This is an interview by Krystyna Lopez for the Fusion Dance NYC monthly newsletter.
Get to know me and my teaching a little better!
1. What is your background as a dancer? (e.g. partner dance and solo, indicate if one dance form is your primary/core, etc.)
Throughout my childhood I was dedicated to ice skating and ballet, then started competing extensively in Latin Ballroom at the age of 16. When I graduated from high school I got a social life through swing dancing and obsessively lindy hopped for 5 years while I was getting my bachelors in Contemporary Dance. I moved to NYC in 2005, participated in commercial dance and stage combat, then finished my Masters in Contemporary and started running blues dances around 2010. Since then I have been teaching Blues & Fusion all over the world, and have invested just enough in Tango, WCS, and Zouk to get myself into trouble on the dance floor!
2. How did you discover fusion dancing and why does it appeal to you?
I discovered fusion through Ivy Grey, who invited me to teach at The Fusion Exchange in Las Vegas. I soon fell in love with the concept and ran with it.
To me fusion is the ultimate form of partner dance where I have the potential to use all of the many skills I have worked on as a dancer, including creativity and improvisation. When done at a high level, I am constantly pushed and given new input to respond to. It’s a constant learning process, and such a high to continuously go outside your comfort zone. No skill is denied from me, and nobody is telling me what I should look like. I can create each dance in a different way, using different skills. It is art in partner dancing at its highest form.
3. What is your background as a teacher? (e.g. why did you want to teach, how did you start, what genres, etc.).
I have been teaching movement since I was 18, helping with the children at the ballet school I attended. I’ve taught pretty much every form of dance that I have performed, but blues and fusion partner dancing is by far my favorite. I love that I can reach anyone through partner dancing, starting right where they are, just coming off the street.
I feel that teaching partnering skills is teaching relationship skills. Everything that happens inside a partner dance is a mirror for our personalities and the rest of our lives. Inner strength, tensile softness, negotiation, consent, reaction times, decision making, problem solving. They all come into sharp focus through learning partner dance. It is so rich.
4. What is your teaching philosophy?
I guess you could say my teaching philosophy is that there are many teaching philosophies, and not just one way to reach your students. For years a strived to find “the best” way to do things, only to discover that all of the ways work best for different people.
I like using imagery, anatomy, concepts, structures, rhythm, tactile information and vocalizations in my classes, to name a few. I am known for teaching very specific body movement while encouraging artistry and personal expression.
My favorite teaching structure right now is through continuously narrowing guided improvisations that lead the dancer to research technique for themselves through coming into contact with constantly shifting similar experiences. I then like to break down important key pieces of information and drill them to exhaustion, then put them back into the improvisations.
5. What do you enjoy most about teaching to fusion dancers?
I love that fusion dancers have the heart of creativity and the energy to throw themselves fearlessly into situations and figure it out. I also love their hunger for knowledge and interest in expressing their emotions on the dance floor.
6. What is the most important thing you hope students learn and/or experience in your class?
I hope they learn confidence in themselves, their bodies, and deepen their connection to other people both socially and physically. I want them to use dance as the tool to learn to walk through the world with the kind of flexible strength that makes you resilient.
7. What advice do you have for people who feel stalled in their dance journey?
Find your spark, wherever that might be. What is the thing that gives you interest? Is it the sensations in your body? The emotions you unlock when you dance? The technical aspect of fitting movements together? The music? Friends and social life?
Follow your spark and let it slowly blossom for you, one interesting thing at a time. Think outside the box, pursue all the small things around that spark, and forget about all the others. Eventually, it might blossom into something that gets you obsessively back out on the dance floor, with new tools for your dance pallet.