A couple weeks ago, we had Jay T. Schramek come to the studio to share his immense wealth of dance knowledge within the span of four workshops. The juniors started the day with a jazz workshop in which they worked on technique in leaps, turns, jumps and more. This was followed by a memorable musical theater workshop that was lots of fun for all!
As one of the dancers in the senior class, I can assure you that the value of these workshops can not be fully expressed in writing. In our first workshop, jazz, our class participated in a pirouette clinic. Jay broke down the mechanics of a proper preparation, retiré, and arm movements to learn how to improve our turns
Using liquid chalk markers on the mirrors, we learned the physics behind pirouettes (momentum= mass and force!) and applied this practically to how we held our bodies. Jay inspired the class to work diligently by giving each dancer personal corrections, and praising students based on their ability to correct, not solely on how many turns they could accomplish.
Doing our first set of pirouettes applying what we had learned, one student, Morgan Leeder, finished her turn with a burst of genuine excitement. She explained that her pirouettes had never felt so good before! This showed how much these small corrections could benefit the final outcome of our turns.
As we continued, we learned why people fall out of their pirouette. Depending on the direction they fall, corrections could be made regarding foot placement, arm movements and weight distribution. We were able to analyze each of our turns to learn what we had to fix as individuals to improve.
We also discovered how to increase the number of turns using the power of retiré to press up when you think you’re about to fall. For Indy Shams, this had a significant impact. By the end of class, we watched Indy do 6 consecutive pirouettes!
Altogether, this pirouette clinic was immensely valuable for every student in the class, and this wasn’t even the end of the day! In our musical theater workshop, the learning continued.
In this class, we discussed the why behind the what. What are we? We are dancers. Why are we dancers? Now this answer varies for each person. For example: we love the self-expression, or the studio community is priceless, or because of the freedom of movement. After determining why we love to dance, we discussed what our short-term goals are for our classes. We were then able to tie these goals to our love of dance, which made them much more significant. We applied this concept to the song we were dancing to- “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast. Analyzing the character of Lumière to determine the why that drives his what allowed us to portray his character more accurately.
In many workshops, dancers will do a warm up and some exercises, then work on a routine. Jay’s workshop broke this mold to become a vessel for sharing immense knowledge. Our junior and senior dancers who took these classes can use the strategies they learned throughout the rest of their dance and personal life. We are so grateful to have had this amazing opportunity to learn from Jay and hope to have him back again!