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

Dance Teachers Trending
Roshe (center) teaching at Steps on Broadway in New York City. Photo by Jacob Hiss, courtesy of Roshe

Although Debbie Roshe's class doesn't demand perfect technique or mastering complicated tricks, her intricate musicality is what really challenges students. "Holding weird counts to obscure music is harder," she says of her Fosse-influenced jazz style, "but it's more interesting."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Dean College
Amanda Donahue, ATC, working with a student in her clinic in the Palladino School of Dance at Dean College. Courtesy Dean College

The Joan Phelps Palladino School of Dance at Dean College is one of just 10 college programs in the U.S. with a full-time athletic trainer devoted solely to its dancers. But what makes the school even more unique is that certified athletic trainer Amanda Donahue isn't just available to the students for appointments and backstage coverage—she's in the studio with them and collaborating with dance faculty to prevent injuries and build stronger dancers.

"Gone are the days when people would say, 'Don't go to the gym, you'll bulk up,'" says Kristina Berger, who teaches Horton and Hawkins technique as an assistant professor of dance. "We understand now that cross-training is actually vital, and how we've embraced that at Dean is extremely rare. For one thing, we're not sharing an athletic trainer with the football players, who require a totally different skillset." For another, she says, the faculty and Donahue are focused on giving students tools to prolong their careers.

After six years of this approach, here are the benefits they've seen:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Thinkstock

Dance teachers are just as apt to fall into the trap of perfectionism and self-criticism as the students they teach. The high-pressure environment that is the dance world today makes it difficult to endure while keeping a healthy perspective on who we truly are.

To help you quiet your inner critic, and by extension set an example of self-love for your students, we caught up with sports psychologist Caroline Silby. Here she shares strategies for managing what she calls "neurotic perfectionism." "Self-attacking puts teachers and athletes in a constant state of stress, often making them rigid, inflexible and ultimately fueling high anxiety rather than high levels of performance," Silby says. "Perfectionistic teachers, dancers and athletes can learn to set emotional boundaries. They can use doubt, frustration and worry about missing expectations as cues to take actions that align with what they do when teaching/performing well and feeling in-control. Being relentless about applying a solution-oriented approach can help the perfectionist move through intense emotional states more efficiently."

Check out those strategies below!

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Alternative Balance
Courtesy Alternative Balance

As a dance teacher, you know more than anyone that things can go wrong—students blank on choreography onstage, costumes don't fit and dancers quit the competition team unexpectedly. Why not apply that same mindset to your status as an independent contractor at a studio or as a studio owner?

Insurance is there to give you peace of mind, even when the unexpected happens. (Especially since attorney fees can be expensive, even when you've done nothing wrong as a teacher.) Taking a preemptive approach to your career—insuring yourself—can save you money, time and stress in the long run.

We talked to expert Miriam Ball of Alternative Balance Professional Group about five scenarios in which having insurance would be key.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Thinkstock

Since the dawn of time, performers have had to deal with annoying, constant blisters. As every dance teacher knows (and every student is sure to find out), blisters are a fact of life, and we all need to figure out a plan of action for how to deal with them.

Instead of bleeding through pointe shoes and begging you to let them sit out, your students should know these tricks for how to prevent/deal with their skin when it starts to sting.

You're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Brian Guilliaux, courtesy of Coudron

Eric Coudron understands firsthand the hurdles competition dancers face when falling in love with ballet. Now the director of ballet at Prodigy Dance and Performing Arts Centre in Frisco, Texas, Coudron trained as a competition dancer when he was growing up. "It's such a structured form of dance that when they come back to it after all of the other styles they are training in, they don't feel at home at the barre," he says.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Turn It Up Dance Challenge
Courtesy Turn It Up

With back-to-back classes, early-morning stage calls and remembering to pack countless costume accessories, competition and convention weekends can feel like a whirlwind for even the most seasoned of studios. Take the advice of Turn It Up Dance Challenge master teachers Alex Wong and Maud Arnold and president Melissa Burns on how to make the experience feel meaningful and successful for your dancers:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Kendra Portier. Photo by Scott Shaw, courtesy of Gibney Dance

As an artist in residence at the University of Maryland in College Park, Kendra Portier is in a unique position. After almost a decade of performing with David Dorfman Dance and three years earning her MFA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she's using her two-year gig at UMD (through spring 2020) to "see how teaching in academia really feels," she says. It's also given her the rare opportunity to feel grounded. "I'm going to be here for two years," she says, which offers her the chance to figure out the answers to some hard questions. "What does it mean to not dance for somebody else?" she asks. "What does it mean to take my work more seriously? To realize I really like making work, and figuring out how that can happen in an academic place."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by The Studio Director

As a studio owner, you're probably pretty used to juggling. Running a business is demanding, with new questions and challenges pulling your attention in a million different directions each day.

But there's a solution that could be saving you time and money (and sanity!). Studio management systems are easy-to-use software programs designed for the particular needs of studio owners, offering tools like billing, enrollment, inventory and emails, all in one place. The right studio management system can help you handle the day-to-day tasks that bog you down as a business owner, leaving you more time for the most important work—like connecting with students and planning creative curriculums for them. Plus, these systems can keep you from spending extra money on hiring multiple specialists or using multiple platforms to meet your administrative needs.

So how do you make sure you're choosing a studio management system that offers the same quality that your studio does? We talked to The Studio Director—whose studio management system provides a whole host of streamlined features—about the must-haves for any system, and the bonuses that make an excellent product stand out:

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Deanna Paolantonio leads a workshop. Photo courtesy of Paolantonio

Deanna Paolantonio had been interested in body positivity long before diabetes ever crossed her mind. As a Zumba and Pilates instructor who had just earned her master's degree in dance studies, she focused her research on the relationship between fitness and body image for women and young girls. Then, at age 25, just as she was accepted into the PhD program at York University in Toronto, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D).

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Robin Nasatir (center) with Peter Brown and Vicki Gunter. Photo by Christian Peacock

On a sunny Thursday morning in Berkeley, California, Robin Nasatir leads her modern class through a classic seated floor warm-up full of luscious curves and tilts to the soothing grooves of Bobby McFerrin. Though her modern style is rooted in traditional José Limón and Erick Hawkins techniques, the makeup of her class is far from conventional. Her students range in age from 30 all the way to early 80s.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox