Dance conventions are on fire right now for competition and non-competition dancers. The appeal and incentives for attending a dance convention are becoming increasingly higher in value, and the exposure to various styles and teachers is incomparable.
I did not grow up as a “competition kid”, but even when I was growing up, there were only a select few conventions to speak of. Young dancers now are so lucky to be able to attend one event, in a single, safe location, and take class from four to five highly-skilled, and basically famous, dance choreographers and teachers.
Here is my list of the 12 hottest convention teachers right now, in no particular order, all of whom I wish I could have taken class from when I was growing up!
1. Laurie Johnson from Tremaine Dance Conventions – Laurie recently won the Industry Dance Award for “Favorite Convention Teacher”. Upon winning this prestigious award Laurie said, “Making a living through self-expression is the ultimate reward. I was grateful to be acknowledged and honored to be in the company of my fellow nominees. We are all unique, unrepeatable, unlimited and unflawed beings. It’s nice to receive attention. A majority of my life is an inside game: being courageous, moving past conformity and mediocrity, and evolving into my highest expression. The motivation comes from doing what I love. The win is giving back to others in gratitude of the gift for which I have been given. Winning the IDA was a beautiful bonus. Finally, it’s no accident that for two consecutive years, Tremaine teachers have won ‘Favorite Convention Teacher’. Joe Tremaine continually instills in us our responsibility as teachers, on and off the dance floor. He leads, we follow, and all is right in the world.”
2. DJ Smart (Freelusion, America’s Got Talent) from Celebrity Dance Competitions – Celebrity Director Andrew Phillip says, “The entire Celebrity Team is excited to have DJ Smart on tour this fall with Celebrity Conventions. His athleticism, performance quality and technique will be an inspiration for all dancers at Celebrity. He will be teaching lyrical, jazz and contemporary…get excited!”
3. Matt Lopez from Groove National Dance Competition – Annette Payne, regional director from Groove, says, “Matt’s classes are always so fun, energetic and engaging to the entire room. Even the spectators have a fun time in his class! Matt does a wonderful job teaching all age groups, and his choreography is always extremely modern and so different than any hip hop classes we have ever seen.”
4. David Moore from Camp PULSE – Nancy O’Meara, Camp PULSE artistic director, says, “Camp PULSE fam, we should really acknowledge my pal David Moore and all of his accomplishments. I’m so proud of his career…Girl Meets World, Becky G’s newest video, all of his incredible YouTube videos. He’s the best. I’m so excited to see him this year on Camp PULSE. Everyone should watch out for this guy. Oh, and watch yourself, he always has a camera…”
5. Tara-Jean Popowich (winner of So You Think You Can Dance – Canada Season 2) from Turn It Up Dance Challenge – Lora Bertoldi, vice president/convention director, says, “Tara-Jean is our hottest master teacher! She knows how to connect with the dancers like no other, and it has been said by many parents at our conventions that ‘she changes lives!’ She has an upbeat personality and is a free spirit. TJ is a wealth of knowledge and always has something new to share with our dancers. Her classes are always a memorable experience, and dancers leave feeling different than when they entered the room!”
6. Andrew Winghart from JUMP – When asked about teaching for JUMP, Winghart says, “My dream growing up was to be a convention teacher. I was so jealous of how cool they were. I remember when I was 15 and I took a Travis Wall class and we did this combo, and I was like, ‘This is the coolest thing I have ever seen in my whole life, I didn’t think people could move like this, or there was music like this’, and I remember those memories very vividly. So, I hope to have an impact like that on dancers today.” Read more on why I think Winghart is definitely a must-take-class at conventions here.
7. Ade Obayomi from WILD Dance Intensive, PowerPak, and Celebrity Dance Competitions – Kacy Combs, national director, says, “There are plenty of convention teachers on the circuit today, but it takes a special one to get the kids excited and motivated to improve each and every class. Ade Obayomi is one of those teachers. He has a blast, inspires and truly teaches the dancers.”
8. DJ Guthrie from LA Dance Magic – “DJ stands on the convention stage and shares every piece of information, experience and dream that he has ever had,” states Owner/Director Jackie Sleight. “Every dancer who crosses his path is inspired in some way, whether by his kindness, or his bold, daring and definitive manner. DJ is truly an artist.”
9. Travis Cooper from BellaMoxi – “Travis teaches all over the Nashville, TN, Kentucky, Alabama and Ohio area,” says Ashleigh Keefer of BellaMoxi. “He is selling out his master classes wherever he teaches and is almost impossible to book. His personal touch of ‘human movement’ attracts all dancers and non-dancers. He brings a spiritual connection to his class. Strangers leave as family.”
10. Cyrus Spencer (SYTYCD) from Excel in Motion – “Cyrus’ Animation/Hip Hop class is always a huge draw. I think it has to do with how specialized his style is, and how few people are masters of it. We’re happy to find that most dancers take on the challenge of a new genre and surprise themselves on how well they do. Not only is it great for them to be trying new movement, but it’s inspiring to see Cyrus in person. When he performs on TV, it doesn’t do him justice as to how truly talented and unique he really is. Plus, he’s hilarious and makes for a really fun class,” states Madison Wright from Excel in Motion.
11. Meghan Sanett from Tremaine Dance Conventions – When asked about why she loves teaching at conventions, Sanett states, “I love being able to be a positive influence to this next generation of dancers. I feel like there are so many negative people who kids today are latching on to, and I just want to let them know you can achieve your goals, be a positive person, and most importantly be yourself, even if you’re different, unique or just straight up weird! I’m all about being different and making kids realize that that’s absolutely okay.” Read more on why I love Sanett here.
12. Tricia Miranda from The PULSE On Tour – PULSE Creative Director Brian Friedman says, “I am not surprised that Tricia Miranda is one of the most in demand female choreographers in the game right now. I have always been a fan of hers and believed in her talent. She is amazing at what she does, and you can feel the energy exude from the performers who do her work. It really is on another level!”
This list does not, of course, cover all of the fabulous dance conventions available to you, but if I were a young dancer today, I would make it a point to take a class from these talented artists and educators.
By Allison Gupton of Dance Informa.
Photo (top): Groove Dance Competition master instructor Matt Lopez. Photo courtesy of Groove.