Teachers' Tools: Up Close With Cindera Che

Teachers share the philosophies and materials that make them successful in their careers and classes.

When teaching ballet/jazz class for kids, Cindera Che applies the discipline of classical ballet but acknowledges that her 7- to 11-year-old students are there to have fun and release excess energy. It’s a balance Che found lacking when she looked for a dance class for her own 8-year-old daughter. “They were either really strict, and it seemed like there was no joy, or they were not disciplined at all,” she says. “I realized I had to teach it myself!”

Che, who teaches at L.A.’s The Sweat Spot and EDGE Performing Arts Center, asks young dancers to curtsy to her as they enter the studio one by one. She curtsies back, setting the tone for the beginning of class. “You’re now entering a creative space,” she tells them. “You are here to create; you are here to get better.” After technique-focused barre and jazz progressions, she rewards students with more creative freedom, asking them what kind of story they’d like to tell. When she really wants them to let loose, she asks dancers to finish their across-the-floor routine by opening their arms and running across the studio, screaming at the top of their lungs. “Kids are always told not to make noise, not to be loud, but I just ask them to let it all out,” she says. “If you’ve been frustrated or exhilarated, or if you’ve been holding it in because you’re so scared, just let it out. I want to develop young artists who can use dance as a tool to express themselves.” DT

Che teaches in Capezio dance sneakers and recommends her students wear the same.

“We often dance with chairs to develop spatial awareness.”

To teach anatomy, Che helps students tape tissue paper onto a skeleton. Dancers can then experiment with how muscles and bones interact. “They see where turnout comes from or which muscles will help their arabesque.”

For comfortable classwear, Che loves American Apparel’s Summer T.

Che swears by the calf-sculpting powers of Balanced Body’s Foot Corrector.

Classroom photos by Michael Palma; shirt by Emily Giacalone; others courtesy of manufacturers

News
Getty Images

Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

Keep reading... Show less
Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

Christy Funsch's teaching career has taken her from New York City to the Bay Area to Portugal, with a stint in a punk band in between. But this fall—fresh off a Fulbright in Portugal at the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, School of Dance (ESD), teaching and researching empathetic embodiment through somatic dance training—Funsch's teaching has taken her to an entirely new location: Zoom. A visiting professor at Slippery Rock University for the 2020–21 academic year, Funsch is adapting her eclectic, boundary-pushing approach to her virtual classes.

Originally from central New York State, Funsch spent 20 years performing in the Bay Area, where she also started her own company, Funsch Dance Experience. "My choreographic work from that time is in the dance-theater experiential, fantasy realm of performance," she says. "I also started blending genres and a lot of urban styles found their way into my choreography."

Keep reading... Show less
News
Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.