#WhyNotWednesday: Ryan Heffington Breaks Down His Cryptic “Chandelier” Choreography

Some teachers use counts to mark out their combinations. Others say the names of the steps in rhythm or use sound effects—Sheila Barker coaches students through tricky weight changes and body undulations with a “pow, wiggy, zig, ahh” oratory that sounds like scatting. But then there’s Ryan Heffington.

The now-famous Sia choreographer basically recites an absurdist monologue to go with his wacky, gestural movements. Last weekend, a friend of mine took his dance-fitness class at The Sweat Spot in Los Angeles. While describing his approach, she said he called a double hop with fist-pump “party party” and taught them all a “lily-pad jump.” Then she pointed me toward this video, and it all fell into place.

Here, Heffington talks through the totally out-there choreography Maddie Ziegler performs in the “Chandelier” music video. His descriptions definitely make the moves easier to recall and give a peek into how it’s all “supposed to” read. See what you think, and share in the comments section how you talk through your own choreography!

I can’t pick a favorite between the “fork, fork” sequence and the “cockroach” part:

Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

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Dancer Diary
Claire, McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

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Music
Mary Mallaney/USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, courtesy Osato

In most classes, dancers are encouraged to count the music, and dance with it—emphasizing accents and letting the rhythm of a song guide them.

But Marissa Osato likes to give her students an unexpected challenge: to resist hitting the beats.

In her contemporary class at EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles (which is now closed, until they find a new space), she would often play heavy trap music. She'd encourage her students to find the contrast by moving in slow, fluid, circular patterns, daring them to explore the unobvious interpretation of the steady rhythms.

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