Chapman Dance students learn from the masters
“Master class” is a buzzword these days – and for good reason. Who doesn’t want to learn something they’re passionate about from an expert in the field?
For Chapman University Dance Students College of Performing Arts, master classes are regular. Thanks to the school’s partnership with the Musco Center for the Performing Arts and the university’s Leap of Art program, professional dancers visit campus throughout the academic year and participate in short residencies that allow students to learn through studio classes, question-and-answer sessions. answers and other learning opportunities that give them a taste of what it’s like. would like to pursue a career in dance.
When famed choreographer Dwight Rhoden, who joined Chapman’s dance faculty in 2021, brought his Dyed Contemporary Ballet to Chapman for a residency, Maya Palmer ’24 participated in five different masterclasses in one week with the New York-based dance company.
“The classes really challenged my movement in a new way. I have always loved ballet, however, learning their specific contemporary ballet style was new to my body and yet it felt so good,” says Palmer, who has been a fan of Complexions for as long as she can remember. to be a dancer.
“A masterclass is a chance for our students to have a class with someone they don’t normally study with,” says Julianne Pedersen, who chairs Chapman’s dance department.
Students take classes with regular teachers in a variety of styles — ballet, modern jazz, hip hop, ballroom, tap — in classes that run during the semester, just like an English class would, says -she.
“But then we get to bring in huge names in dance, who may not live in the area, who may even come from other countries,” says Pedersen.
“It’s very helpful to open students’ eyes to what’s out there, to introduce them to different ways of teaching, different ways of moving, different ways of thinking about the art of dance,” she says.
Giving dancers a head start in their careers
But residencies aren’t just about what dancers can learn — they also give those working in the dance industry a chance to learn more about Chapman dancers.
“People from all over the world can see the level of our students – we have a very good dance department. Our students are really talented, so it’s a way to introduce big names in the field to our students,” says Pedersen.
Some of the guest teachers Chapman brings in are talent agents, and senior students have the opportunity to audition while they’re here. Through these opportunities, students have signed with leading agencies such as Bloc or Go 2 Talent.
“There are a few who landed jobs right from the masterclasses,” says O’Brien.
“These university-sponsored masterclasses provide valuable insight into the various avenues of a career in dance, almost like a case study in the lives of those people we learn from,” says Cole Neville. ’23.
By watching their performance, taking lessons and learning the repertoire, and participating in question-and-answer sessions, students get a taste of what it’s like to be in a professional ballet company, he said.
Chapman is able to consistently offer this opportunity to students through the involvement of the Musco Center, which has the budget to bring in major dance companies and works with the dance faculty to develop residencies.
“It’s really exciting to work with Richard [Bryant, executive director of the Musco Center]says Pedersen.
Much thought and effort goes into the vision of each residency, which is as unique as the artists who take part in it. Past programs have even included a community outreach component, as when Diavolo brought veterans into the studio to work with students.
The Complexions residency was a unique experience for the Chapman dancers.
“It was so awesome to see our students taking lessons with some of the best dancers in the world. They are both at the same barre… They have to talk to the dancers. They literally hung out at the picnic tables,” says Pedersen.
Upcoming residencies will provide so many unique opportunities for dancers to learn and prepare for their professional careers.