SR PC Travels to Chicago for Lou Conte Master Classes

 

A nip of frost and the rosy fingers of dawn welcomed us as we embarked on a 15-hr day of dance, discovery and bonding:

 

Recently, seventeen members of the Sr. Performing Company participated in multiple dance classes at Lou Conte Dance Studio, the training facility for the prestigious modern dance company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. The bustling windy city welcomed us with warm and inviting teachers who made our experience fun, educational and memorable.

 

The students divided into many levels and genre, including modern, ballet, tap, musical theatre and even African dance. The Nigerian instructor teaching the African dance class even payed his own accompaniment on a djembe drum! Senior Elsa Gaston took the class because African styles are among her favorite methods of movement, but this specifically Nigerian content was a first for her. It was extremely physical but his friendly and educational approach kept the class motivated for more.

 

Madisyn Challis exploded out of her tap class exclaiming, “That was the best class ever!” She and other dancers commented on the encouraging demeanor of their teacher and felt they had accomplished considerable growth during their class. I appreciated the communal approach by working primarily in a circle to allow individuals each an opportunity to attempt perfecting her sounds, and I know our teachers at Curtain Call often use this approach as well.

 

In the modern class, Megan Dugle noted how interactive her teacher was, “He kept running to the back and sides of the room, giving personal attention to every dancer. He was so engaging!” Much of their warm up and combo repeated to all four walls, and emphasized the internal focus of modern where often there is no “front” of the room, as in jazz (for example), in which it is primarily intended to “entertain, from a frontal perspective.”

 

Regarding jazz, nearly all the students participated in a jazz class at Lou Conte and I was pleased to observe the classic and pure form of jazz foundations presented: complicated weight change, unexpected direction change, and traditional stylization – all set to jazz music. The same teacher instructed the musical theatre class with a similar approach, infusing quite a bit of Fosse-esque isolations and style.

 

Sydney Androne’s favorite class was ballet. As I observed class through the window I had feelings of empathy and even a little concern for the students, as the barre exercises began and continued with very challenging patterns, stability development and strengthening exercises that had them all shaking with effort and dripping with sweat after only a about 10-15 minutes! When I asked Sydney more about the class, she brightly replied, “I loved it! The challenge was amazing and the teacher was very thorough and helpful in her instruction.”

 

Although the day was long and our dancers left Chicago exhausted and sore, they were ready for more and were immediately asking me, “When are we going back?” This relatively easy drive made taking continuing education classes accessible and I know we’ll be back to Lou Conte soon!

 

  • Miss Michelle

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