Danielle Peazer, photo by David Salafia

How Dancer Danielle Peazer Created Her Own Workout Method

When commercial dancer Danielle Peazer took on an ambassadorial role with Reebok in early 2016, she didn't realize the gig would also lead to a career shift. But while traveling with and teaching workshops for the brand, the idea for DDM (Danielle's Dance Method) Collective started to take shape.


"I'm not a gym person, so when I would travel, I looked for classes to take instead. I found a lack of choices, especially in the UK, for dance-based methods. I was also seeing a very one-dimensional approach to fitness on social media," recalls the London-based dancer, who has performed for pop world heavy-hitters like Kylie Minogue and Justin Timberlake. "I was posting my own workout videos on YouTube, and between the people coming up to me after class asking where I taught and the positive messages I received online, I saw there was a real want for this."

Over the next year and a half, Peazer developed her own fitness method, combining her classical ballet training at the English National Ballet School with her professional commercial work dancing in music videos, on tour and on shows like the reality-TV series "The X Factor UK." Now 29, Peazer is in full swing, with DDM Collective pop-up classes, brand collaborations and a wellness blog.

Intended for dancers and non-dancers alike, DDM includes three key components: sculpt, cardio and style. "Sculpt focuses on more isolated movements to tone the body, whereas cardio is all about getting the heart rate up and building that stamina that all dancers have," Peazer explains. "Then, the style component is more coordinated, dance-based moves."

Ranging from hip rolls to squats executed from a classical second posi­tion, DDM is designed for every level of fitness. "I'm not teaching you how to dance," Peazer says. "But I'm breaking down what I've done into simplified steps that anyone can do."

In addition to the classes, which Peazer has hosted in the UK and plans to bring to New York City and Los Angeles, she also shares free workout videos on her YouTube channel to allow people to work out on the go worldwide. "I don't want it to be something that's stressed over," Peazer says. "I want everyone to feel like they can take class and just really enjoy it."

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Luke Isley, Courtesy Ballet West

How Do Choreographers Bring Something Fresh to Music We've Heard Over and Over?

In 2007, Oregon Ballet Theatre asked Nicolo Fonte to choreograph a ballet to Maurice Ravel's Boléro. "I said, 'No way. I'm not going near it,' " recalls Fonte. "I don't want to compete with the Béjart version, ice skaters or the movie 10. No, no, no!"

But Fonte's husband encouraged him to "just listen and get a visceral reaction." He did. And Bolero turned into one of Fonte's most requested and successful ballets.

Not all dance renditions of similar warhorse scores have worked out so well. Yet the irresistible siren song of pieces like Stravinsky's The Firebird and The Rite of Spring, as well as the perennial Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, seem too magnetic for choreographers to ignore.

And there are reasons for their popularity. Some were commissioned specifically for dance: Rite and Firebird for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes; Boléro for dance diva Ida Rubinstein's post–Ballets Russes troupe. Hypnotic rhythms (Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel) and danceable melodies (Bizet's Carmen) make a case for physical eye candy. Audience familiarity can also help box office receipts. Still, many choreographers have been sabotaged by the formidable nature and Muzak-y overuse of these iconic compositions.

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