem impossible to imagine, but Insure Fitness Group's Gianna Michalsen warns against relaxing into that mindset. "People say, 'Why do I need insurance? I've been working with these people for 10 years—we're friends,'" she says. "But no one ever takes into account how bad an injury can be. Despite how good your relationship is, people will sue you because of the toll an injury takes on their life."

You'll benefit most from an insurance policy that caters to the specifics of teaching dance at one or several studios. Here's what to look for:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Vanessa Zahorian. Photo by Erik Larson, courtesy of Pennsylvania Ballet Academy

At the LINES Ballet Dance Center in San Francisco, faculty member Erik Wagner leads his class through an adagio combination in center. He encourages dancers to root their standing legs, using imagery of a seed germinating, so that they feel more grounded. "Our studios are on the fifth floor, so I'll often tell them to push down to Market Street," says Wagner. "They know that they should push their energy down to the street level." By using this oppositional force, he says, dancers can lengthen their bodies to create any desired shape.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Success with Just for Kix
Bill Johnson, Courtesy Just for Kix

Running a dance studio is a feat in itself. But adding a competition team into the mix brings a whole new set of challenges. Not only are you focusing on giving your dancers the best training possible, but you're navigating the fast-paced competition and convention circuit. Winning is one goal, but you also want to create an environment that's fun, educational and inspiring for young artists. We asked Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner with over 40 years of experience, for her advice on building a healthy dance team culture:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Getty Images

After years of throwing summer parties at your studio, you're likely fatigued by coming up with themes and event details. You want your students to have a good time, but you're also up to your eyeballs in choreography and costume decisions.

Never fear! We've come up with party themes and activities to do during the event. Delegate tasks to your teachers and office managers, and voilà! You have a stress-free party ready to go.

Have a blast, people!

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by World Class Vacations
David Galindo Photography

New York City is a dream destination for many dancers. However aspiring Broadway stars don't have to wait until they're pros to experience all the city has to offer. With Dance the World Broadway, students can get a taste of the Big Apple—plus hone their dance skills and make lasting memories.

Here's why Dance the World Broadway is the best way for students to experience NYC:

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Thinkstock

Q: I recently returned to a modern dance class after a long absence. While I didn't feel any acute pain at the end of class, the next morning I could barely walk from the soreness in both my Achilles. What can I do to fix this?

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

Q: I'm trying to think of ways to maximize studio space and revenue during the summer. What has worked for you?

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

In 2019, dance parents are more eager than ever to observe their child's progress, and stay up-to-date with the ins and outs of what's happening in the classroom. That means yearly recitals aren't always enough to keep them satisfied—especially if you have rules against visitors observing class from week to week. The solution? Visitor observation weeks. Trust us, the guardians and loved ones of your students will love you for it!

We caught up with Suzanne Blake Gerety, vice president of Kathy Blake Dance Studios and regular contributor to Dance Teacher's "Ask The Experts" column, to hear her tips on how to have a successful visitor observation week.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Adequate dorsiflexion mobility is needed to find a supple demi-plié needed to bound into the air and land safely. Getty Images

Dancers are trained to think often about the range of motion, stability and power of their extended lines: the point of the foot, the reach of the penché, the explosion of the sauté in the air. But finding that same mix of flexibility and strength in the flexed foot is just as integral to technique and injury prevention. Without adequate dorsiflexion mobility, it is nearly impossible to find the kind of supple demi-plié needed to bound into the air and land safely.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox