What should I expect from workshops called “Performance Skills” and “Creative Tools”? When I read that we have these two exclusive workshops in the summer intensive at Steps on Broadway I was not too sure what to expect. To keep you from the uncertainty I encountered, here is a summary of what we did.
We get to work with amazing choreographers and master teachers like Adam Barruck, Manuel Vignouelle, Sidra Belle, Heidi Latsky, Tiffany, Rea-Fisher, Elisa Monte and Mark Dendy. Just us eight “intensives” picking their brains and getting inside information from some of the most demanded choreographers in New York. Both workshops are scheduled twice a week and our last day we get to perform the pieces from both workshops in the Steps Studio Theater.
The “Creative Tools” Workshop was created by Elisa Monte and Tiffany Rea-Fisher six years ago and has been a major part of Summer Study NYC for the past three years. The objective is for dancers and emerging choreographers to learn skills on how to create pieces on their own. The guest choreographers share their creative process, the tools they use to create movement, and what helps them if they get stuck. It gives us a very intimate understanding of the process of choreographing which you usually only get to experience when being hired by a choreographer. Tiffany chooses choreographers she has either worked with or whose work has intrigued her. “It is a important to find choreographers that can be clear about their process”, Tiffany explained to me, “and also teach it to emerging dancers/choreographers.” Besides learning various aspects of the choreographic process from choreographers like Barruck, Bell, Vignouelle and Dendy, we receive feedback and input from Elisa Monte throughout the whole workshop. She watches us choreograph our own piece in groups of two or three people with the material we have gathered throughout the Creative Tools Workshop and our open classes. Tiffany accompanies us during the whole process and gives the little spark of inspiration whenever we are lost in our pieces.
The other exclusive workshop we have, “Performance Skills”, is with dancer and choreographer Heidi Latsky. Heidi focuses on sharing her experiences of working with Bill T. Jones for seven years and being a highly successful dancer and choreographer all over the world. She starts with teaching us two different breathing techniques, we can use for calming our minds or gathering energy. As a warm-up we start with breathing together and then go into a face massage to make our senses alert to the task ahead. The workshop focuses on teaching us the qualities, which will make us good performers. In the first class, Heidi asks about our expectations of the workshop. We admit to having issues with being confident about our dancing at auditions, performances, or simply a class. After talking about the difficulties of performing, we decide on four different qualities that are crucial for a performer in dance. The piece we learn throughout the four weeks is from Heidi’s own company and combines exactly these qualities. As part of the piece we also get to create and embed our own solo to combine it with Heidi’s movements.
It is very inspirational and a one time opportunity to have top choreographers work with you on your own movement creations. For me, this part of the workshop makes the experience very unique and challenging in an alternative way than physical exhaustion in a technical dance class.
Freelance Writer, Summer Study Student