Month: October 2011

A Hip-Hop Perspective: The Music Video

Anthony Rue II, CTFD dancer-client

Wouldn’t it be cool if Choreographers had their names listed in music videos?

I believe music videos played a huge role in bringing hip-hop to dance studios. It was hard to find a good hip-hop dance class during the 90’s and smaller studios did not offer the style at all. The music video era of dance changed everything. It sparked the minds of dancers and gave them another goal to reach beyond performance. Fans fell in love with the dancers performing beside their favorite artists.

Aaliyah's Rock The Boat
Aaliyah’s Rock The Boat, Choreography by Fatima Robinson

The same effect consumed the next generation of dancers.  The impact dance has on a music video will never go unnoticed. People love to watch dance. Dance helped some of the biggest music videos raise to a superstar status. Can you imagine Michael Jackson’s Thriller without dance? Choreography from that music video is still performed over two decades later but we do not see Choreographer Michael Peter’s name mentioned.

Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Choreography by Michael Peter

Perhaps in the future we will see choreographers’ names credited on music videos.  This change would help dancers research what styles they love and consider choreography as a career choice after performance. This listing would also promote the choreographer to the consumers and people could follow their work like film directors. Everyone would love to see their name attached to the work they choreographed.

When I started working with Laurie Ann Gibson I was shocked. This woman choreographed so many videos I was in love with! I was very lucky to have her as a mentor early in my career.  I learned so much from her about performing, music videos and the work that other choreographers created. I believe this was very important for me.  I think it’s really important to know who is responsible for the work you enjoyed, and Enjoy.

Choreographer Darrin Henson
*NSYNC’s Choreographer Darrin Henson

by Anthony Rue II

The Triumph of Will Over Ego

Story by Michael Deane, Dancer-Client

I took my first dance class in college as a lark.  At that time I had never seen a dance performance or even a Broadway show, but from the beginning I loved the physicality of it and the music (and the girls) and soon I was spending all my time in the studio, either taking or watching class.  By the time I graduated, I was determined to give dance a try. I ended up dancing for 15 years.

I got a scholarship at the Joffrey School and made my professional debut on Broadway with the Paul Taylor Company and Rudolph Nureyev in 1974.  Over the next several years I danced in the companies of May O’Donnell, Pauline Koner, Theater Dance Collection, Utah Repertory Dance Theater and the Asolo (FL) Opera, danced the original choreography of Agnes De Mille (Oklahoma), Hanya Holmes (My Fair Lady) and Peter Martins (Carousel) and worked with William Hammerstein and James Hammerstein among others.

By the time I was 35, I knew it was time to think about the second half of my life.  I received money from what was then called the Dancers in Transition program and took courses at NYU in Construction Management, started working at a cabinet shop, and then enrolled in Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Today, 25 years later, I am the Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer at Turner Construction Company.

During my time of transition I often struggled with feelings of failure, loss and confusion.  But over time, I used the discipline, creativity, ability to focus and persevere against long odds that I learned as a dancer and applied it to learning a new skill set. I have now spent more time in the construction business than I spent dancing but I don’t believe I could be where I am today without the training and experience I got from dance.

Today I still try to take class most Saturdays with my wife and sometimes my 3 daughters. I think of it as “the triumph of will over ego” – which might be a good way of thinking about career transition – the odds are great, the work is hard, it’s sometimes embarrassing and confusing and you don’t know if you will succeed.  But change is inevitable and the rewards are worth it.  And if you can make it as a dancer you can do anything you set your mind to.  Remember – “Just keep smiling and keep moving.”