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.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
We knew that Ivo van Hove and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's production of West Side Story would challenge our preconceived notions about the show.
But a recent Vogue story gives us a taste of just how nontraditional the Broadway revival will be. Most notably, van Hove is cutting "I Feel Pretty" and the "Somewhere" ballet, condensing the show into one act to better reflect the urgency of the 48-hour plot. (The choice has been approved by the West Side Story estate, including Sondheim, who has "long been uncomfortable" with some of the "I Feel Pretty" lyrics.)
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.