Weight on Both Feet – Part 4 of a dancers experience in Summer Study NYC 2014

September 19, 2014

Off we go into the second week of our Summer Intensive at Steps on Broadway. This week Donald Byrd will be the Master Teacher, Manuel Vignouelle is coming in for Creative Tools, and a talk with members of the Steps Ensemble about living, maybe surviving in New York as a dancer is on the schedule. Not too shabby I would say.

Ok, I must be honest. The first class with Donald Byrd didn’t feel like my kind of thing at all. His class is ballet based and very accurately executed which are both not my strengths as I prefer gooey and floor-bound dancing. But already after the second class I started to realize how much I would benefit from taking his class everyday for a week. If I wasn’t in the program, I might not have come back and wouldn’t have had the chance to listen to the wisdom that is Donald Byrd. The overall class was pretty heavy on technical exercises and we would redo them until we “let our head drop” or “put our weight back on both feet”. With so much passion for teaching and vehemence in seeing his corrections arrive in our body, Mr. Byrd really was a pleasure to work with. Complete opposite to Kevin Wynn the week before which for me is the exciting part of the program. All of us Intensives felt very welcome in Mr. Byrd’s class and left it everyday with more knowledge about our bodies and dancing technique. Working with such a brilliant man was really an honor.

Besides that we had Creative Tools this week with Manuel Vignouelle. Manuel taught us his choreographic tools with a huge smile and his happy spirit. After a short yoga warm up, we began with writing our name with different body parts, in different levels, different sizes and speed. What started off looking like a therapeutic eurhythmy class was the class that influenced our personal pieces we created throughout the workshop the most. While one person would write her name forcefully in the air, another was supposed to interrupt and manipulate the writer. This interactive exercise turned into the basis of our relationships in the pieces we created. I must say, this week was for me the week of positive surprises and wouldn’t end with Creative Tools.

Later that week, after classes, we had an appointment with three dancers from the Steps Repertory Ensemble to talk about being a professional dancer in New York. I didn’t except much from it for me personally, as I had already booked my flight back home to Germany after the workshop to build a life as a professional dancer in my hometown. But this talk turned out to be another positive surprise for me. Carley, Malik and Lane answered everything they could about money problems, motivation, age and professional dancing, cross training, and confidence as a dancer. Patricia, Marketing Director or Steps on Broadway, and Cassie provided us all with cookies and drinks while we were hanging on every word our fellow dancers said–especially after we had seen their skills just the week before at “Celebrate Dance” (refer to the other blog?). An hour of inspirational words and funny stories and we were charged to take on the professional dance life in New York. Even I reconsidered for a second there.

Week two definitely was an eye opener for me and made go beyond my comfort zone. I can’t believe we’re already half way done. Next week will be with Aszure Barton and Mark Dendy and I can’t wait how they will influence my choreography and dance skills.

-Sinah Diepold
Freelance Writer, Summer Study Student

Weight on Both Feet – Part 4 of a dancers experience in Summer Study NYC 2014