Elevate Your Moves: Discovering the Artistry of Jazz Technique

Elevate Your Moves: Discovering the Artistry of Jazz Technique

Reclaiming the Joy of Dancing

Ahh, summer vacation – a time of beaches, sunscreen, ice cream, and s’mores, right? Well, not for me. Every year, I use these precious months to return to my first love: dance. You see, while I thoroughly enjoy being a dance teacher and studio owner during the school year, there’s just something magical about simply being a student again, learning new skills and techniques from other experienced dance instructors.

The feeling of pure freedom, exhilaration, and amazement that washes over me when the music starts and my body lets loose with liberating dance moves is truly unparalleled. It’s just plain old fun! As I’ve mentioned before, I believe it’s crucial for me and my incredible dance teachers to remember how it feels to learn new dance moves that may not come easily at first. That way, we can bring that empathy and patience back to our students during their own local dance lessons.

Adapting to the Evolving Landscape of Dance

But it’s not just about the joy of dancing. Over the past 23 years since opening my studio, All That Jazz, I’ve come to recognize that the dance world is ever-evolving. The techniques and styles I learned when I first started out may not be accurate or relevant anymore. That’s why I relish every opportunity I get to dive back into the studio, whether it’s in person or virtually, to learn from the industry’s top dance leaders.

In fact, this past summer, I found myself logging on to my computer from the comfort of my home dance studio in Newton, Massachusetts, and dancing my heart out alone in my basement. Typically, these dance teacher conferences happen in New York City, allowing me to take classes in person from famous choreographers. But with the pandemic, I had to adapt to the virtual world.

Embracing the Virtues of Virtual Dance

And you know what? I may have enjoyed these online dance classes even more. In this new digital realm, I found myself more willing to take risks and try even harder. Sure, I missed the energy and camaraderie of dancing with a large group, but there was something to be said for the intimate, almost private nature of the experience. With the teacher pinned on my screen, it was almost like they were giving me my very own dance lesson, and I didn’t have to fight for space since my basement was all mine (until my son kicked me out for his Xbox, that is).

The Art of Storytelling Through Jazz Dance

Now, as my teachers and I prepare to reunite and share all that we’ve learned over the summer, I’m more excited than ever to continue our mission of creating the best dance studio in Newton for kids. And at the heart of our offerings lies the dynamic fusion of Broadway energy and jazz rhythms – a style we call “Broadway Jazz.”

In our signature Broadway Jazz class, designed specifically for pre-teens with a passion for performance, we’ll be diving into the world of this iconic dance style. Over the course of two weeks, these young dancers will explore the foundational techniques that have lit up the stages of musical theaters for generations, all while learning the art of storytelling through movement.

Mastering the Fundamentals

What can participants expect? First, they’ll delve into the basics of Broadway Jazz technique, which blends classic and contemporary moves to create a truly dynamic and captivating style. From there, we’ll turn our attention to the art of crafting the showstopper – elevating their skills as we choreograph a full Broadway musical number and infuse each dance with personality, expression, and a touch of theatrical flair.

The goal is to help these budding performers develop their stage presence and teamwork skills, all while preparing for an exciting family showcase at the end of the camp. After all, Broadway Jazz is not just about the technical mastery; it’s about capturing the essence of the musical theater experience and translating it into the language of dance.

The Importance of Embracing Vulnerability

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But what about the technical aspects? Shouldn’t we be focusing on perfecting our technique first?” And you’re not wrong. Technique is undoubtedly important, and it’s an ongoing journey that never truly ends. But the truth is, music and dance are not purely cerebral, mechanical activities. There’s a crucial creative and emotional component that elevates a performance from good to great.

As music producer James Hawkins eloquently explains, making music and dance is an artistic endeavor that demands vulnerability, empathy, and the willingness to take risks. It’s not about following a rigid set of rules or formulas; it’s about connecting with the music, exploring the tensions and releases, and allowing your true self to shine through.

Embracing the “Non-Reader” Mentality

And here’s the thing: some of the most renowned composers, producers, and vocalists in the industry don’t read a single note of music. They trust their ear, their instinct, and their emotional connection to the art form. As Hawkins points out, reading music is only half the battle; the other half lies in understanding the spaces between the notes, the silences, and the nuances that bring a musical line to life.

So, whether you’re a seasoned dancer or just starting out, I encourage you to embrace the “non-reader” mentality. Forget about the technical jargon and the perfect execution for a moment, and instead, focus on connecting with the music on a deeper, more emotional level. Experiment, explore, and allow yourself to be vulnerable. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but I promise, the rewards will be worth it.

Elevating Your Artistry through Collaboration

Of course, this journey of self-discovery and artistic growth doesn’t have to be a solo endeavor. In fact, I’ve found that the most transformative experiences often come through collaboration and mentorship. That’s why, in our Broadway Jazz camp, we’ll be fostering a supportive environment where the students can learn from one another, build lasting friendships, and develop the confidence to take risks and express themselves fully.

And as their instructor, I’ll be there to guide them, offering encouragement, feedback, and a safe space to explore the creative process. Because at the end of the day, my role as a dance educator isn’t just about imparting technical skills; it’s about nurturing the artistry within each and every one of my students, helping them to discover the magic that happens when they truly let go and embrace the freedom of movement.

So, if you’re ready to elevate your dance skills and uncover the artistry that lies within, I invite you to join us on this journey of discovery. Who knows – you just might find that the true joy of dance is not just in the perfection of the steps, but in the vulnerability and expression that brings them to life.

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