This Choreographer's Got Talent

Lynne Patton, director of Rocky Mountain School of Dance & Performing Arts in Denver, wowed judges this year on “America’s Got Talent.” The Silhouettes, her performing company made up of dancers of all ages (the youngest just turned 4!), creates unique shapes behind a screen, fitting perfectly into photo overlays. “That was one of the most brilliant things I’ve seen in a long time,” said “AGT” judge Piers Morgan. But how does Patton transform her dancers into works of art? DT spoke to her to find out.

 

Dance Teacher: Aside from “America’s Got Talent,” does Silhouettes ever compete?

Lynne Patton: All of the dancers in Silhouettes are competition dancers, but they don’t compete with the screen. I would love it if we could, however most of the competitions have a rule that we can’t turn the lights off. They do perform about once a month, often for corporate shows, creating custom logos.

 

DT: What are the biggest challenges when creating routines for Silhouettes?

LP: The screen is absolutely unforgiving. You cannot get away with having a dancer off her mark or having a dancer not turn out, because everything is blown up. And we can’t really see what we’re doing in the studio. We only have 12-foot ceilings and our screen is 18 feet high, and you have to be able to step away from it as well. We actually have to rent a theater if we want to see what we’re making. Plus, every theater is different. Every light we use and the dimension of that light to the screen changes, so the true preparation is actually done right before each show. They may have to angle their bodies in a different way because of the dimensions of light to the screen. If you were looking at it from behind the screen, you’d wonder why the dancers aren’t facing straight front. But when you’re in front of the screen, it looks like they are.

 

DT: Do the students work with you to create these designs?

LP: Oh yes. For instance, we were using a picture of a Denver convention center that has this huge blue bear statue outside of it. I had kids hanging upside down on each other just trying to make this bear happen, and after about three hours of this, one student said, “Hey Ms. Lynne, wouldn’t it be easier if we just got closer to the light and held our arms out like paws?” Such a simplistic approach, and it worked. We’ve learned that the possibilities are endless with what we can do behind that screen.

 

Rocky Mountain School of Dance & Performing Arts

Denver, Colorado

Lynne Patton, owner/artistic director

 

Years in business: 20

 

200 students

 

Number of students in a performance company: 70

 

Number of students in Silhouettes: 42

 

Photo: "The America Show is my favorite," says Patton of the number performed on "America's Got Talent." "It's filled with so much patriotism and energy, and the kids just love it." (by Trae Patton, courtesy of NBC)

 

Click here for footage of The Silhouettes in performance, creating the big blue bear and in The America Show.

Music
Allie Burke, courtesy Lo Cascio

If you'd hear it on the radio, you won't hear it in Anthony Lo Cascio's tap classes.

"If I play a song that my kids know, I'm kind of disappointed in myself," he says. "I either want to be on the cutting edge or playing the classics."

He finds that most of today's trendy tracks lack the depth needed for tap, and that there's a disconnect between kids and popular music. "They have trouble finding the beat compared to older genres," he says.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Courtesy Lovely Leaps

After the birth of her daughter in 2018, engineer Lisa McCabe had reservations about returning to the workforce full-time. And while she wanted to stay home with the new baby, she wasn't ready to stop contributing financially to her family (after all, she'd had a successful career designing cables for government drones). So, when she got a call that September from an area preschool to lead its dance program, she saw an opportunity.

The invitation to teach wasn't completely out of the blue. McCabe had grown up dancing in Southern California and had a great reputation from serving as her church's dance teacher and team coach the previous three years (stopping only to take a break as a new mother). She agreed to teach ballet and jazz at the preschool on Fridays and from there created an age-appropriate class based on her own training in the Cecchetti and RAD methods. It was a success: In three months, class enrollment went from six to 24 students, and just one year later, McCabe's blossoming Lovely Leaps brand had contracts with eight preschools and three additional teachers.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Courtesy Shake the Ground

Dance competitions were among the first events to be shut down when the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in the U.S. in mid-March, and they've been among the last able to restart.

So much of the traditional structure of the competition—large groups of dancers and parents from dozens of different studios; a new city every week—simply won't work in our new pandemic world.

How, then, have competitions been getting by, and what does the future look like?

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.