I am currently in Pasadena, Maryland taking part in the Jamz Dance Center summer intensive featuring six of the So You Think You Can Dance finalists as teachers! Just to be in the presence of these dancers is amazing. Right after our warm up this morning, they played the SYTYCD theme song and they all came out and freestyled like they do at the beginning of each show. It made me feel like I was in the studio audience, up close and personal. The six dancers that we have as teachers each day are Kupono from season 5, Brandon from season 5, Katee from season 4, Melissa from season 5, Comfort from season 4, and Ashley from season 7.
Our days this week are beginning at 8 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m., so you can probably understand why I'm completely exhausted after the first day. After our group warm up and meeting the teachers, we learned a contemporary jazz combination for the placement audition. The six teachers sat at a table to judge us to see which levels they would place us in. Brandon brought a wooden malet with him and he hit it on the table whenever he liked something. He was hilarious! I got placed in the third group out of three, which is the older group of dancers. This placement process took all morning, so I could already feel my energy starting to drop and my muscles were getting sore. I haven't danced in about a month and this is exactly what I need to get back in shape!
Once we refueled at lunch, we got started with our afternoon classes. My group had Kupono first and we learned a sexy, jazz combination. He is so inspiring as a teacher and such a nice person. He gave us some great advice like instead of sticking with the basic steps and rhythms, try something different and out of the ordinary. It is our job as dancers to portray the music with our bodies, so he pushed us to experiment with all the many ways we could interpret that.
Brandon taught a jazz combo and a hip hop one too. He is probably the wildest, most random person I have ever seen in my life! One second he's talking with a British accent, the next he's juming up and down screaming. I didn't know one person could have so much energy. I tried to feed off of his energy during his class because I started to feel drained. He is such an awesome dancer and he has so much strength and precision with every movement he does. He helped us dance this way too by running the combinations over and over and over again until we got it exactly right.
We ended the day with a conditioning class taught by Katee. At this point I was mustering up all the energy I could find, and she kicked our butts even more! We did everything from jumping jacks, football runs, push ups and crunches. By the end, my abs were sore and my arms felt like jelly. I thought I would literally collapse when we did the last push up. This session was very demanding physically, but I feel like I benefitted a great deal from it. Katee is such a sweet girl, and she added some quirky, goofy things into the intense work out. For example, when we were sitting on the floor and leaning back to hold our abs tight, she had us start doing disco moves with our arms in order to make it more fun.
It was an all around great first day and I'm excited to see how the rest of the week goes! We start a set schedule tomorrow where we will have a morning warm up again and then have each of the six teachers in different styles throughout the day. Stay tuned to here more updates :)