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For Hip Hop Teacher Chaz Bodily, Creativity for Choreography Can Strike Unexpectedly

Bodily with his Center Stage Performing Arts Studio dancers at Nationals (here) and (at right) with his Creative Arts Academy students at a competition. Photo by Tisha Dayton, courtesy of Bodily

Chaz Bodily consistently creates hip-hop numbers that take top awards at some of the most prestigious conventions in the country. His work is equal parts innovative, entertaining and tasteful. The Utah-based choreographer splits his time between three highly competitive dance studios: Dance Impressions, Creative Arts Academy and Center Stage Performing Arts Studio.

It all begins with a concept, says Bodily, who trained in hip hop, ballroom, contemporary and ballet at Center Stage Performing Arts Studio. "Coming up with the story is the hardest part," he says. "I run seven or eight miles every day, and the entire time I'm just generating ideas." Once an idea comes to mind, he writes it down, then runs it by a trusted group of friends and fellow artists to gauge interest. "I can tell pretty quickly if something's going to work or not," he says.


Creativity can also strike at unexpected times. For example, the concept for a recent piece he created for Center Stage came to him while he was at home watching "The Dating Game" on television. "This guy came onto the show who was super-funny and cocky, and he immediately reminded me of one of my dancers," he says. "It was just too perfect. It gave me the vision for the whole thing." The piece that resulted is a humorous take on the show. "Hip hop doesn't have to be serious," he says. "It's one genre where you can be funny and make people laugh."

"I find my music by digging 40 layers deep into iTunes," he says. "I'll buy a song, and then Apple will recommend something else that I might like. It's like song Inception. By the time I'm 40 layers deep, I will find the perfect track that nobody has ever heard of before." With theme and song solidified, Bodily is ready to delve into the choreography. "I try not to make the movement too intricate," he says. "The dancers freak out over that kind of thing, but the audience (including the judges) just wants to have a good time and see the big moves they recognize from music videos."

One final word about age-appropriate concerns that come with the hip-hop territory: "You have to know the line because you are dealing with kids," he says. "I want my kids to feel confident, but they don't ever need to be inappropriate."

CLASSROOM RULES: "Don't have a bad attitude, and don't eat oranges in my classroom. They make me gag."

FAVORITE TEACHING TOOL: "I film my combos with a gimbal (basically a selfie stick) to make my students feel like they are being filmed professionally, and get used to dancing in front of a camera."

GO-TO BREAKFAST: "I have the same breakfast every day: a strawberry-banana smoothie, egg whites and a protein bar."

MUST-WATCH DANCE VIDEOS: "I highly recommend anything that Keone and Mari Madrid put on YouTube."

HIP-HOP WARM-UP: "I have a set warm-up that mainly focuses on getting the blood flowing—jumping jacks, push-ups and up-downs."

Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine

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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:

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abezikus/Getty Images

"Dancers can do everything these days," I announced to whoever was in earshot at the Jacob's Pillow Archives during a recent summer. I had just been dazzled by footage of a ballet dancer performing hip hop, remarkably well. But my very next thought was, What if that isn't always a good thing? What if what one can't do is the very thing that lends character?

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