Tag Archives: Stretch Dance Co.

Life Lessons Learned From Dance Class

I’ve been dancing since I was three years old, but it’s only recently that I realized that all that time spent onstage has taught me some vital life lessons beyond pointing my toe correctly and fluffing my tutu.

1.  Be nice to your costume designer.

In theater, one person you never want to piss off is the costume designer.  Why?  The costume designer can make you look fabulous…or they can stitch your pants just tight enough to show your muffin top.  Not many of us have costume designers in real life, but this important life lesson has taught me that every job is vital, and every person has their specific purpose.  An architect’s design is only as good as the team who assembles it.  Treat everyone with the same respect, even if they aren’t the ones in the spotlight, because chances are they’re the ones who can make your job that much easier…or make you wear a mustard yellow spandex unitard.

 

Stretch - Dance Class

2.  Practice makes permanent .

In my dance studio growing up, the phrase wasn’t “practice makes perfect,” but “practice makes permanent.”  If you practice the wrong things, that’s what’s going to stick.  If you always procrastinate, or if you only do your work with half the focus, that’s how you’re training yourself to respond to all situations.  The same holds true outside the studio as well.

3.  How to set goals like a pro.

I also learned that progress is a series of tiny, almost invisible improvements.  I don’t aim to do everything perfectly in dance class, but I focus on a few goals to get me through the day, like lifting my leg a little higher, or going for an extra pirouette across the floor.  Life is the same way.  It can be hard to try a new fitness routine, or on keeping my car clean, or to cook more than I eat out, but if I focus on the baby steps each week, I’m much closer to make progress.

4.  The small things will get you hired…and fired.

There is a very strict, mostly unspoken etiquette in dance. Showing up early, wearing clothes that don’t get in the way of dancing, turning off your cell phone, and a strong focus on the task at hand prove a dancer’s mettle almost as the diva who can whip out 32 fouettes, but shows up half an hour late all the time.  These same mannerisms, along with my ability to pick up on unspoken etiquette, has gotten me jobs outside the theater.  It’s amazing how much the little things can make an impression on others…and conversely, I’ve seen others deal with the fallout that seemingly insignificant practices.

5.  The final performance is out of your hands.

Now matter how many weeks and hours you practice, live performances are subject to last minute disasters.  I’ve seen broken bones, fire alarms, slippery floors, tangled jump ropes, broken shoes, and countless other small catastrophes that are almost impossible to prepare for, but at the end of the day the show must go on.  Life is a live performance.  It’s important and necessary to prepare as much as you can, but at the end of the day, you have to work with what life throws at you.  It’s no use beating yourself up about what you couldn’t prepare for, so be happy with what you did accomplish and get on with the show!

Stretch - Denai Being a Badass

The Next Era of Dance

Same Love   Stretch Dance Company   YouTube
Theatrical dance relies on the emotions underneath the piece to inform the dancing, not the other way around.

WHAT IS THEATRICAL DANCE?

Put this question to a professional dancer and even they might be stumped.  It’s not really musical theater dance.  It’s not concert dance.  It’s not the dance you do while waiting in the ridiculously long line for the bathroom at a theater.

We may not know it yet, but theatrical dance may be the next evolution of movement, thanks to new generation of versatile dancers.  Whereas it was once good enough to be the master of one form, the modern dancer must be as fluent in ballet as they are in break dancing to remain competitive in an increasingly diverse environment.

Television and YouTube have helped bridge the gaps between the different types of dance, and myriad studios offering any and every kind of dance have given birth to a new type of dancer who has learned Bollywood and ballet in the same studio.

Such a diverse and talented new generation of dancers have set the stage—literally—for shows like So You Think You Can Dance, America’s Next Best Dance Crew, and even Dancing with the Stars, ushering in a whole new era of dance that blends the established techniques of different forms to tell create story-specific movement.

Think back to your favorite piece from So You Think You Can Dance.  Do you remember the amazing dancing, or the amazing story told through the dance?  I’ll bet you’ll remember the story better than you remember how many pirouettes, or how high their jumps were.

Stretch - Bench
Many routines on SYTYCD uses short, yet intense stories to capture the audience

These shows have capitalized on their dancers utilizing a wide range of techniques, but have blended it with strong–yet succinct–story telling.  It’s the perfect format for today’s fast-paced world: a snippet of easily digestible story with a strong narrative.

Add to that a modern flair that mixes hip hop dancers with ballerinas or tappers with a contemporary vibe or a pas de deux with aerial—something that the dance critics would have found horrifying fifty years ago–and you have the recipe for a form of dance that is as powerful as it is adaptable.

Each of these shows relies on each dancer’s individual talents and their ability to seamlessly adapt to new styles and partners while still maintaining a through line.  Shows like SYTYCD gleefully reimagine how dance is pieced together every single week.

This adaptability makes theatrical dance the perfect form for Stretch Dance Co.  Theatrical dance takes advantage of the many talents of our dancers, focuses on the individual strengths of each one, and is flexible enough to transition from a dramatic look at the Holocaust to playfulness of Lady Gaga.

Theatrical dance takes the richness of all the traditions of dance, and yet eagerly steps outside the box to suit its purposes, which is exactly what Stretch Dance Co works for in every dance, every song, every story.  This new trend in dance is already popping up onstage, on screen, and on the streets, but few have realized that these dances reach beyond traditional forms and into a brave new frontier.

Stretch - Fierce