In The Studio: Kristin Sudeikis On Why She Loves Electric Dancers
If you've ever taken class with Kristin Sudeikis you know that she is as much a motivational speaker as she is a choreographer. Her approach to teaching is rooted in the idea that there should be a conversation between the dancer and all the elements that make up the dance: the music, the movement, and most importantly their connection to the other dancers in the room. Same goes for her company members when they are diving into the process of creating work.
We stepped into the studio with Sudeikis and her company to get an inside look at one of their rehearsals and chat with the dancemaker about her process:
Your energy, both when choreographing and teaching, is so electric. Do you look for people with that same energy when it comes to building your company?
There's that inexplicable quality in certain artists that just pulls you in. What's interesting about being in a class as opposed to holding an audition is one's work ethic. I truly believe how a dancer is in class is how they will be on stage, on tour, in rehearsal. And that's something I talk about a lot in class and try to teach. I like the rawness of the classroom experience and keeping my eyes open for if someone is supposed to move with us in the company. They also need to have an openness for the process. I have an idea, a very very tight clear idea and then I think of it as a conversation. What are they bringing? What am I bringing? All we have is right here and right now. We're gonna create. We're gonna stay open to what could happen.
Photo via Kristin Sudeikis Instagram
What is typically the jumping off point for you when choreographing?
A lot of the time it will be music that gives me a visceral feeling or the chills. I'm so fascinated by the chills—something that overwhelms me or overcomes me. I tend to steer away from things that are very dramatic though. That stuff kind of numbs me.
How do you continue to move forward in rehearsal when you find you've hit a roadblock?
Switch it up. First of all, I visualize not everything closing in, because that's natural, but rather everything creating space. Lift up, lift out, expand and something will drop in. If something's not working I'll play with different music or I'll focus on a different movement and use that as the jumping off point. But I don't really think of it as getting "stuck," I just see it as a sign to move in a different direction.
What happens during a performance is the product of the painstaking process of realizing an artistic vision. Whether held beforehand, afterward, offsite or online, audience discussions tend not to be so preordained, easily thrown off track without a skilled moderator at the helm.
"I'm someone who dreaded talkbacks and Q&As," admits Bill Bragin, former director of public programming at Lincoln Center. "While I was in New York, a lot of the time it was just audience members trying to show off how smart they were."
These events present a pile of difficult questions: How much do you reveal about a piece before it's shown? How can a conversation designed to hit key points feel casual and spontaneous? How do you cater to the needs of diverse attendees, from novice dancegoers to lifelong fans to scholars and critics? And how do you avoid smothering dance with language, flattening all its complexity?
If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.
The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:
Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.
We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.
I dance to encourage others. The longer I dance, the more I see that much of my real work is to speak life-giving words to my fellow artists. This is a multidimensionally grueling profession. I count it a privilege to remind my colleagues of how they are bringing beauty into the world through their craft. I recently noticed significant artistic growth in a fellow dancer, and when I verbalized what I saw, he beamed. The impact of positive feedback is deeper than we realize.