For many years, Mt. Hebron’s Dance Program has hosted Artists in Residence, where choreographers from all over the world are invited into the classroom to teach the students new styles of dance. During these master classes, the dancers get the opportunity to ask these professionals questions about their technique and how they made a career out of dance.
“Master classes with professional dancers give students the opportunity to learn new techniques, styles, concepts and artistry,” Dance teacher Ms. Dina Reyes said.
When the dancers went to Hawaii last year, they met Josh Ulep, a choreographer and owner/director of Hypersquad Dance Studio. He has also been on America’s Got Talent, The Ellen Show and America’s Best Dance Crew. On Jan. 6, Ulep came from Waipahu, HI to teach the Mt. Hebron dancers new moves that they may not have learned while in Hawaii.
“Josh has experience in music videos and working with top celebrities, so he has given us tips and shown us through his class how to be professional and have fun. He also helped all of us dancers step out of our comfort zone as a dance company in terms of style,” said junior Sarah Humm.
In addition to the standard curriculum that is required within each classroom setting, Ms. Reyes believes that providing students exposure to professionals and other styles of dance allows more opportunities for her students. They learn through performances, field trips, master classes and speakers who connect with the content that they are learning.
Junior Alysa Mallin said, “We have performed at Disney World, Universal Studios and Hawaii, as well as performing at the middle schools to inspire them to take dance.”
“We’ve learned spacial awareness and [to] work well with the people we are dancing with,” added junior Lindsay Solomon.
Throughout the year, the dance students have been able to work with a wide variety of artists including cultural dance companies, university dance professors and professional dancers who have worked with celebrities in professional dance companies, theme parks, music videos, television, film and Broadway. Ms. Reyes has said she wishes to be able to keep this tradition going for many more years.
Ms. Reyes said, “The dance world is a tight community, and I continue to reach out and connect with those in the field for my students and for my own love of dance.”
Through her relationships with those in the industry, Ms. Reyes has been to be able to give her students the experience of being professional dancers and performing in professional dance venues.