By Laura Di Orio.
“Cross-training” is not only a term to describe a dancer going to the gym or taking Pilates in order to become better in his or her skillset. Cross-training can also be done between different genres of dance in order to make a dancer more marketable, confident and stronger. Imagine the cross-breed of a classical dancer studying Argentine Tango or a West Coast Swing dancer studying modern. The result would be a strong fusion that seems to be of high interest in today’s dance world.
In a quest to encourage dancers to cross-train in other styles, Paula Wilson, a dancer, educator and production manager, partnered with Ken Kreshtool, another dancer and educator, and created The International Partner Dance Intensive (TIPDI). The intensive will launch August 15-18, 2013, at DANY Studios in New York City, where participants will engage in three full days of noncompetitive but highly rigorous dance training, plus four nights of social dancing.
“The purpose of TIPDI is to create better all-around dancers by exposing them to a variety of styles in a conservatory-like environment,” Wilson says. “Most adult dancers take ‘open’ classes, which do not allow for the focused, structured, coherent curriculum that makes conservatory training so effective. We have designed TIPDI to replicate a conservatory experience, but in a short amount of time, for a reasonable fee. This allows adult dancers and dance enthusiasts who have limited time, due to commitments to work and family, to plunge in and participate fully.”
TIPDI, which is open to those 18 years of age and older, is designed for two groups of adult dancers – partner dancers who have never done classical dance and classical dancers who have never done partner dance. Level-divided classes will be given daily in a variety of styles, including Salsa, Argentine Tango, West Coast Swing, ballet, modern, contemporary and Afro-Haitian.
TIPDI’s ballet, modern and Afro-Haitian teachers will conduct friendly classes specially designed for dancers with a non-classical background. Similarly, the intensive’s partner dance teachers are cross-trained instructors who know exactly where classical dancers are coming from when learning lead-follow technique. The result, Wilson hopes, will be a “friendly, noncompetitive, focused environment geared toward adults.”
Both Wilson and Kreshtool come from a specific dance background – Wilson began with classical dance and Kreshtool came from partner dance – and understand the importance but occasional frustration or hesitation of cross-training.
“Dance is language,” Wilson says. “The more languages you speak, the more people with whom you can communicate. A dancer should be a dancer, in the ‘holistic’ sense. Defining yourself as a ballet dancer, or a Salsa dancer, or a jazz dancer, is limiting. Learn everything, and learn everything well.”
Wilson encourages dancers to “come stumble around” and ensures that there will be a place for everyone. The classes are level-based, looking at common strengths and weaknesses rather than an arbitrary ranking system. Participants should, however, have at least two years of training in at least one of the six dance forms. They are not expected to know everything; rather, their familiarity with one of the forms will serve as their “springboard” for all of their other classes.
“Everyone at TIPDI will be good at something and brand new at something else,” Wilson adds. “In terms of classes, everyone will be at a higher level in at least one dance form… In other words, TIPDI is designed exactly for both groups!”
Each intensive day will run from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. with three technique classes, an hour lunch break, and then an afternoon of a choice of either two more technique classes or one technique class and “Concept Lab.” Each day, there will be a different skill focus, which will be worked on across each different dance form. In “Concept Lab,” participants will be given a movement “problem” based on the focus and will then break into groups to work and receive feedback.
In the evenings, TIPDI dancers may practice what they have learned at various social dance events throughout New York City. Participants will receive either free or reduced admission at these events. While there are no conventional performances at TIPDI, it is here where dancers can put what they have learned to the test.
“Rehearsing set steps is not the same as practicing to be present to your partner, in the moment, and it is that ability that we hope to foster and/or improve in all of our participants,” Wilson says.
Wilson is extremely excited about TIPDI’s faculty, which she says includes partner dance instructors who are all at the world champion level and classical dance instructors who are some of New York City’s best.
TIPDI has partnered with a nearby hotel, which will offer rooms at a discounted rate for out-of-town participants. Many of the NY-based TIPDI participants have also offered to host those not from the area.
Wilson’s hope for TIPDI is that dancers will leave “stronger, more musical, more in tune with their partners and more adaptable.” She believes every dancer can benefit from the cross-training that TIPDI offers.
“Being able to borrow and steal from other forms when dancing anything can be incredibly fun and brings a new dimension, a freshness and excitement, to the way you move,” Wilson adds. “Additionally, understanding the fundamentals – having a solid foundation in multiple styles – makes it possible to dance just about anything, with anyone. When you can dance anything, with anyone, a whole new world of possibility opens up.”
To find out more about TIPDI or how to register, head to www.tipdi.com.
Dance Informa Exclusive: Paula Wilson, the director of The International Partner Dance Intensive, is extending a special registration discount to Dance Informa readers since the “Early Bird” deadline has already passed. If you use the promo code “TIPDIDance” when registering, you can still pay the “Early Bird” price of $185.
Photo (top): Daniela Pucci and Luis Bianchi will teach Argentine Tango during this year’s TIPDI. Photo by Laelia Milleri.