Our sneak peek at dance shows we’d love to see
It’s a new year, and I’ll bet you have some sort of self-improvement goals for 2016. If one of them is to become a better teacher, try this: imagine that each time you enter your school you are walking in the stage door, prepared to give the best performance possible.
Our sneak peek at dance shows we’d love to see.
If you’re looking for an intensive tap experience for you or your students, we’ve got you covered. Just browse through our annual listing of national and international festivals, most of which include workshop classes, performances, and more.
Intelligently designed, effective scenery provides the perfect background for your dancers, enhancing their performance and instilling a professional tone in your show. As we hear from two experienced studio owners and an award-winning set designer, modular set pieces put smart design within everyone’s reach.
“Killing It”: And that’s the point. The boys were able to perform well not because they’ve had years of dance training (I assume), but because they got it. If they hadn’t performed with intent and commitment (not to mention expressions that ranged from intentionally blank to starry-eyed to open-mouthed delirium), this skit would have been painful to watch instead of laugh-out-loud funny.
“Missing It”: Comedy is tough, I tell my students. We have to display technique while taking a figurative pie in the face. We can’t break character. We have to trust one another. Even if we do all that, and do it well, comedy is precarious. One man’s Adam Sandler movie is another man’s headache.
Beautiful technique, gorgeous feet, and a whole lot of desire for excellence—that’s how I would describe the world-class ballet dancers I saw at the 2014 USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. From classes to performances to teacher workshops, everything about the event was a class act.
There are two singing ensembles in my area. One boasts 100 chosen-by-audition voices trilling out six-part harmonies. In performances the singers wear black-tie garb and are accompanied by a professional orchestra—with a harp.
Intensive tap festivals abound, and most include workshop classes, performances, and more. Whether you’re on the hunt for a great tap experience for your students or yourself, you’ll find the right fit in our listings.
I love dance neophytes. Accompanying one of those newbies to a performance—whether it’s their first exposure to dance in any form, to a particular kind of dance, or to a specific work—has the added perk, beyond the performance’s offerings, of a delicious mingling of pleasures.
Today was such a special day. Our annual recital, like most, is so much more than a performance—it’s a chance for all of our students to dance their hearts out in front of their families and friends. From the tiniest preschooler to the teenager with nine dances to remember, they all look forward to their moment onstage where they can share their love for dance.
Adults know that dancers at a competition should warm up, stay focused, bring extra hairpins, and probably not get hopped up on soda. But what seems obvious to adults is not necessarily clear to students. Learning to prepare for a performance is as important as learning routines. That means that no matter how busy teachers and school owners get as competition days approach, they can add one more thing to their to-do list: teaching preparedness to students. Here’s how to do it.
During performances the audience looks at the dancers’ faces first, and then moves on to the choreography and technique. To encourage students to explore facial expressiveness without feeling embarrassed, try this between barre exercises: have them close their eyes and then call out expressions for them to try.
For this year’s holiday issue, we decided to take a cue from TV’s popular cooking show Top Chef, in which chefs concoct an innovative dish using specified ingredients or limitations. For our version of this challenge, we gave five choreographers a list of dance and theatrical ingredients to use in cooking up a holiday spectacle.
Looking for an intensive tap experience for your students or yourself? Festivals can be found from coast to coast and beyond, most offering workshop classes, performances, and more.
Call me odd, but I love going to recitals. Doesn’t matter if I know a single dancer—I just enjoy seeing the show. That’s how I found myself strolling on a Saturday night through the gilt-and-red-velvet decor of yet another theater lobby, on my way to yet another recital.
Dancers tell stories with movement. And the story that Half and Halves: A Dance Exploration of the Punjabi-Mexican Communities of California tells is no small tale: it tackles immigration, agriculture, xenophobia, ambition, and the necessity of love.
I suppose we all knew it would come to this. The Mackay Daily Mercury in Queensland, Australia, ran a front-page story in October when a 10-year-old dancer was cut from a dance company performance due to missed rehearsals.
Only a few minutes ago, they were swinging, twirling, and balancing over our heads. Now the 12 dancers are earthbound, standing in front of parents and friends on a Saturday afternoon last March, as poised and gracious a group of teenagers as you are likely to encounter. Members of San Francisco’s Zaccho Youth Company (ZYC), they have just shown excerpts of their repertoire, performed on the floor and on trapeze, hoops, and a multi-paned “window.”
Hadsel is the director of Curtains Without Borders in Burlington, Vermont, a conservation project that finds and restores theatrical scenery curtains and drops. Her team of professional conservators rescues curtains—most painted between 1890 and 1940—that once decorated the stages of hundreds of granges (home to various political and social rural-based organizations), town halls, and other community buildings. They find them in musty attics and dusty below-stage spaces, where they were rolled up years ago and forgotten, and restore them to their former glory.
Dance studios and programs across the country tend to put most of their emphasis on nurturing budding dancers and give little thought to offering training, support, and opportunities for young choreographers, particularly aspiring teenage dancemakers. But look harder and you’ll find that choreographic mentorship is thriving in three North American programs.
2 Tips: Be visual and a creative and visual routine starts with creative ideas, a concept first and then the music.
Today much about music and its relationship to dance training has changed. When I was in public school, I was introduced to classical music. By listening to recordings of Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach, I absorbed the emotional colors and range of different composers.
A little girl with curly hair stared at Elizabeth Mello with saucer eyes. “You can touch my tutu,” said Mello, at that moment clad in swirls of deep purple tulle as would befit any Sugar Plum Fairy. “Go ahead, you can touch my pointe shoes.” The little girl slid off the chair and gently tapped the tops of Mello’s toes.
If ever there was a dance form that represents a melting pot of cultures, it would be flamenco, which began in the Andalusia region of southern Spain. It was there that the confluence of 700 years of Muslim rule, the presence of Jewish and Indian music, and a Gypsy population allowed a dance to develop that came to be seen as the epitome of all things Spanish.
Reasons to dance may be as numerous as dancers themselves, but for the Soaring Eagles, it’s a way to connect with long-lost Native American ancestral roots
Change My World . . . Coming March 26 & 27, 2010, 8:00 pm
Bridgewater/Raynham High School (Massachusetts)
Proceeds to benefit The Sherry Gold and Hugs for Healing Foundations
More info: www.renniegold.com
Triple threats—performers who can dance, sing, and act—may have a better shot at show-biz success than their specialist counterparts. So do dance studios offering the musical-theater classes to build those skills also have a competitive advantage? Some studio owners think so.
It’s so common it’s almost cliché: A teacher spends hours drilling technique, perfecting turns, straightening lines, and cleaning up arm placements. Then, just as the class steps onstage, she yells, almost as an afterthought: “And smile!”
It is the ever-present challenge for all dance teachers, a singular topic gnawing at you when you’re brushing your teeth and when you’re grocery shopping, when you’re in the car and when you (finally) go to sleep at night: How do we find music suitable for classes and performances that a) won’t have bad words, b) won’t have tactless innuendos, and c) won’t bore my students? Where is the music that is fun and choreograph-able and, quite important, appropriate?
The misuse of drugs with a goal of enhancing performance has been common practice for decades. Among dancers, amphetamines used to be a problem because they were commonly used in diet pills. Dangerous quick-fix approaches—instead of regimen and nutrition—intersected with misguided body imagery and produced a perfect storm. We’ve learned a lot since the heyday of Dexatrim, but new threats to our health continue to crop up, often touted as a safe and simple way to ensure a competitive edge.
There’s nothing quite like a live dance performance to recharge the studio atmosphere. Whether it’s a local troupe or a world-renowned ballet company, dance teachers report post-show increases of focus, enthusiasm, and dedication in the classroom. In this story, three dedicated teachers chime in on how they have made seeing dance a priority in their studio culture.
It’s recital-planning time, and if you offer ballet at your school, you’re probably wondering how to avoid hearing audiences grumble when your ballet students take the stage. Jazz, lyrical, and tap routines are audience pleasers because they tend to be upbeat and showy. But all too often recital ballet numbers are slow and repetitive or danced by students who aren’t up to the challenge—and that kind of presentation gives ballet a bad rap. Audiences who are subjected to unimaginative choreography and shaky pointe work think the b in “ballet” stands for “boring” or even worse, “bad.” Well, it’s time to change that!
Your costume fits perfectly. Your parents are in the audience, along with a few aunts and uncles and the cute guy from your math class. Other dancers are warming up nearby while the stage manager gives the dreaded 5-minute “Places!” warning. You are completely ready and, for all purposes, good to go. You have been in rehearsals for weeks now; you know your stuff inside and out and you went through your solo just 10 minutes ago. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to feel panic.
Recently, when I was contemplating seeing La Sylphide, one of the oldest ballets, and Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch’s world premiere of A Doll’s House, one of the newest, on the same program, I started to wonder how technology has affected dance. Welch came up with the idea of programming these ballets together as a way to honor the past and look forward to the future all in one night. Pairing the old with the new sets a striking contrast and invites us to make comparisons about how much has changed, technologically speaking, over the years. Exactly how do we define technology in dance?
A dancer stands still onstage. In a blink of an eye, with what looks like no preparation whatsoever, he catapults himself forward at an angle nearly parallel to the floor. As if that alone were not daring enough, the floor is some three feet below him, making the move look even more impossible.
All dance teachers want to bring out the best in their performing groups. Although many factors are involved, the most important one is to create a nurturing, stimulating working environment. Ideally, you want to establish a family feeling that encourages the dancers to work together toward a common goal. To ensure that, no dancer should be made to feel more important than another. Performance groups that consistently feature one or two dancers or showcase male dancers excessively run the risk of making the others feel less important.
Dancing to imitate a stag frolicking on the hillside. Dancing over the sword of a vanquished enemy or on top of a shield pierced by a spike. Dancing to keep warm outside of church while waiting for the priest to arrive. Dancing to kick off the hated English trousers and return to the beloved Scottish kilt. Such are the colorful stories surrounding the origins of Highland dance.
What does the holiday season mean to dance teachers? For many the Nutcracker season is in full swing, while others are rehearsing for that special holiday performance. Some are frantically getting their costume orders together and others are locked in their studios trying to get their competition choreography looking halfway decent before the first time out. For these teachers, the few days they will have off this holiday season won’t come quickly enough—or last long enough.