Jump Into Contemporary With Teddy

Young dancers in bright-colored booty shorts and tops with glitzy team jackets on were a welcoming sight at the 2011 JUMP Convention which took place this past weekend at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Dallas.

It has been years since my last dance convention and I was just as excited and anxious as minis and juniors. Questions like “Do I still have it?” and “Can I keep up with the rest of these youngsters?” fluttered through my head as I checked out the dancers warming up around me in the senior room. (Being a teacher I had the option of taking class in the teacher room or the senior room and being the crazy person I am I went for the senior room first.)

There are many great teachers at JUMP don’t get me wrong, but it was Teddy Forance who truly inspired me. He started his senior contemporary class with improv and immediately my nerves went away. You really can’t think about anything while your improving; and if you are then you’re not fully committed to the exercise. I was in awe of Teddy’s ability to move so organically. Unlike most teachers, Teddy didn’t come to class with a prepared routine for us to swallow and regurgitate. Instead, he asked us give him the first movement and the rest of the combination just seemed to come naturally.

His class in the teacher room was just as eye-opening. We worked on more improving exercises such as room writing and space hold (terms I have never heard before) and discussed how these exercises can inspire dancers to find new movement vocabulary. Room writing involves finding a shape in the room (lights, pictures, floor design) and mimicking those shapes with different parts of your body. (I got some serious floor burn from this exercise.) When a dancer keeps her right arm extended and continues to move around it without changing the arms place in space is called a space hold.  It’s harder than it looks, but once you get going its amazing what you can do.

Teddy also recommends changing the music you use during improv to help students with their transitions. He says to play with ballet/jazz and hip hop music to help get students comfortable with melting and releasing their movement. “It’s like creating your own roller coaster,” Teddy says. “That’s what choreography means in my mind.”

I fully intend to use these techniques in my contemporary classes or heck any dance class. I will let you know how it turns out.

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