Teachers share the philosophies and materials that make them successful in their careers and classes.
While performing in eight Broadway shows every week, Aladdin ensemble member Daisy Hobbs also makes time to book frequent teaching gigs, where she exposes dancers to musical theater choreography. Sometimes this means teaching a morning class in New Jersey before boarding a bus for the 45-minute trip back to Manhattan in time to center herself before an 8 o’clock curtain. She tolerates the tight schedule to give back to the dance community and fuel herself creatively. “It’s not for everybody. Most dancers want to be sleeping on their time off,” she says. “Honestly, I love the days when I get to teach before a show. It gets me pumped up and inspired.”
Hobbs finds New York–area studios online and reaches out to them, offering to lead a 60-minute theater dance class followed by a Q&A session. Once she’s in the studio, she wastes no time assessing the capabilities of the dancers and adjusting the combination accordingly. “Sometimes I talk to the studio in advance, so the kids can already be warmed up when I get there,” she says. Replicating the basic structure of an audition class, she moves quickly through across-the-floor drills and spends only about 20 minutes introducing the combination.
She teaches her own choreography to popular Broadway songs. “The Nicest Kids In Town” from Hairspray is a go-to, and not just because students everywhere know and love it. “The tempo of that song takes so much energy to do a two-minute dance,” she says. “Doing that makes them realize what it’s like to be in a Broadway show,” where you’d come offstage panting and have “five more production numbers after that.”
There are no shortcuts to meeting those kinds of physical demands, she says. “I eat really healthy and work out every day,” she says, adding, “You have to get sleep when you can.” DT
For affordable dancewear: “My favorite pair of pants are the basic black Danskin leggings. They are only $15 at Walmart, and everyone thinks they’re Lululemon!”
Must-have gadget: “I love my new Kindle Fire HD. It’s super compact, and I have my playlists on it. Before I had my Kindle, I traveled with my 10-lb laptop to studios!”
Favorite footwear: To perform, Hobbs wears custom-made LaDucas. For teaching class, however, she reaches for shock-absorbing sneakers (Skazz by Sansha shown).
To stay in shape: “I like really energetic, intense bootcamp-type classes, but to counteract possible knee and joint pain,
I love to take yoga a few times a week.”
Photos from top: by Kyle Froman; courtesy of manufacturers; tea ©Thinkstock