I am a proud teacher. My students are smart, empathetic, creative, talented and hard-working young women who strive to challenge themselves and seek out opportunities in this amazing city and beyond. Starting in April 2015, I will have a weekly Student Spotlight where one student is showcased and has the chance to share their dance and performing arts pursuits with the e.g.dance audience. Perhaps some people reading will recognize a summer program or high school program that they will be attending. I think this presents a wonderful chance for them to connect to the dance world in an innovative way. Please feel free to let me know if you'd like to reach out to them!

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT

June 2018

CLAIRE

 Claire backstage in 2017. Photo by Ebbe Sweet Photography

Claire backstage in 2017. Photo by Ebbe Sweet Photography

Aside from dancing, what else are your passions or hobbies? Tell us more - favorite books, subjects, pets, places you've traveled, etc.

 Claire performing in e.g.dance performance in May 2017. Photo by Ebbe Sweet Photography

Claire performing in e.g.dance performance in May 2017. Photo by Ebbe Sweet Photography

Aside from dancing, I’m interested in science and research. Just recently I conducted an experiment under a neuroscientist at NYU, measuring the effect of ballet on mental acuity and using our ballet class as the participants of the study! Additionally, I’m passionate about politics and local democracy. I’ve had the opportunity to campaign with the Progressive Caucus Alliance, which is a group that aids progressive and minority candidates in getting elected to council member positions throughout New York City. In that same vein, I am a founding member of the Participatory Budgeting Youth Committee of District 39, a group that helps facilitate the Participatory Budgeting (PB) process in this district. PB is a process through which the constituents of the district can have their voices heard about how discretionary funding is used in their neighborhoods. I was recently promoted to Chair of the committee, and with this new position I hope to increase participation in the PB process in neighborhoods of the district with demographics that are less civically engaged. I also really enjoy going to concerts- I recently went to see the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, and Lake Street Dive at Brooklyn Steel. I love to travel- I most recently took a trip to Chile, where I visited my sister, Katie, during her semester abroad there. I have a new pup, Charlie, who I love to cuddle with, take long walks with, and absolutely love to clean up after! And lastly, probably my absolute favorite thing to do, is to go out and try new places to eat with the people I love.

How long have you been dancing?

I’ve been dancing for about 13 years, the past five of which have been with Erin. Prior to dancing with Erin, I danced at another studio since the age of four.

How often do you train?

 Claire (center) in e.g.dance performance in May 2017. 

Claire (center) in e.g.dance performance in May 2017. 

This year, because I am taking my first year of college courses, my workload has been overwhelming. Thus, I’ve been limited to training only once a week. I take class every Saturday morning for an hour and a half.

What kind of dance classes do you take?

 Claire (second from left) with fellow dancers and her sister, Katie (left)

Claire (second from left) with fellow dancers and her sister, Katie (left)

Currently I am only taking ballet class. However, the years before this year I took ballet and pointe, and the years before last year I took ballet, pointe, and modern. This year I’ve definitely missed taking pointe and modern, for a couple of different reasons. For one, I feel like a lot of what we work on in ballet class can reach another level of difficulty and challenge when taken on pointe, so when I don’t follow ballet class with pointe, I often think to myself “wait, that’s it?”. Without pointe class, I sometimes feel as though I haven’t worked hard enough, or that I haven’t challenged myself enough. Additionally, I think a lot of what we work on in ballet is then extremely useful in modern class. You get to take the strength, flexibility, and endurance that you build in ballet class, and then use it in a more liberating and creative way during modern. Ballet, in some ways, seems like the foundation for pointe and modern, and so without taking pointe or modern, it can feel like I am not challenging myself enough or reaching my creative potential. And while ballet can certainly prove helpful in pointe and modern, I’d argue that the reverse is also true- which brings me to my second reason. I also miss pointe and modern because they’ve helped to improve my ballet. Certain muscles that are stretched in modern or engaged by going on pointe are muscles that wouldn’t normally be stretched or engaged in ballet class. But once you gain, for example, flexibility in your IT band from a very wide second position in modern, or strength in your core from leaning forward to maintain balance on pointe, that flexibility and strength can help in unexpected ways during ballet class. For me, there is a real intersectionality that exists between the classes I’ve taken, which is why next year I hope to be able to take ballet, pointe, and modern classes once again.

Will you dance this summer?

This summer, I hope to attend one of Erin’s intensives or contemporary classes in either June or August.

 Claire (blonde ponytail dangling) in Erin's dance class in 2016.

Claire (blonde ponytail dangling) in Erin's dance class in 2016.

What has dance taught you that you have applied to other aspects of your life?

 Claire in ballet class in 2018.

Claire in ballet class in 2018.

Dance has taught me a couple of lessons, among many others, that I’ve applied to other aspects of my life. The first of the two I’m highlighting here is how to take criticism. It is often easy to get personally offended by critiques and criticism, especially when they are about something as personal as the way you move your body. But dance in general, and Erin specifically, have taught me the importance of learning to take critiques and criticism in an objective manner, as it is then much easier to actually accept them and apply them. Receiving other people’s feedback, in any arena of life, is incredibly valuable, and should not be forsaken because of feeling personally attacked or hurt. The second lesson I’ll highlight here is that comparison, in a healthy manner, is both necessary and beneficial. I am by no means the most advanced dancer in my ballet class. Because of this, I used to avoid comparing myself to other dancers in my class, as a way of shielding my own ego. But once I was able to accept that people are different, and are better at certain things than others, I was able to compare my dancing to that of others in my class, without feeling down about by abilities as a dancer. I learned that comparison in a healthy way is not only possible, but also necessary and inevitable, in dance and other areas of life. In fact, I think comparison is incredibly beneficial. Healthy comparison enables me to objectively acknowledge when someone has a skill I don’t have, or is more advanced at something than I am, and then strive to match their level of skill or ability. These two lessons I’ve learned from years of dancing, which in my mind are incredibly related, have helped me in areas of my life ranging all the way from my school work to my personal relationships with friends and family.

What professional dance performances have you seen this year?

 Claire (left, in pink top) performing in Kate Digby's "Here/Waiting" in e.g.dance performance in May 2016. Photo by Ebbe Sweet Photography

Claire (left, in pink top) performing in Kate Digby's "Here/Waiting" in e.g.dance performance in May 2016. Photo by Ebbe Sweet Photography

I’ve been quite busy and therefore haven’t been able to see many professional dance performances within the past year, however I did work at the Celebrate Brooklyn Festival last summer, where I was able to catch performances by Garth Fagan Dance and Pilobolus, both of which were amazing. I was also recently invited to go see Spongebob Squarepants: The Broadway Musical for a friend’s birthday (I know). What I did like about it was how the performers were able to use dance, coupled with singing and acting, as a mechanism to create a political allegory, highlighting many aspects of what life feels like today, including our uncertainty of the future, and yet, the possibility for optimism. Prior to this year, my mom and I had season tickets at BAM, where I got to see many professional dance performances. One of my favorites was a show entitled Last Work, performed by the Batsheva Dance Company, which I really enjoyed.

What have been your favorite dance moment this year? (One from a seat in the audience, one as a dancer/student/performer?)

 Claire getting notes after a run-through of performance in May 2017. Photo by Ebbe Sweet Photography.

Claire getting notes after a run-through of performance in May 2017. Photo by Ebbe Sweet Photography.

One of my favorite moments from a seat in the audience this past year was watching the rehearsal for Erin’s annual show last May. It was amazing to watch my classmates get ready to perform pieces they’d worked hard on all year long. It was especially gratifying to watch the rehearsals of those whose pieces I’d gotten to personally see evolve throughout the year, like for example, the solo and duet variations on pointe. Being in ballet and pointe class that year, I got to see those pieces evolve, from the beginning stages of setting the choreography on the whole class, to the final stages of getting notes from Erin just before the show. I was incredibly proud of all of my classmates during last year’s show, but especially of those who I’d gotten to see work on their pieces for many, many weeks leading up to the show.

One of my favorite moments as a dancer was in class on a recent Saturday, when we were rehearsing the pieces for a Peek Inside Ballet Class. We had finished rehearsing all of the pieces we’d been working on up until that point, and thought class was over. Then Erin said something along the lines of “alright so the last piece is a tombe pas de bourre sequence across the floor, everyone line up and come in every 8 counts”. From there, she turned on the music, and it was up to all of us to decide how we were going to get across the floor. Erin had removed herself as the choreographer, and put that responsibility on us. It was nice to feel trusted with deciding that choreography, despite how simple or short it may have been, because it showed that Erin really trusted our ability to think on our feet and use the technique we have under our belts to create a piece of choreography.

 Claire (2nd from right) performing in e.g.dance performance in May 2016. Photo by Ebbe Sweet Photography.

Claire (2nd from right) performing in e.g.dance performance in May 2016. Photo by Ebbe Sweet Photography.

 

 

 

April 2018

Lucia

 Lucia in modern class 2018

Lucia in modern class 2018

Aside from dancing, what else are your passions or hobbies? Tell us more - favorite books, subjects, pets, places you've traveled, etc.

I have many other hobbies aside from dance that I would really love to explore more. I’m very much interested in animals, travel, journalism. I hope to volunteer overseas one summer soon. 

 Lucia in Sanbornton, NH at e.g.dance's summer workshop. August 2016

Lucia in Sanbornton, NH at e.g.dance's summer workshop. August 2016

 Lucia in her first year of dance with Erin at Spoke the Hub Dancing. 2007

Lucia in her first year of dance with Erin at Spoke the Hub Dancing. 2007

 

How long have you been dancing?

I have been dancing with Erin since I was four years old!! (I am now 16, that’s saying something)

How often do you train?

Currently at my high school, LaGuardia, I dance everyday for about two and a half hours as well as modern with Erin on Saturday mornings for an hour and a half. Total I’d say I dance on average, 13-14 hours a week.

What kind of dance classes do you take?

As of now I take primarily ballet and modern classes however recently at school we have started learning theater dance, tap, and choreography! I participate in a conservatory style program that focuses mainly on classical dance techniques. It is nice to have that as well as Erin’s own personal style. 

Will you dance this summer?

Right now I am not exactly sure what my summer plans will be. I hope to do some traveling mostly and I hope dancing too!!! 

 Lucia performing with Ruby in e.g.dance student performance in May 2017

Lucia performing with Ruby in e.g.dance student performance in May 2017

 Lulu (standing, furthest right) at Lincoln Center with e.g.dance classmates, attending ABT performance. Spring 2015

Lulu (standing, furthest right) at Lincoln Center with e.g.dance classmates, attending ABT performance. Spring 2015

What has dance taught you that you have applied to other aspects of your life?

Dance has taught me about discipline and artistry. Dance is hardly jumping around to some music, it becomes a way of life. It’s something that you have to love to persue and I think that aspect of it has tested me and who I am as a student entering adulthood. For the most part dance has made everything else in my student career seem easy in comparison. Not because it necessarily is, but because it is one dimensional. To give in to dance you have to give everything you have and I think that is hard to do. I think it is really rewarding to have an outlet like dance to help you break away from life for a bit. 

What professional dance performances have you seen this year?

 Lucia backstage at e.g.dance performance May 2017. Photo by Ebbe Sweet Photography

Lucia backstage at e.g.dance performance May 2017. Photo by Ebbe Sweet Photography

I have seen many professional dance productions in previous years however this year so far I have only seen one. The Boston Ballet's rendition of The Nutcracker. I found this to be one of the better Nutcrackers I’ve seen and trust me, I’ve seen a lot. It was really entertaining to watch and afterwards we got to tour the backstage area since our friends 11 year old daughter was in it. If anyone is in Boston over the holiday break I highly recommend their Nutcracker

What have been your favorite dance moment this year? (One from a seat in the audience, one as a dancer/student/performer?)

It’s hard to pick just one because there are so many! I’d say probably making new friends and meeting new people who have influenced me as a person and a dancer this year. Also entering Erin’s classes this term, as one of the oldest students has been important to me and quite a learning experience. I hope to influence them as the girls above me influenced me

 Lucia in modern class 2017

Lucia in modern class 2017

 

February 2018

ANGELA

 Photo by Ebbe Sweet Photography

Photo by Ebbe Sweet Photography

Aside from dancing, what else are your passions or hobbies? Tell us more - favorite books, subjects, pets, places you've traveled, etc.

 Angela (center) in Modern class in 2016

Angela (center) in Modern class in 2016

Aside from dancing, I have explored a few other hobbies. I’ve been playing the piano since the end of 5th grade and hope to continue for many years. I’m also hoping to delve into the performing facet of music. (I do have a piano Facebook series if you want to check it out - Angela Tanzer!!)  

I have also always loved writing, but have especially refocused myself on it this school year. Lately my favorite thing to read has been the fiction section of the NY times. Whenever I am meditating on a certain thought or idea for a while, writing it down is the first thing that comes to mind for me. What’s so unique about it is that allows one to capture different phases and moments of their life, through the thoughts that they had at particular times during them. It’s unpleasant for people to feel like there are holes in their life with no concrete evidence of what they were thinking or feeling at the time. Writing is like the puzzle pieces connecting a person together.

 Angela in ballet class in 2017

Angela in ballet class in 2017

Poetry is one genre that I’ve started to explore more. I think it is such a powerful and boundless way to express oneself, that permits a lot more freedom than other forms of writing do. Still one of my favorites is Ernest Hemingway’s poem: Baby shoes: for sale, never worn. I’m in a writing program at my school, and they have classes in creative writing (which encompasses poetry, short stories, etc), and playwriting.

Lastly, I love yoga and have taken multiple classes in school, at my local gym, and even at a retreat in upstate New York over the summer. Along with dance, it has allowed me to build flexibility in my body. I have also found it is a way to release stress.

 

How long have you been dancing?

I’ve been dancing for 5 years with Erin, but I also danced a for a few years when I was younger. I started dancing when I was about 6 years old. However, I was also taking gymnastics at the same time, and after a few years I stopped dancing and focused entirely on gymnastics. After this break, I started ballet dancing in 6th grade at Spoke the Hub. From the class I was in, I was led to Erin in 7th grade, who I’ve been with ever since.

 

 Angela working on phrasework in Modern class in 2017

Angela working on phrasework in Modern class in 2017

How often do you train?

I train once a week for three hours. I take one ballet class, and one modern class. Last year, I also took a modern class on Tuesday with Erin.

This year I take yoga at school and an hour and a half yoga class every Monday outside of school, which serves as a supplementary form of exercise for the training I do on Saturday.

 

What kind of dance classes do you take?

I take modern and ballet. When I was younger, I took ballet, tap, and jazz classes at another studio.

 

Will you dance this summer?

This summer I will be around and I hope to participate in Erin’s week long dance intensive! Years ago, I did a summer intensive at Alvin Ailey, so maybe I will look into a summer dance program there. I’m keeping my options open.

 Angela in 2015 e.g.dance student performance (3rd from top)

Angela in 2015 e.g.dance student performance (3rd from top)

What has dance taught you that you have applied to other aspects of your life?

Dance has taught me many important things about myself, about life, and about developing a skill. It has taught me that in order to improve at something, I must work hard and be patient. At times when I used to get frustrated, because I wasn’t seeing myself improve at dance as fast as I wanted to. I felt stagnant, like my dancing would just remain in the same place it was. But it was only a matter of time before I did see improvement in my skills, especially over these last two years. I realized that when I work at something, I won’t see change overnight. Working at an art or craft, whether it be dance or any other, is a continuous process. Practice over an extended period of time, will eventually lead to improvement. Dance has taught me that I shouldn’t get bogged down by how I look on one specific day, instead I should just keep going and know that I will see the fruits of my hard work in no time. I will see my leg extending higher, I will see my leg muscles getting stronger, and feel my hamstrings getting more flexible. But not instantly.

It has also taught me to accept and apply critiques I receive, which is a critical skill in many facets of life.. Although my own sensitivity can sometimes impede the ability to accept suggestions, I’ve realized it’s important to take to heart what a teacher says when they are knowledgeable in their discipline and can really help you. I’ve learned to consider the critiques I receive in dance class, as well as in piano, and in that very moment consider How can I apply this right now? I will try, in that second, to physically make the adjustment in my body, and make a mental note to keep this change in the future. By applying these adjustments to myself, I have also begun to consider why it should be changed, which has led me to a more complex understanding of dance and it’s mechanics.

 Angela putting on stage make-up backstage in May 2015.

Angela putting on stage make-up backstage in May 2015.

 Angela (right) in e.g.dance annual dance performance May 2017.

Angela (right) in e.g.dance annual dance performance May 2017.

Dance has also taught me to be physically comfortable with other people. I think it’s important when the feeling of awkwardness and discomfort with physical contact (or eye contact), that pervades every day life, falls away. This happens in dance class when I am working with other people - I must make contact, do lifts and join bodies together in different ways. Once I’ve worked with someone multiple times, I feel myself becoming more comfortable and familiar with their bodies and how ours work together. This skill of collaboration has been useful in other situations such as in school.
 

What professional dance performances have you seen this year?

I’ve seen Alvin Ailey, Swan Lake, and most recently, the Rockettes.

 

What have been your favorite dance moment this year? (One from a seat in the audience, one as a dancer/student/performer?)

 Angela performing in e.g.dance performance in May 2015 (photo by Ebbe Sweet)

Angela performing in e.g.dance performance in May 2015 (photo by Ebbe Sweet)

My favorite moment in the seat would have to be seeing the Rockettes with my dad. It was my first time seeing them, and the performance was majestic. The ability that these dancers have to perform such synchronized movements was mind boggling to me, and undoubtedly the rest of the audience. Every single body part, on every single dancer, had to be aligned so particularly and without flaws. They made complex formations, like long rotating lines. To think of the training and effort that went into honing these intricate and varied routines is crazy. I remember noticing one girl’s arm go out of place from the rest of the group and thinking she’d made a mistake, but then all of the other dancers started doing the same movement! I was awed by this because it showed how clear and intentional each movement was.

The dancers also had incredible stamina, performing vigorous, aerobic routines with seemingly unyielding energy. There radiant stage presence never faltered, even though inside they might have felt exhausted. From being a dancer myself, I know how hard it can be to maintain composure throughout difficult routines, so I was certainly impressed.

 Angela (right) in Modern class 2016

Angela (right) in Modern class 2016

My favorite dance moment as a dancer, was when I was performing a modern routine, that I’d practiced many times before, with the rest of my classmates. It was a slow piece, with fragile movements. I don’t remember whether it was the while the group I was performing or the other one, but I glanced over at Erin, and she looked so moved. There were tears in her eyes. I can vividly remember thinking in that moment “This is the power of art” And dance specifically. It is a form of expression that, when experienced or viewed, can evoke deep emotions. I also felt that her reaction to seeing me and the other dancers perform it was a testament to the power and strength of our dancing, which made me feel proud.

Another favorite moment was when I was performing a modern routine in Erin’s annual show. It was a strange piece, but in the end I got into it and performed it with the sort of conviction that Erin had been talking about all along. I felt so absorbed by what I was doing, it was almost like none of my surroundings existed. I also had a lift in that piece, and I remember feeling proud of myself for finally mastering timing, which I’d had trouble with before.

 

January 2018

MIMI

 Mimi in e.g.dance annual performance May 2017. Photo by Ebbe Sweet,

Mimi in e.g.dance annual performance May 2017. Photo by Ebbe Sweet,

 Mimi (2nd from Left) getting notes after dress rehearsal. May 2017. Photo by Ebbe Sweet.

Mimi (2nd from Left) getting notes after dress rehearsal. May 2017. Photo by Ebbe Sweet.

Aside from dancing, what else are your passions or hobbies? Tell us more- favorite books, subjects, pets, places you've traveled, etc.

A huge part of my life outside of dance is visual art. Since I am fortunate enough to attend a school which values a holistic education, I have art class every day. The art class at my school is not very formal, my art teacher doesn’t give us any particular assignments, we do whatever we want. I have yet to really center into one style so I change it up a bit for every piece I make. I was really into the expressionist style for a bit and drew a lot of piece with oil pastel, then I got into surrealism and painted a lot with acrylic. Currently, I’ve been working on my figure drawing.  I am mostly self-taught, the art room at my school is full of books and I have learned most of what I know about art from them. I am currently using a book called Anatomy For The Artist by Jeno Barcsay to learn about figure drawings. In addition to drawing, I have a strong interest in film. My parents distribute films so I grew up watching a lot of artsy films and cool documentaries. I enjoy aesthetically pleasing movies with confusing plots and surrealism. One of my favorite movies is Memento, which was directed by Christopher Nolan. It follows a man with no short-term memory who is trying to kill the man who raped and murdered his wife. The movie works backward so there is no context for anything, which really puts you in the shoes of someone with no short-term memory, which is genius. I hope to further my education on films and maybe someday make a few.

 Mimi (center) in performance in May 2017. Photo by Ebbe Sweet.

Mimi (center) in performance in May 2017. Photo by Ebbe Sweet.

 Mimi in Saturday morning ballet class 2018

Mimi in Saturday morning ballet class 2018

 

How long have you been dancing?

I started dancing at around the age of eight with Erin. I only did modern until she finally convinced me to do ballet at the age of ten. So I guess that means I’ve been dancing for nine years total!

 

How often do you train?

I train at the French Academie of Ballet Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and with Erin on Saturdays. All of this adds up to nine hours every week.

 

What kind of dance classes do you take?

I currently only take Ballet.

 

Did you study dance last summer? Where? Why did you choose that program?

 Mimi in performance in May 2017. Photo by Ebbe Sweet.

Mimi in performance in May 2017. Photo by Ebbe Sweet.

 Mimi backstage with fellow dancers. Photo by Ebbe Sweet.

Mimi backstage with fellow dancers. Photo by Ebbe Sweet.

Over the Summer I attended two Summer intensives. The first one being at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB) and the second being at French Academie of Ballet. I chose CPYB because I had attended it two years prior and the program improved my technique immensely. Even though the classes tend to beg rather slow and everyone is very strict, I really enjoy seeing how my dancing becomes more refined and clean. I strongly recommend this program to anyone who wants to improve their technique. The second one was at my year-round dance school. I attended it because it offers classes that I am unable to take during the year such as partnering, character, and contemporary. This intensive is fun because you get to learn a bunch of variations and it gives you opportunities to challenge your artistry.

 In performance May 2017. Photo by Ebbe Sweet,

In performance May 2017. Photo by Ebbe Sweet,

 

What has dance taught you that you have applied to other aspects of your life?

Dance has taught me many things but the most important and applicable trait I learned was persistence. On days where I seem to fall out of every turn or mess up in every combination, I use to worry that I would truly never improve. However, I discovered that the harder I try on bad days, the better the and more frequent the good days become. As corny as it may sound, the trick is to try your best no matter what and eventually you will see results. I apply this to my artwork a lot. When I first begin a new style, I hate all of my pieces. I then go back and try again, practicing new approaches and consulting my teacher and books. Eventually, I begin to improve and my artwork becomes more and more of what I want it to be. My persistence proves to be extremely useful in school as well. If I get an essay back with a lot of corrections, I try not to feel discouraged. Instead, I feel motivated to improve. I take the teacher's corrections and apply them to my next assignment. The persistence that I have learned from dance has helped me to improve my grades and work ethic, which I am very thankful for.

 

What professional dance performances have you seen this year?

I’ve been quite busy this past year so I haven’t been able to see many shows but I was able to catch  ABT’s Romeo and Juliet which was amazing. Principal dancer Hee Seo danced Juliet and she was absolutely amazing. She had such great energy and truly embodied Juliet’s youth and liveliness during the ballet.

 

What have been your favorite dance moment this year? (One from a seat in the audience, one as a dancer/student/performer?)

I really enjoyed watching my fellow students perform in Erin’s end of the year showing earlier this year. Their progress is inspirational and beautiful. I feel like Erin does a good job of teaching people not only how to dance but how to love it as well. I felt everyone’s passion for dance when they performed. As for me, I enjoyed performing the Lilac Fairy variation from Sleeping Beauty. The music is so regal and elegant, I feel like royalty when I dance to it.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 Doing a little stretching after ballet class 2017.

Doing a little stretching after ballet class 2017.

 

November 2016

AGGIE

 Aggie in e.g.dance Modern Class in October 2016

Aggie in e.g.dance Modern Class in October 2016

Aside from dancing, what else are your passions or hobbies? Tell us more- favorite books, subjects, pets, places you've traveled, etc.

My family does a lot of traveling, because we’re a conglomeration of cultures and races and my parents want us all to be connected to where we come from. I started going to visit my family in Ecuador when I was three years old, and as of now I’ve been down there seven or eight times. In 2015, my family also traveled to Ethiopia. It was the first time my youngest brother Yobi had been back there since we adopted him in 2007. My parents also like to plan elaborate vacations, and I have traveled to five out of seven continents and even been within the Arctic Circle when we went to Alaska five years ago!

 Aggie (second from left) in performance with Creative Arts Studio Dance Company in e.g.dance's Annual Performance May 2016 (photo by Ebbe Sweet)

Aggie (second from left) in performance with Creative Arts Studio Dance Company in e.g.dance's Annual Performance May 2016 (photo by Ebbe Sweet)

How long have you been dancing?

I have been dancing since I was eight years old, and before that I took martial arts for three years, which I think really influences my movement style since that was my formative training, rather than a traditional ballet or formal dance environment.

 Aggie in e.g.dance Modern Class in October 2016

Aggie in e.g.dance Modern Class in October 2016

How often do you train?

I have three dance classes on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays respectively, which adds up to about five hours of dance a week. The Tuesday and Thursday classes are both taught by Erin, and the Friday class is actually a rehearsal at Creative Arts Studio for the student dance company that I belong to. I perform several times a year with that company at venues around NYC.

 

What kind of dance classes do you take?

I only take modern classes currently, although when I was younger I took hip-hop instead. Modern is, so far, my favorite kind of dance that I have tried.

 

Did you study dance last summer? Where? Why did you choose that program?

I took two dance intensives over the summer this year. The first was over two days for six hours each day and was hosted by Lauren Beirne at the Actor’s Fund Arts Center in Brooklyn. I chose to attend this program because I was approached about it by Lauren after a dance rehearsal at Creative Arts, since she also teaches there and I was just above the minimum age bracket. I also attended a week-long modern intensive hosted by Erin, which I enjoyed a lot!

 

What has dance taught you that you have applied to other aspects of your life?

Dancing has definitely given me a heightened awareness of my body and movements even in a pedestrian, non-dance setting. It has made me feel more confident in my abilities to move, learn, and grow in all ways. I also think it has improved my abilities to pick up instructions and memorize tasks quickly, which comes in very useful in school. It’s also taught me to take more risks and trust both myself and other people more, because in dance you always have to be confident in yourself and your fellow dancers, even when someone makes a mistake.

 

 Aggie rehearsing with e.g.dance students in November 2016

Aggie rehearsing with e.g.dance students in November 2016

What professional dance performances have you seen this year?

In the past year I’ve been to a few Broadway shows, including Hamilton and Kinky Boots. Both of those shows have strong modern and hip-hop dance elements, which was very cool for me personally because I’m not accustomed to seeing dance from an audience perspective. I also saw clips from the closed Broadway production Tuck Everlasting, which had a more ballet-esque dance style that flowed with the music. It made me really excited to see how even on Broadway, there’s a huge variety in the kinds of dance being used.

 

What have been your favorite dance moment this year? (One from a seat in the audience, one as a dancer/student/performer?)

I think it’s impossible for me to narrow down one specific moment as my “favorite” from this year. Dance as a medium and as an art form is too complex and too meaningful, at least for me, to boil down into a single instant that captures the best of the whole. If I were to try, though, it would probably be this moment a couple of weeks ago where I visited a college that I’m considering applying to and sat in on their Advanced Modern class. I wasn’t dancing, just observing, but the thing that made this experience special for me was how excited everyone seemed to be there, and in turn how excited it made me. It made it seem really possible that I could continue to dance well into college, or even for the rest of my life.

 Aggie (far right) performing in Erin's choreography in May 2016 (photo by Ebbe Sweet)

Aggie (far right) performing in Erin's choreography in May 2016 (photo by Ebbe Sweet)

 

 

October 2016

Pazit

 Pazit rehearsing a pointe variation in 2016

Pazit rehearsing a pointe variation in 2016

Aside from dancing, what else are your passions or hobbies? Tell us more- favorite books, subjects, pets, places you've traveled, etc.

Aside from dancing I love cooking and baking as well as food styling, especially when it comes to breakfast and dessert.  Apart from that involving food, I enjoy rock climbing, skiing (in the winter), and swimming (in the summer). I also love reading, especially fantasy and mystery books.  I like most school subjects, but my favorites are Physics and Calculus.  I really enjoying traveling as well and have gone to different parts of Europe and Canada in recent years.  This winter I’m going to Hawaii with my family.  I’m excited to try new activities, such as snorkeling or waterfall hikes, as well as relax for a week.  

 Pazit in Saturday morning ballet class in 2016

Pazit in Saturday morning ballet class in 2016

 Pazit (far right) in dress rehearsal at eg.dance's May 2015 Annual Performance - Classical Variations Class in Swan Lake

Pazit (far right) in dress rehearsal at eg.dance's May 2015 Annual Performance - Classical Variations Class in Swan Lake

How long have you been dancing?
I have been dancing for ten years.  However, four of those were when I was was very young.  I began ballet in 7th grade and was on pointe after two years.   

How often do you train?

I currently train ballet four times a week, twice with Erin and twice with the French Academie of Ballet.

 

What kind of dance classes do you take?

I currently only take ballet (en pointe) classes because I have found this to be my favorite dance discipline. However, in past years and through summer intensives I have taken modern, jazz, and character dance.

 Pazit (kneeling) rehearsing in Jazz for "FAME" in 2013

Pazit (kneeling) rehearsing in Jazz for "FAME" in 2013

Did you study dance last summer? Where? Why did you choose that program?

I did a three week intensive at the French Academie of Ballet, where I train year round (along with Erin’s training).   

 

What has dance taught you that you have applied to other aspects of your life?

 Pazit (front left) with ballet classmates at an e.g.dance performance field trip to see ABT at Lincoln Center in 2014

Pazit (front left) with ballet classmates at an e.g.dance performance field trip to see ABT at Lincoln Center in 2014

Because I began ballet later than most, I had to catch up on six years of terminology and grace in a single semester.  In doing this, I learned a work ethic that I applied not only to dance, but to the academic portions of my life.  Dance also taught me that if you fall down (in any aspect of life), the most important thing is to get up and keep going.  When I started a few weeks before my twelfth birthday, I knew I would have to try new steps and ways of moving in order to succeed.  I was open to taking risks, even it also meant I fell down a lot.  Thus I learned that when trying something new it’s important to take risks, even if it means falling down sometimes.     

 Pazit rehearsing classical variations in 2016

Pazit rehearsing classical variations in 2016

What professional dance performances have you seen this year?
This past year I have gotten to see few dance performances.  However, one that stuck out was seeing An American in Paris on Broadway last year with my Grandmother.  The combination of traditional Broadway musical and ballet was beautiful and inspired me to get involved in musical theater choreography at my own school.  Since seeing the show, I have been the dance director and choreographer of both school musicals which allowed me to us my classical training for creativity and to teach others.

 

What have been your favorite dance moment this year? (One from a seat in the audience, one as a dancer/student/performer?)

In the Spring of 2016, I performed in SING, a multi-faceted performance at my high school that includes a lot of dance.  In the show, I both choreographed a section on pointe that opened the whole show (I performed with another student) as well as danced in the Modern dance ‘crew.’  There aren’t a lot of shows that include chances to perform both ballet (en pointe) and modern dance, so it was exciting to have the opportunity to do both, as well a choreograph for the first time.  

 

 A view from the wings - Pazit performing "Pas de Quatre" in e.g.dance's May 2015 program.

A view from the wings - Pazit performing "Pas de Quatre" in e.g.dance's May 2015 program.

 

 

May 2016

Zoe & Katie

Zoe and Katie are two of my senior students who are headed off to college in the fall. They are insightful, inquisitive and inspiring young women who have discovered a profound sense of self through their movement. Their friendship, filled with trust, has yielded truly captivating collaborations. I have borne witness to their process in the studio and treasure their ability to challenge one another and communicate their ideas yet somehow never compromise their vision for a piece. I am honored to present their self-choreographed senior duet "to" which was performed at the Actors Fund Arts Center on May 1, 2016 as part of e.g.dance's 2nd Annual Student Performance. If you are interested in their process, I strongly suggest you read below this video to hear about it in their own words.

Who are you? How did you end up in the studio with Erin?

 Zoe and Katie in Teen Modern Class (Winter 2016)

Zoe and Katie in Teen Modern Class (Winter 2016)

Zoe: I'm Zoë Snyder. I'm a senior at Brooklyn Tech. I started dancing with Erin when I was 11 years old. I started with her at Spoke the Hub in her ballet classes. I refused to go to another teacher, so when Erin left Spoke the Hub, I loyally followed. 

Katie: My name is Katie Foley. Im 18 and I was born and raised in Brooklyn. From the age of say 5 or so I began dancing and became very fond of it. I only started dancing with erin 5 years ago when I realized I was unhappy at a prior studio where my freedom of expression was tethered.

Why dance? What does it do for you?

Zoe: My life is very much concentrated around the hard sciences, which can be very overwhelming considering I am a fairly creative and free person. Dance gives me a chance to escape my reality and connect my mind and body. I spend so much time using my brain for academia, it's nice having a chance to use a different realm of my brain. Dance also gives me a chance to care for my body and check in on how it's doing. Sometimes I don't notice how tight my muscles are until I'm at dance.

Katie: Not only is dance an athletic outlet for me, it’s also an emotional one. Along with dancing, acting is a hobby I enjoy because it lets me leave my mind/body in the form of being a character. This as one may imagine is quite emotional and for me dancing is another,more loose, form of acting. It’s another way to leave my everyday self and express some other feeling or idea that the monotony of day to day life doesn’t allow. 

 Zoe in performance - photo by Ebbe Sweet 

Zoe in performance - photo by Ebbe Sweet 

You're making a duet - tell us more about it.

Zoe: Our duet is very intimate. I feel very lucky to have someone I am so comfortable with that I can make such a duet. Our duet was made to make the viewer uncomfortable. Watching our piece is meant to be an experience. It was made hoping the viewer would question our intention behind the piece. It's a strangely beautiful piece. I feel that someone could either love it or hate it. I don't know if I should give away what it's about, because I want the dance to speak for itself. But I guess the basis is that it's the representation of the relationship between a person and a dark force, if you will.

Katie: Well the one important thing I think people ought to know about the duet is the bond between Zoe and me. Prior to classes with Erin, Zoe and I went to school together. Over the 5 years of dancing together and under the instruction of Erin, we became very close. We’re very alike in many aspects and different in others but one special thing Zoe and myself share is the comfort in our own skin and the trust we have in one another.

 Katie in performance - photo by Ebbe Sweet

Katie in performance - photo by Ebbe Sweet

What has surprised you the most about taking dance classes? Either about yourself or about the world around you.

Zoe: I'm surprised at how dance has connected me to my body and how it moves. Learning to control my body has made me aware of how I hold myself and how I perceive how other people carry themselves. I can tell who's in touch with their body and who's still figuring it out. I also play the saxophone, so I'm surprised at how it has helped me appreciate my music and my rhythm. 

Katie: I'd have to say the amount that I rely on dance to get me through my weeks has surprised me the most. I find myself less stressed at school and work when I’ve danced that weekend rather than a week i don’t dance. Theres a significant feeling of grogginess and fatigue during weeks that I have to miss dance or holiday weekends when there isn’t dance class to help me release.

 Katie and Zoe rehearsing on stage at the Actors Fund Arts Center - fellow dancers watch their run-through

Katie and Zoe rehearsing on stage at the Actors Fund Arts Center - fellow dancers watch their run-through

 Zoe, Katie and Erin at the last class of the 2015-2016 year in May 2016.

Zoe, Katie and Erin at the last class of the 2015-2016 year in May 2016.

What's next for you - after high school graduation? Will you incorporate dance into your life? How?

Zoe: After high school, I'm going to go to college. I don't know where yet. Come back in a month and I can tell you (hopefully) :) . I'm going to study either biology or physics. Too soon to tell which. I really hope I will be able to continue dancing. I will try to join a club at my college or a dance group. Maybe search for a studio near by. And of course I will visit Erin when I come back for holidays.   

Katie:  After realizing how much I need dance and how I’m accustomed to always having it, I know that I’ll have to find some sort of dance in my life after high school. Even if I can just spend some time alone in a studio I’d be happy.

 

 

 

April 2016

RUBY

 Ruby, preparing backstage during performance day. Photo by Ebbe Sweet Photography

Ruby, preparing backstage during performance day. Photo by Ebbe Sweet Photography

Aside from dancing, what else are your passions or hobbies? Tell us more- favorite books, subjects, pets, places you've traveled, etc. 

Apart from dance, reading and writing are the other artistic outlets that occupy my free time. I love reading every type of genre, and I think it's impossible to restrict myself to a few named favorites. With my love of reading comes my love of writing. Nonetheless writing has become a work in progress for me. Although it shows difficult at times, I love how palpable words are in a world filled with chaos. English is by far my favorite academic school subject, a close runner up to dance of course. I also love history, and although I haven't traveled much out of the US, someday I hope to travel the world.

 Ruby performing a solo in "Pas de Quatre" in e.g.dance Student Performance in May 2015. Photo by Ebbe Sweet Photography.

Ruby performing a solo in "Pas de Quatre" in e.g.dance Student Performance in May 2015. Photo by Ebbe Sweet Photography.

How long have you been dancing?

I officially started dancing when I was 2 going on 3. I took my first year of ballet at the Russian Ballet in Brighton Beach.  I then started taking dance with Erin when I was four and have stuck with her, or should I say she stuck with me, for 11 years!! And counting of course.

How often do you train?

Currently, I take two period long dance classes every day at school. We alternate between modern and ballet. Also, a three and a half hour dance class with Erin on Saturday mornings, which consists of one ballet class, one variations class, and one modern class. Overall I take around 11 hours of dance every week and I love it!

What kind of dance classes do you take?

Primarily I take modern and ballet classes, however I will occasionally learn snippets of jazz, contemporary, or tap at school as we have a few guest teachers who all bring unique and new aspects of dance to the plate. I love how nowadays dancers are expected to be well rounded because it means as students we get to experience and acquire a number of styles.

Are you studying dance this summer? Where? Why did you choose that program?

This summer I will be attending a two week long intensive at the Joffrey Ballet school in Manhattan. I chose this specific program mainly due to my high school's partnership with the Joffrey. My teacher highly encourages us to audition for the intensives whenever a spot is up for grabs. I’ll also be going to e.g.dance's first sleepaway dance camp on Lake Winnipesaukee in NH!

What has dance taught you that you have applied to other aspects of your life?

Ruby performing Erin's choreography about 10 years ago!

Dance has taught me about dedication, let me tell you, dance is a lifestyle and it’s not near as easy as dancers make it look. Believe me when I tell you that dance literally takes blood sweat and tears. Getting up early on saturday mornings to physically exhaust yourself sounds like torture, but may actually be the thing that I look forward to the most in my week. It teaches me to be motivated and disciplined in all aspects of life.

Dance has also taught me that if I want something, I have to want it for me. Sure I dance for my parents and family, but such a mindset can prove to be dangerous at times because it’s easy to get caught up in the pressure to be perfect. Everybody wants to make their audience in awe of them but if you're constantly trying to impress, dance becomes merely a showcase. You have to want to dance because you love it, because it frees you and it empowers you, not because it makes you look good to other people. Another example is good grades. Obviously I yearn to make my parents proud but in the long run, if I tell myself I really want to get a 100 on that test, the only one who can make it happen is me.

Dance has taught me a lot about rejection. In many ways it tests your passion for dance. I know it has for me. Over the years I’ve gone to multiple straining and stressful auditions. Some I was given opportunities but others have denied me. It's definitely hard but I know that getting over something like this only makes me stronger, and time after time I find that I go into auditions less anxious knowing I’ll try my best but if I don’t get it, there may be a better opportunity waiting around the bend.  

What professional dance performances have you seen this year?

Up until now I have seen Sonya Tayeh, Paul Taylor's American Modern Dance, An American In Paris, Fiddler On the Roof, and Get on Your Feet. The later three are broadway shows all of which were jam packed with wonderful dance numbers.

What have been your favorite dance moment this year? (One from a seat in the audience, one as a dancer/student/performer?)

 Ruby on far left performing "Seven Little Swans" variation in e.g.dance May 2015 performance. Photo by Ebbe Sweet Photography

Ruby on far left performing "Seven Little Swans" variation in e.g.dance May 2015 performance. Photo by Ebbe Sweet Photography

My favorite performance I went to this year was Sonya Tayeh and her company at the New York Live Arts theatre. We even got to talk to her after the show. Sonya Tayeh is no doubt, my favorite choreographer of all time. Me and my mom have been huge fans of her work from the moment we saw her on our favorite show, So You Think You Can Dance. Every dance she creates is a powerful work of art. She never fails to take your breath away. The showing that we saw was about Sonya's relationship with her mother, it was extremely powerful, enough to make several people in the audience shed a tear.

My favorite moment as a dancer was the last time it snowed over 2 feet, and despite the extreme weather conditions, and the fact that it was optional, the majority of students including me, all walked in the snow to take class. I loved this moment because it shows everyone’s dedication and passion.

 

March 2016

LILA

 Lila rehearsing "Here/Waiting" by Kate Digby in Spring 2015

Lila rehearsing "Here/Waiting" by Kate Digby in Spring 2015

Aside from dancing, what else are your passions or hobbies? Tell us more- favorite books, subjects, pets, places you've traveled, etc. 

Other than dancing, I also act, sing, and play piano. This past fall, I auditioned for acting and singing, as well as dancing for High School. On the traveling front, I just recently visited New Mexico to go skiing which I love and had a great time.

 

How long have you been dancing?

I started dancing with Erin when I had just turned four. I am now thirteen years-old and have been dancing for nine and a half completed years and I’m on my tenth.

 Lila preparing to fly during her first year of Erin's Creative Movement class at Spoke the Hub Dancing in 2007.

Lila preparing to fly during her first year of Erin's Creative Movement class at Spoke the Hub Dancing in 2007.

 

How often do you train?

I train almost seven hours a week. I have three classes on Thursdays, one on Fridays, and one on Sundays.

 

What kind of dance classes do you take?

I take modern on Thursdays, modern company on Fridays, ballet and pointe on Thursdays, and Jazz on Sundays.

 

Are you studying dance this summer? Where? Why did you choose that program?

I hope to dance this summer, but I have not yet selected a program. I looked into the Bates Dance program, however I was too young to participate. I am still looking and keeping my eyes open for more options this summer.

 Lila (4th from Left) performing in e.g.dance's Annual Performance in May 2015.

Lila (4th from Left) performing in e.g.dance's Annual Performance in May 2015.

 Lila in jazz class in February 2016.

Lila in jazz class in February 2016.

What has dance taught you that you have applied to other aspects of your life?

Dance has taught me the value of hard work and perseverance. My whole life, I have been the youngest in my dance classes. Therefore, I have not been the best. I’ve had to work twice as hard as other people to do the same dance, but I’ve done it. That’s taught me how important it is to never give up, which I am able to apply to school, other hobbies, and difficult social situations.

 

What dance professional dance performances have you seen this year?

This year has been really busy and sadly I haven’t had the chance to go to many professional dance performances. I did, however, get to see the Nutcracker at Lincoln Center and a few Broadway shows. The Nutcracker was my favorite professional dance performance I saw this year, especially the second half of the show.

 

What have been your favorite dance moment this year? (One from a seat in the audience, one as a dancer/student/performer?)

My favorite dance moment was in Modern Class this fall. One particular class was really intense, We were working so hard to meet the challenge  and because of that, we were able to basically put together an entire dance in one class. It felt so rewarding to be able to see the result so quickly of what we were working so hard for.

 

February 2016

EMMA

 Emma in Ballet Class in October 2015

Emma in Ballet Class in October 2015

Aside from dancing, what else are your passions or hobbies? Tell us more- favorite books, subjects, pets, places you've traveled, etc. 

I love to draw, sketching is a big passion of mine, but photography is one of my biggest passions. Soon I’m going to Nepal, with school. There will be fifteen students, juniors and seniors, and two teachers. The thing is though, that my school is especially great because everyone knows everyone, and everyone loves everyone. So this trip, where we’re going to Nepal to teach students photography, and rebuild the school, is with not just my friends, but my family.

 

How long have you been dancing?

I’ve been dancing since I could remember… I believe I started with ballet at the age of 5. I remember because my teacher was named Ms. Storme, and I always thought it was the best name. Then like a year or two later, I started modern dance, as well. 

 

 Emma in Modern Class in December 2015

Emma in Modern Class in December 2015

How often do you train?

I train once a week, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., whenever I tell people that, they look at my like I’m crazy, but it’s the only time I can do what I love, so why wouldn’t I, ya know?

 

What kind of dance classes do you take?

Start my Saturday mornings with ballet, then we move into pointe variations. After that, modern dance, and finally, I end mySaturday afternoons with student choreography, which I just finished my solo (more or less), so I’m very excited.

 

Are you studying dance this summer? Where? Why did you choose this program?

I probably won’t get to dance this summer, sadly. Might be able to squeeze it in, but my mom thinks that summer should be a break… little does she know I don’t need to be in dance class to dance.

 

 Emma in Ballet Class in December 2015

Emma in Ballet Class in December 2015

What has dance taught you that you have applied to other aspects of your life?

Dance has definitely taught me to listen to feedback, to take something from another person, and apply it to better myself. It’s also taught me patience, to the extent that I know nothing will happen at the snap of my fingers, I just need to wait a bit, for it to sink in. 

 

What professional dance performances have you seen this year?

Oh my, I’ve gone to see more Martha Graham performances than I can even count. My mother is friends with just about everyone, so of course she knows the director of the company, and of course she can get a ticket at the snap of her fingers, so what dancer would refuse free tickets, right? One of my favorite things I’ve done this year was a private session with photography, and the dance company. We were at the studio, where they practice, and we were allowed to take as many photos as we wanted, of the flow of the skirts, or the rigidness of the movement.

I also went to ABT’s opening night, on October 21- my birthday. My parents and I went for a night out on the town, together, and saw three incredible pieces- the whole time i would just evaluate whether or not I could do this move, or that solo, and so on and so forth.

 

 Emma in Erin's Company Piece for Creative Arts Studio Dance Company in May 2015. Photo by Ebbe Sweet

Emma in Erin's Company Piece for Creative Arts Studio Dance Company in May 2015. Photo by Ebbe Sweet

What have been your favorite dance moments this year? (One from a seat in the audience, as a dancer/student/performer?)

Well, I already told you about my favorite experience in the seat.

But my favorite moment I’ve had as a student was to feel my improvement. To visually see that my quads were stronger than they’ve ever been- or to keep my leg above 90 degrees, for more than two seconds. To be able to kick my leg to my face on pointe, just like in the videos. 

Yet, speaking just as a dance appreciator, the best moment, was by far the first day of the choreography class. The blank canvas, of my mind, empty, as I listen to songs on repeat. The utter respect I gained from that day, the appreciation I have for Erin, to come up with not only choreography, but the coolest choreography I’ve ever learned, and I’ve learned a lot, is just priceless. So thank you Erin!

 

May 2015

ROSE

 Rose in Kate Digby's rehearsal for "Here/Waiting" which is the first annual e.g.dance Repertory Performance Project and will culminate in performance on Sunday, May 31.

Rose in Kate Digby's rehearsal for "Here/Waiting" which is the first annual e.g.dance Repertory Performance Project and will culminate in performance on Sunday, May 31.

Aside from dancing, what else are your passions or hobbies? Tell us more - favorite books, subjects, pets, places you've traveled, etc.

I haven't explored many other activities besides dance but there are many things that I would like to explore as I get older and start High School such as art, theater, possibly some type of writing class, photography, and possibly some kind of sports. I'm also very fortunate because my High School (Edward R. Murrow High School) offers many extra-curricular avtivities so I'm definetely going to explore those options. My family loves to travel so I have been very lucky to be able to see many different countries and cultures growing up.

How long have you been dancing?

I have been dancing consistently for six years with Erin Gottwald, first at Spoke the Hub, now at e.g.dance! I also dance at my Middle School (M.S. 51) with Julie Gibson, in my regular talent classes as well as the dance company there. On Wednesdays I take a modern repertory class with Kate Digby.

 Rose (center) in Monday Pointe and Variations class.

Rose (center) in Monday Pointe and Variations class.

How often do you train?

I train at least four times a week in all, eight and a half hours.

What kind of dance classes do you take?

With Erin, I take ballet twice a week. At school I take all kinds of dance but recently we've been focusing on modern/jazz style and Fosse style. I take one modern class a week.

Are you studying dance this summer? Where? Why did you choose that program?

This summer, I'm not doing dance specifically but I am doing a musical, The Music Man, with Piper Theater Camp in Brooklyn. I chose this to expand my horizons of theater and although I'm not a very good singer- I wouldn't even consider myself a decent singer- I love this musical and I really want to try some acting. I would have tried out for the regular play but I've never done this camp and I was told the play was for very serious actors and I'm not there yet.

What has dance taught you that you have applied to other aspects of your life?

Dance has definitely taught me and helped me to work as a team and trust/rely on people in a way that I haven't really done before dance.

 Rose with Erin and classmates at Doug Varone and Dancers at the Joyce Theater in December 2014.

Rose with Erin and classmates at Doug Varone and Dancers at the Joyce Theater in December 2014.

What dance professional dance performances have you seen this year?

This year I went to a Doug Varone and Dancers at the Joyce theater in December, which I really enjoyed. I also saw Doug Elkins at the Joyce Theater in January. In January, I also saw the musicals Kinky Boots and Chicago on Broadway.

What have been your favorite dance moment this year? (One from a seat in the audience, one as a dancer/student/performer?)

This year, my favorite dance moment as an audience member I think has been Kinky Boots because it was so exciting and entertaining and the singing and dancing was amazing. Although I haven't performed much this year so far (I have two dance performances coming up), I think my favorite dance moment as a performer has been performing at P.S 29 because, although any performance is exciting, dancing in front of elementary school kids hopefully makes them appreciate dance and inspires them to try/pursue it or anything else they might feel passionate about. I remember in elementary school, I had reading buddies. And even though they were just reading to us, they inspired me and made me want to be like them. Now, as I get older and start to develop my own style, interests, likes and dislikes, or anything else, I look up to people, dancers, singers, actors, business women, someone I see on the street, anyone who catches my eye and gives me a motivation to do what I'm passionate about or to be who I aspire to be, I find an "idol" or role model in them. And if I can be like that to someone, young, old, girl, boy, and inspire them through dance, that means a lot to me.

 

April 2015

AVA

 Ava rehearsing "Who's Got the Pain?" from  Damn Yankees  in e.g.dance Jazz Class.

Ava rehearsing "Who's Got the Pain?" from Damn Yankees in e.g.dance Jazz Class.

Aside from dancing, what else are your passions or hobbies? Tell us more - favorite books, subjects, pets, places you've traveled, etc.

I love to act and sing. I am really into musical theater. I am in the theater program at my school and have been in a few plays and musicals. I also love to sing. I have never had any training but I play my ukulele and learn songs all the time. Sometimes I feel like I have too many interests because there is not enough time to do them all. I also love writing and reading. I have a collection of fiction short stories piled up that I've never done anything with. Like I said I love music and instruments. I am in the a cappella club at my school which is very fun. I like astronomy and that is my second choice if the whole performer thing doesn't work out.

How long have you been dancing?

I have been dancing for around ten years. I have varied on the amount of classes I take for certain periods of time but I have always been consistently going to at least one dance class but usually more.

 Ava with fellow e.g.dance students

Ava with fellow e.g.dance students

How often do you train?

Right now I am taking four classes a week because I have a lot of missed classes to make up but earlier this year I was taking 2-3 classes a week. I also have mandatory dance in school because I am in the theater program and next year I am going to start taking dance before school and going into the first period every day so that will be almost 9 more hours a week which will be great.

What kind of dance classes do you take?

The four classes I am currently taking are modern, ballet, and jazz (two modern classes). I have been studying modern from the beginning, ballet since I was five, and I started jazz a couple of years ago. I think I love jazz the most because it fits in with my musical theater passion and it comes more naturally to me than any of the other styles. That being said I also love modern and I have put the majority of my dancing work into modern so I love that too. Ballet I like but I am not motivated to continue in it. I think It is good to build strength for my other classes and is a basic skill in any dancer's toolbox but I don't love performing it or even practicing it the way that I love jazz and modern.

Are you studying dance this summer? Where? Why did you choose that program?

 Ava in performance in 2012.

Ava in performance in 2012.

 Ava creating phrasework in Modern class

Ava creating phrasework in Modern class

I don't think that I will be taking any classes over the summer, however I am going to circus camp which is so much fun. Circus is a lot like dance in it's presentation and strength. I went to this camp last year and absolutely fell in love with it. It offers so many wonderful activities and everyone there is hilarious and interesting and super fun. You take classes of each “genre” and then towards the end we put together a show. The “genres” are aerials, juggling, acrobatics, and clowning. Within those I learned the silks, lyra, trapeze, juggling, diablo, spanish web, trampolining, human pyramids, improvisation, the devil sticks, chinese pole, globe walking, tumbling, and tons of other stuff. It was crazy that I had all those utilities at my disposal and had professionals to teach me. I am also really glad that I went because we had a mandatory morning run, morning warm-ups, afternoon conditioning, afternoon activities(mostly running games), and all the classes were exhausting. It sounds like boot camp but it is better than sleeping until 12 and then spending the rest of the day in bed which is what I would do if I didn't go. The whole experience was very similar to dancing in the way it is taught and performed. My teacher in ballet always talks about presentation and how even if your muscles are screaming on the inside your have to smile on the outside. After having learned the basics of all the different acts I realize how hard it is. The morning after the first day was the sorest I have ever been in my life. Those performances require an unbelievable amount of strength and physical exertion. During the camp we went to see the actual circus and I was even more amazed because I knew how hard it was and I have so much respect for the people that put in that work to create something spectacular and beautiful. So although I am not dancing this summer I am still working on my strength, stamina, presentation, gracefulness and all the aspects of dance through my circus camp.

What has dance taught you that you have applied to other aspects of your life?

Reflecting on how dance has impacted my life I realized that I learned almost everything form dance. I learned of course how to sit straight and align my bones and do a pirouette but it's so much more than that. Growing up and going to dance class gave me the opportunity to work with others for the first time and understand the teacher student relationship before I even went to school. I learned how to collaborate with others and to mimic. I learned how to take specific direction and it has disciplined me. I learned how to commit to yourself and to others and to keep that. Most of all I learned how to be dedicated and work hard and it showed me that putting in the effort really does have results. Looking back most of the things I learned from dancing weren't even physical which is my opinion is wonderful.

What dance professional dance performances have you seen this year?

 Ava with fellow e.g.dance students at American Dance Machine at The Joyce Theater - Fall 2014.

Ava with fellow e.g.dance students at American Dance Machine at The Joyce Theater - Fall 2014.

I can't remember everything but the first few that come into my head was the ballet of Cinderella at BAM, American Dance Machine, and a circus performance that had many elements of dance in it. In the circus performance there was lyra and silks but there was one act where it was just three men and one women in plain workout clothes and a mat doing the most unbelievable things. They would throw each other across the stage and jump over each other while they were standing and all sort of insane stuff. But they were so in sync with each other and when they made contact they were so certain and strong and it was honestly magical to watch.

What have been your favorite dance moment this year? (One from a seat in the audience, one as a dancer/student/performer?
This is sort of a random time but recently my teacher, Erin, gave us an exercise in the beginning of class where one person would piggyback on another but they had to get up and down in a strange, nonconventional way. Also while they were up there they were to move around and use the lifter as a base and the lifter would just respond and support. For some reason I loved this exercise. I did it two times and the second time I was with my friend Mimi who I have been in dance class with for almost as long as I have taken dance. And while we were doing this it was a strange sensation that we were the same person. I can't describe it very well but we moving very slowly and laughing at our awkwardness and it felt really natural and beautiful and that's what I love about dance. The feeling you get when you are moving and you feel comfortable and happy.

 

 

April 2015

Tori

 Tori in modern class, July 2014.

Tori in modern class, July 2014.

Aside from dancing, what else are your passions or hobbies? Tell us more - favorite books, subjects, pets, places you've traveled, etc

While dancing is definitely a huge part of my life, there are many other activities I enjoy, and often wish I had more time for. I have a very strong passion for all art forms. I love visual art and am in advanced art class at my high school, Beacon. Visual art provides another fantastic creative outlet, and can express the same emotions and ideas that dance can. I love my sketchbook and try to carry it everywhere. It is messy and free and exciting and represents who I am as a person and an artist. I also love poetry for the same reasons I am drawn to both dance and art. They all challenge me to convey passions, beliefs and stories in their own unique ways.

I am very passionate about social justice. There is so much pain in the world, and so much disparity that angers me. For a long time I have struggled with knowing how I can use my art for justice, and there is not a simple, one word answer— and that’s where art comes in. Although I still don’t know exactly how my own choreography, drawings, or poetry will inspire social change, recently I have seen example in and been inspired by a few dance companies. Gallim is a huge inspiration in my life, not just as a dance career goal (as they are all incredible and beautiful), but Andrea Miller’s work has so much passion and meaning. Nothing is arbitrary. Nothing is meant to just be pretty. Each of her works provokes thought and questions society. I have recently been given the incredible opportunity to work with them and learn their piece Wonderland. It is about mob mentality with imagery drawn from WWII. It is beautiful and terrifying and so successfully conveys meaning. Right now I have the opportunity to work with Kyle Abraham. His work also has clear and direct meaning that makes the audience think. We are working on his work Pavement that is about violence in black communities. He creates this work so powerfully and beautifully. Both Gallim and Abraham have shown me how dance can be used for justice.

 Tori and Ali creating a duet in composition class.

Tori and Ali creating a duet in composition class.

How long have you been dancing?

I have been dancing since I was ten years old. It’s a funny story actually. Many people start ballet when they’re three, just because it’s cute and fun I guess. But I was terrified and shy and cried through the few classes I took when I was five. So that halted dance in my life for a good five years. Then when I was in fifth grade my mom won a silent auction at my elementary school because no one was bidding on a Spoke the Hub ballet class. She put down the asking price, just because— and won. The age for the class was younger than me, so it was for my sister, Ali. But Ali was into sports and didn’t want to go AT ALL. My mom almost gave it away. But my dad convinced Ali to go by telling her that football players take ballet. I guess she liked it, and I liked what I saw, because after that I joined Erin’s modern class and the rest is history!

How often do you train? What classes do you take?

 Tori in Modern Technique and Improv class.

Tori in Modern Technique and Improv class.

I take class Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and all day Saturday. I take classes in gaga technique, ballet technique, modern technique and have rehearsals with resident companies. I have ballet three times a week, with a little bit of pointe. And about 7 hours of rehearsal a week. My friends thinks its crazy— they always ask why? And how do you get your work done? And how do you do it? I think the only answer is how could I not do it.

Are you studying dance this summer? Where? Why did you choose that program?

I am studying at Peridance for three weeks in July. I chose this program because it offers rigorous training in ballet technique and strengthening, as well as modern and other elective classes. I have college auditions in the fall and wanted a program that would prepare me. I also plan to do Gallim’s summer intensive which is one week at the end of July. I chose this one because I am absolutely in love with them and hope to dance with them some day. Then in August I will be participating in Dancewave’s advanced intensives with Shen Wei and Stephanie Batten Bland, as well as taking ballet and modern in their SDI program. And for the final week of the summer I am taking modern and ballet class with Erin. So I have finally reached my goal! Dancing for every single week of the summer!

What has dance taught you that you have applied to other aspects of your life?

 Tori and fellow e.g.dance students creating a quartet.

Tori and fellow e.g.dance students creating a quartet.

Dance has taught me discipline, confidence, creativity, freedom, and collaboration. It has taught me to be strong, unique, open, honest, positive, ambitious, responsible, and the list goes on! Dancers are incredibly well rounded people because dance teaches so much. Every single thing I have learned from dance I can use in “the real world”.

What professional dance performances have you seen this year? 

I have seen Camille Brown, Gallim, Ballet Next, Netherlands Dans Theatre, Pilobolus, and Hofesh Shechter. Each was so unique and inspiring in its own way. My favorite was Gallim. (See a pattern?)

 Tori with fellow e.g.dance students at one of our performance field trips - this one to see Pilobolus perform at the Joyce.

Tori with fellow e.g.dance students at one of our performance field trips - this one to see Pilobolus perform at the Joyce.

What has been your favorite dance moment this year? (One from a seat in the audience, one as a dancer/student/performer?

My favorite moment this year was when we performed Wonderland for the first time. The version we did is 15 minutes long—the longest dance I’ve done. At the halfway point, you think you’ll throw up, at the three quarter mark, you think you might die. And then you get your second wind. The first time I experienced this second wind was during this premier performance. It was a burst of adrenalin and everything suddenly became easy again. I felt the energy in the entire room increase. When we finished the piece I knew that it was by far the best we’d ever run it. Some Gallim dancers were even in the audience to see it! And when they stood to clap, it felt amazing.

Anything else you'd like to share?

I had the opportunity to dance backup for St. Vincent on Jimmy Fallon recently. It was an incredible experience. We rehearsed for a few hours over a weekend and then performed on TV that Monday night. It all happened so quickly, and we had to be precise and perfect. It was an experience like no other. I got a feel for commercial dance, something so different from concert dance, but still super fun. St. Vincent was nice and encouraging and has an inspiring love for her art. The choreographer, Annie B. Parson, was also incredible and amazing to work with. It was an exhilarating learning experience and I would definitely do it again    

 

 

April 2015

Ella

 Ella in rehearsal with choreographer Kate Digby in e.g.dance's Repertory Performance Project (RPP) in 2015.

Ella in rehearsal with choreographer Kate Digby in e.g.dance's Repertory Performance Project (RPP) in 2015.

Aside from dancing, what else are your passions or hobbies? Tell us more - favorite books, subjects, pets, places you've traveled, etc
Aside from dancing, my hobbies are reading, traveling and history. I have many favorite books, including The Great Gatsby, Thirteen Moons, Jane Eyre, and (recently) The Sea, The Sea. I love to write essays, especially literary essays and argumentative pieces. Fiction is not my preferred writing style, but I really enjoy reading short stories and novels. One of my favorite places to travel is Italy. I have been to Venice, Rome, Orvieto, the country in Tuscany, and the Amalfi Coast. I have also been to Mexico, Costa Rica, Belize, Iceland, Switzerland and most recently, Scotland. I am fascinated with history, especially that of the classical age, like Greek and Roman culture, Egyptian history and the Byzantine Empire. I am extremely interested in mythology and iconography, especially Greek mythology.

 Ella with fellow e.g.dance students at Lincoln Center to see New York City Ballet in May 2014.

Ella with fellow e.g.dance students at Lincoln Center to see New York City Ballet in May 2014.

How long have you been dancing?
I have been dancing since first grade, about nine years.  

How often do you train?
I take class every day of the week except for Tuesdays and Sundays. Over all I dance almost 10 hours a week. 

What kind of dance classes do you take?
I take ballet technique, pointe and repertoire classes on Mondays, I am in rehearsals for Kate Digby's Here/Waiting on Wednesdays, modern technique classes on Thursdays and a company class on Fridays, and I take another ballet class on Saturday mornings.

Are you studying dance this summer? Where? Why did you choose that program?
This summer I am dancing at the Bates College Young Artists Workshop program. I chose this program because it seemed like it had an amazing community and provided me with an incredible way to grow professionally. I will be able to chose the teachers I want to work with and I look forward to the three weeks I will spend there. I am very excited to be able to dance all day, (I love dancing in the morning) and I think that living on the campus itself will be a great chance for me to immerse myself completely in the experience.

 Ella and Ali in rehearsal at e.g.dance Summer Dance Intensive 2014.

Ella and Ali in rehearsal at e.g.dance Summer Dance Intensive 2014.

What has dance taught you that you have applied to other aspects of your life?
Dance has taught me patience and dedication, both of which I regularly apply to life outside of class. These values, primarily patience, are very useful - especially with stress. The patience I've learned has helped me with my high school transition, back injury, and any other stressful thing i've encountered over the past couple of years. 

What dance professional dance performances have you seen this year? 
This year I have been to several performances. I went to see the Netherland Dans Theater 2 at the Joyce Theater, and I saw the NYCB Romeo and Juliet. I also saw the Trisha Brown company at the Bard College Fisher Center. 

What have been your favorite dance moment this year? (One from a seat in the audience, one as a dancer/student/performer?)
My favorite dance moment this year from the audience was at the NDT 2 performance. They were all extremely talented and very full of energy, and it was an incredible performance.