This past September, a new partnership was launched between Steps on Broadway, one of the country’s premiere dance centers, and American Dance Machine for the 21st Century (ADM21), an organization dedicated to the education and preservation of musical theater dance. Since September 12, new weekly classes – ADM21 Repertory and Ballet for Broadway – have been added to the Steps schedule and are open to intermediate and advanced dancers who wish to build a musical theater career.
ADM21 will offer a rotating roster of Broadway greats and working choreographers to teach the classes in this residency. The program kicked off with classes by Donna McKechnie, who originated the role of Kathy in Company in 1970, and former New York City Ballet Principal Robert LaFosse.
“This partnership is an opportunity to share the common goal to expose and educate dancers to authentic musical theater choreography from stage, film and TV,” says Diane Grumet, co-artistic/managing director of Steps. “Experiencing this work enhances the performance skills of a dancer by training in the dimensions of character development, storytelling, musicality, style and dynamics.”
Nikki Feirt Atkins, ADM21 founder and producing artistic director, says the partnership is ideal, as “there is a common bond between the two organizations’ mission with respect to legacy and the preservation of dance history and education”.
The ADM21 Repertory Class (offered Monday and Wednesday afternoons from 1-2:30pm) consists of a half-hour of the original American Dance Machine warm-up, conceived by Lee Theodore, and an hour of original repertory from a wide variety of choreographic works, often taught by some of the original dancers. McKechnie, for instance, taught the “Tick Tock” number from Company, choreographed by Michael Bennett.
Ballet for Broadway (offered Wednesdays from 11:30am-1pm) is a ballet class focused on the needs of a Broadway dancer, with emphasis on technique and musicality.
“Our hope is to begin to fulfill the educational part of our mission – to pass on the styles and techniques that fueled great works of musical theater choreography from a historic perspective into the present,” Atkins explains.
These classes are geared toward pre-professional and professional dancers, with the hope that they can learn from a variety of voices and expand upon their versatility and artistic growth, according to Atkins.
Grumet adds, “The consummate dancer of today needs to have a strong technique, proficiency and be confident enough to switch styles quickly. They need to do it all. Offering these classes provides the dancer with the chance to explore, practice and perfect in a safe environment.”
In addition, the ADM21 classes will be mandatory for all Steps Conservatory students. Grumet sees this as a great learning tool for these students to dance alongside professionals and network with working artists.
Grumet also notes that this is just the beginning of the partnership between Steps and ADM21, as she foresees more classes being added down the road.
All classes will be held at Steps on Broadway, located at 2121 Broadway, between 74th and 75th Streets in NYC. For the full class schedule, visit www.stepsnyc.com/classes/schedule/.
By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.
Photo (top): Donna McKechnie teaching an ADM21 Repertory Class at Steps. Photo courtesy of Steps.