Archive for hahakseth@gmail.com

Dance To Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal Edition

 

We’ll be dancing to Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal in my Jazz Dance class on Wednesday, September 7th!

Smooth Criminal

 

What: Dancing to Michael Jackson

Date: Wednesday, September 7th

Time: 7:45pm-8:45pm

Place: Kanopy Dance Studio (341 State St – enter between The Gap & Ragstock)

Cost: $5.00

We will do a warm-up and stretch a bit, and then learn some iconic choreography to “Smooth Criminal”. No registration required. Just show up and dance!

Open to adults and teens who love to dance, love Michael Jackson, love “Smooth Criminal,” love to have fun, or any combination thereof.  No prior dance experience required.

Come dressed to move and no shoes worn off the street allowed on the dance floor (bring clean soled shoes or dance in your socks). There are changing rooms, restrooms and drinking fountains in the studio if you need them.

We will dance in Studio 2. Kanopy Dance has 3 studios and you may need to walk through someone else’s class to get to our class. Don’t worry about it – everyone is used to it. Just try not to be too disruptive. When you get to the top of the stairs, you will be in Studio 1. Remove your shoes and leave them on the shoe rack. Directly in front of you is a door into Studio 2. Pull the door knob (don’t turn it, just pull) and come inside. Make sure to close the door behind you! Walk across to the side of the room with chairs. We’ll start as soon as the class before us wraps up.

Dance Magic Dance! A Very Bowie Dance Class

We’ll be paying tribute to David Bowie in my Broadway Jazz Dance class on Wednesday, January 20th. Come dance a magic dance from Labyrinth with me!

dance magic dance

What: Dancing to David Bowie

Date: Wednesday, January 20th

Time: 6:00pm-7:00pm

Place: Kanopy Dance Studio (341 State St – enter between The Gap & Ragstock)

Cost: $5.00

 

Open to adults and teens who love to dance, love David Bowie, love the film “Labyrinth,” love to have fun or any combination thereof.  No prior dance experience required. Come dressed to move and no shoes worn off the street allowed on the dance floor (bring clean soled shoes or dance in socks/barefoot).

We will do a warm up and stretch a bit, and then learn some choreography to “Magic Dance” from Labyrinth. No registration required. Just show up and dance!

Unlimited Dance Pass – December Only!

chance_to_dance-2674

 

Friends, it is December. You have exactly 1 month to actually do the New Year’s resolutions you’ve been procrastinating on since last January.

AHHHH! Panic!!!!

No, don’t panic. Start dancing now and finish the year on a high note!

Right now, you can purchase a December Unlimited Pass for $50.00. The pass entitles you to all of my Tuesday Ballet (7pm) and Wednesday Broadway Jazz (6pm) classes for the entire month!

Pick the “Unlimited December” from the Paypal drop-down menu:
Payment Options


NOTE: Pass is valid December 1st – January 6th (no classes December 23rd).

Better Version of Me

Brian Cunningham Returns to Madison, Oct. 4th!

Exciting News! Irish sean-nós dancer Brian Cunningham is returning to Madison to give a dance workshop!

Brian Cunningham

Brian Cunningham

Brian dances in a loose Connemara style that is traditional and very exciting at the same time. The workshop is appropriate for all levels, including beginners with no prior experience.

What:   Sean-nós dance workshop with Brian Cunningham
When:  Saturday, October 4th, 2014
Time:   4:15pm – 6:15pm
Where: Express Yourself – 401 N. Lake St., Madison, WI
Who:    Anyone ages 12 and up.
Cost:   $20.00
RSVP: Reserve your spot by emailing Heidi Hakseth at hahakseth@gmail.com.

Brian is an internationally renown Irish sean-nós (or old style) step dancer who has done much to ignite a sean-nós dance revival. Brian began dancing at age 15. In the short time since then, he has become a 3-time winner of the Oireachtas na Samhna, 2-time winner of the Colin Shean Dara jig competition, and has performed in, choreographed and produced numerous shows. He’s even created a film, In the Blood, about the Cunningham family and their passion for preserving and promoting sean-nós dance (available for sale here). Most recently, Brian toured the United States in Atlantic Steps


While in Madison for Atlantic Steps, Brian was kind enough to teach us some sean-nós dancing last March. If you were there, you remember how much fun we had getting the steps and stories from Brian. If you are into Irish dance, tap dance, clogging or anything else where you get to make noise with your feet, sean-nós dance is right up your alley. You do not need prior dance experience to attend Brian’s workshop.

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Sean-nós workshop with Brian Cunningham & Kieran Jordan, March 2014

 

To learn more about Brian, please see his new website http://www.cunninghamdance.com

This workshop is made possible through the generous support of the Celtic Cultural Center of Madison, WI.

 

Ceili Time!

I’m super excited that there is going to be an Irish Fest in Madison this year. If it goes well, this could become an annual event so fingers are crossed. All are welcome to come down to the UW Memorial Union Terrace on Saturday, August 23rd, to do some ceili dancing at 4:30pm. Capital Ceili Band will be providing the music and they are great.

Haven’t danced before? That’s okay. I’ll be teaching all the dances. Don’t have a partner? That’s okay too! Oh, and this event is Free!

Download (PDF, Unknown)

My Irish Hard Shoe Dancers!

One of the studios where I teach hosted a recital this week. My adult Irish hard shoe students did a bang-up job (pun entirely intended). I don’t think I could be more proud of how far they progressed this semester. Some in the class had tap dance experience, or had done some Irish dance in the past. Others were only in their first or second semester of Irish dance ever, and yet they were able to pull this routine together nicely. They really are good.

Irish Sean-nós Dance Workshop with Kieran Jordan and Brian Cunningham!

 Irish Sean-nós Dance Workshop

With the creators of Atlantic Steps!

 

 Atlantic Steps

 

What: Irish sean-nós dance workshop with Kieran Jordan and Brian Cunningham

When: Thursday, March 20, 2014

Time: 6-7pm Beginners; 7-8pm Continuing or Experienced Dancers

Where: Express Yourself Madison (401 N Lake St, Lower Level)

Cost: $15 for 1 hour; $20 for both hours

Who: Dancers of all levels and styles who want to try this fun and exciting dance form.

Registration: Please EMAIL to reserve your spot – hahakseth@gmail.com. Payment will be collected at the workshop.

 

Kieran Jordan and Brian Cunningham, Co-Directors of Atlantic Steps, are coming to Madison! And they’re going to teach us some sean-nós dance!  Ms. Jordan is a well-respected dancer, choreographer and teacher, and we are honored to have her. Mr. Cunningham will be familiar to Milwaukee Irish Fest attendees where he has taught classes and delighted audiences with his sean-nós dance performances for many years. Click on their names to read more about these incredible dancers.

What the heck is sean-nós dance? Sean-nós literally translates to “old style.” It is akin to clogging, tap dancing, and is the forerunner of modern Irish dance. It’s fast and exciting, but far less rigid than the modern stuff. Here, check out this video of the Atlantic Steps show: http://vimeo.com/69823191

 

This event is made possible through the support of the Madison Celtic Cultural Center (http://www.celticmadison.org).

 

*Get your tickets for Atlantic Steps coming to the Overture Center March 21st! For more show info and some great dance clips: http://www.atlanticsteps.com/

Do You Have a Plum?

In teaching ballet to adults, I don’t expect the new beginners to know any terminology or basic concepts. They are, after all, new. However, I am surprised with the former dancers who are not even a little bit familiar with them. I chalk this up to the American dance studio style of teaching ballet, which has a lot of demonstration and individual correction, but not much explanation of the concepts behind the dance. One of most important concepts (if not THE most important) is aplomb. Are you dancing with aplomb?

This is a plum.

This is a plum.

When I say this to my students they smile uncomfortably and blink at at me. I’m fairly certain they think I’m talking about a plum.

In English, we are most familiar with the word aplomb meaning to have confidence, composure or self-assurance. Certainly ballet dancers need that. But that’s pretty vague. How do you teach self-assurance? And that’s not really what we’re getting at when we talk about aplomb in ballet anyway.

It’s not?!

ballet-alignment-2Nope. Because ballet terminology isn’t English. It’s French! And aplomb comes from the Middle French “a plomb,” which means “perpendicularity” (merriam-webster.com). Focusing on this notion of aplomb as perpendicular is going to help you stack your anatomy correctly; instead of having to muscle your way into maintaining a pose or position you simply line it up perpendicular to the floor and gravity works for you instead of against you.

 

building-blocksThink of it this way: If you are stacking blocks and one or more of them are just a little off the center line, it’s going to be hard to keep them from tipping. But if all the blocks are lined up so that the stack is perpendicular to the floor it’s much less likely to topple.

 

Ballet First PositionThis concept applies to standing on two feet, one foot, on the ball of the foot or tips of the toes. There is a line, perpendicular to the floor, that goes from the crown of your head down your sternum and then ends up in the middle of whatever your foundation on the floor is (e.g., between your heels in 1st position, the middle of your instep standing on 1 flat foot, etc.). When you understand this concept you can self-correct a whole host of errors. You cannot sit into the hip of your supporting leg because your line will no longer be perpendicular to the floor. Your balance will improve greatly for anything that requires you to stand on one foot. That means cleaner arabesques and more solid pirouettes. Interestingly, once you start mastering finding your aplomb on one foot, it won’t really matter what your other leg or arms are doing. You will feel solid and secure in your stance, and that will give a lot more freedom to what you can do with your other limbs.

 

Male Ballet Dancers – Power AND Grace?

filipov[1]I recently got into a discussion with a student about male ballet dancers. My student said he didn’t want to pursue ballet because he didn’t particularly care for the way male ballet dancers have to dance. Now what follows is not what you’re probably expecting. The complaint was not that they are too effeminate or have to wear very tight tights or any of the things that sometimes turn boys off to ballet. In fact, it was pretty much the opposite. My student clearly has an appreciation for the athleticism and power of male ballet dance. But he seemed to be getting at the notion that choreography for male dancers lacks the grace, artistry and dare I say beauty, of the choreography put on female dancers. This got me thinking – are there male ballet dancers that we love to watch specifically when they are not doing some mega-leap, multi-turn tour de force? Or are they only good for acrobatic tricks?

Who are your favorite male ballet dancers, and why?

Of course, there’s Rudolph Nuryev (for many the greatest male dancer of the 20th century). Here he is in Swan Lake:

We have David Hallberg in Sleeping Beauty:

If you’ve ever had the privilege to see Mikhail Baryshnikov perform live, you know he is one of the most engaging and graceful dancers there is. Sadly, but perhaps not unexpectedly, the internet is full of videos of Baryshnikov at his most powerful, massive tours en l’air and entrechats where you’d think his head might hit the overhead light fixtures they’re so high. Very few videos are circulating of him doing the more subtle choreography. If you have a 3-hour long ballet, you know he wasn’t leaping for the full 180 minutes. You’re not getting a full picture of his artistry. Certainly he danced Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty same as the gentlemen above, but I have yet to find clips of him doing those slower bits.

I will give you this from Les Sylphides. Kindly fast-forward to 11:39. Baryshnikov still has some wonderful jumps, but they are done in the way a female dancer would perform them. That is, they do not go anywhere near as high as they could if he was focusing on power instead of grace.

Here is lesser-known but very talented Yosvani Ramos in Romeo and Juliet:

Here’s Frederico Bonelli in a lovely passage from Alice in Wonderland:

Easily this blog could go on and on as an endless collection of male ballet dancer videos, so I’ll stop foraging for clips now. Trying to find examples that males are not all just about jumping and nothing else has raised other questions for me. Do we under-value male dancers performances as just a bunch of jumping tricks? Ballets reflect the times in which they are written, and as such can we expect newly written ballets to have more power-house moves from females and more expressiveness from males to sort of equal out the balance?

What do you think?

Everybody Pliés

Everybody Pliés

by

Heidi Hakseth

 

Everybody Pliés.Group plie 2

Ballet dancers plié an awful lot. plie

Jazz dancers plié in a way that’s really hot.fosse

Hip hop dancers especially need plié.Beat Freaks

Even Highland dancers plié in their own special way.highland

Modern dancers plié in a way that’s deep.Deep Plie

Irish dancers plié only just a peep.Riverdance

Plie when you’re young and hale.Kids ballet

Plié when you’re old to keep from getting frail.senior ballet

You guessed it, tap dancers need to plié too.bojangles portrait 2

Everybody pliés.Group plie

And so should you!