International Producer and American Choreographer Sean McLeod looks on as New York City Professional Dancers dance a combination at the Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre Auditions NYC at Dance Arts New York (DANY) in New York City.
Many New York City dancers are still feeling the impact after the New York Dance Festival Fall Workshops NYC and Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre Fall Auditions earlier this month. For half a week, NYC professional dancers and members of Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre came together to dance and study McLeod Technique with International Producer and American Choreographer Sean McLeod at Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center and DANY Studios. Their presence and approach to dance is awe inspiring and the realization that great NYC technique could be accompanied with hugs, laughter, and profound fearless learning was one of the most shocking discoveries for the global dancers whom had come to NYC. Sean arrived in NYC Thursday afternoon and Thursday night brought two hours of intense, inspired McLeod Technique Workshops filled with a quality dance that harkened back to modern masters of Limón or Graham, Emotional Development, and in-depth learning about the physiology and motor function of a dancers’ most precious tool – the human body. There was so much learning that and excitement to this level of expertise that the questions kept coming even after the workshop! To help further understanding, Sean even continued to help and teach post-class in the hallway at Gibney Downtown allowing anyone within earshot to benefit from the extra time. Like clarifying questions about being able to use her knees fully in a grand plié with one leg extended from NYC dancer Nicole Kadar, she was shocked at the simplicity and instant benefit from the answer. What’s more is everyone that was present walked away with a deeper understanding; this is something NYC dancers often want but rarely receive in professional NYC environment. Time is too precious and master teachers are so quickly on the move. Nicole’s reflection after just one McLeod Technique Master Class was nothing short of extreme adulation while being filled with personal revelation:
“I am sore today in places I’m normally not, and today in ballet I was in control on my body early on and balancing in passé and releve arabesque – no problem. I’m convinced it was from class yesterday.” – Nicole Kadar
Another unique element of McLeod Technique is its “Split Level Teaching”, which is woven seamlessly into all MT Workshops and Master Classes. Split Level Teaching is a process where all ages and abilities work together in the same space and it is up to the master teacher in the space to ensure that everyone walks away deeply fulfilled and mentored in their learning. Whether it be a novice dancer in a master class of professionals or a multi-certified personality being called on to teach instantly, each person has a profound learning opportunity during a McLeod Technique class. One instance of Split Level Teaching happened on Friday as New York Institute of Dance & Education Junior Associate, Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre First Company Member, and McLeod Technique Certified Personality that teaches MT (McLeod Technique) in NYC Joseph Akin, was surprised by being given the floor by founder Sean McLeod to begin this second day of McLeod Technique NYC Workshops. MT Split Level Teaching keeps everyone learning at a very high level and removes the burden off the student to be good enough to be taught by a master teacher, and places that responsibility on the master teacher where it belongs. A huge fear relieving and welcomed realization for all dancers that have encountered the method so far.
NYIDE Junior Associate and Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre First Company Member Joseph Akin starts off the New York Dance Festival Fall Workshops NYC Friday night classes with the MT 4 Rules of Interaction at Gibney Dance Union Square (890 Broadway).
In every aspect of McLeod Technique there is always something more to learn, whether it be physically, mentally, or emotionally. That is exactly what every dancer attending -company member or not- the Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre Audition on Saturday experienced. You instantly understand for Sean, “dance” is more then just the body; it is about the mind and soul as well. But not just in that clique way that almost everyone says these days. Like, “we are all family, or this is just like family”. It is way more simple yet more profound than that. You learned, just as you would take care of an injury to maintain the health of you dance body, you must more so take care of your emotional self to maintain the health, the mental health this is the foundation of who you are. How you are. One of the most powerful MT lessons taught during a Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre Auditions is that dance doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) degrade you or anyone around you. You are not competing against the other dancers, you should be bonding with them. An audition is a dreadful solitary event full out angst and loathing other accomplishments. However, according to Sean and McLeod Technique, an audition should be a place of joy, filled with people who know your situation better then most others anywhere and certainly outside that room. An Audition space should be a place of easy connection, rather then competition. Because of the McLeod Technique principles that were laid out so clearly to the auditionees, that is exactly what happened. And it was powerful.
International Producer and American Choreographer Sean McLeod teaches auditionees that “Joy should be the standard” and that dance should not be a place of self-degradation.
Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre Rehearsal Director and Soloist Devon McLeod leads a combination at the Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre Auditions alongside KDT First Company Edward Rosado, Company in Training Abby Marchesseault, and Company in Training from Australia Lauren Farrugia.
Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre Principal Jerami Kipp and Soloist Kierstyn Zaykoski demonstrate a combination at the Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre Fall Auditions at DANY.
Professional Dancer Lucia Rivarola from Argentina who attended the audition reflected:
“I thought it would be very competitive and not a really nice energy, because that is the kind of audition I know and I was scared about that. But I get courage thinking “I had nothing to lose” I went. I couldn’t believe it. SO different than what I thought. It was the greatest surprise ever. At the immediate moment I started to hear what Sean said, I couldn’t stop smiling. I felt like he and the company appeared in my life right on time. The things that that man was saying to me were exactly the things I came to learn here. I loved to be there every single moment. I enjoyed dancing that evening so much.”
Written by: Joseph Akin
Junior Associate, New York Institute of Dance & Education
First Company, Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre
NYC McLeod Technique Teacher
The Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre helps women and girls learn to appreciate themselves again through lessons in behavior control, life skills, and healthy comparison based evaluation for all. Families are rebuilt through family mediation, where parents learn to use our principles to control their children while becoming happier people. Teachers are able to make their classrooms into safe spaces that quickly begin to change the chemistry of the student population. In addition to our NYC, Global and regional work, we stay connected to Upstate New York, in the underserved communities of Sean McLeod’s youth and supply Auburn, NY and Cayuga County with a Black-run arts organization, an entity the city desperately needs along with positive role models for minority and underserved youth in the community.
One of the most unique aspects of the New York Institute of Dance & Education’s Applied Study Program is its direct access to people of note in the world of dance and business coupled with the invaluable information that is not only taught, but then encouraged to be applied which allows the candidates to learn a treasure trove of information throughout the course. On Tuesday, KDT Apprentice & Applied Study Candidate Chelsea Blakeburn and Applied Study Candidate Symphony Quencer gained a new measure of access as they sat in International Producer and American Choreographer Sean McLeod’s Private Studio alongside NYIDE Product Director and McLeod Technique Certified Personality Kierstyn Zaykoski, German Choreographer and NYIDE European Liaison Gregory Livingston, and Sean McLeod himself to begin the 2015-2016 Applied Study Program and MT Sessions.
Sean began the semester with a brief yet pointed talk that inspired and motivated: “I am not here to teach you how to dance; though you will certainly learn that throughout the program. I am here to help you become more formidable women, who are not defeated by struggles that may come. Women who are able to move past the scars of depression, or wash away the anguish of rape and in turn able to succeed in whatever path you choose in life. Throughout Applied Study, you will learn information like it is coming from a fire hydrant, and it is your job to capture it and harness it.”
The master class now up and moving worked through a Movement Integration series that took normally static exercises like pliés, relevés, and tendus and articulated them into action so that the dancers could understand how to make these elements useful. After going through the first series once, which to an outsider might have appeared seemingly “simple,” the candidates were sweating hard and loving every minute. The focus was not on the steps (though correct alignment was stressed), but rather on the intention behind the steps and carrying the “fashion of performance” throughout making each step simply real—not just an exercise or combination.
Throughout the week combinations continued to build using the premise of “strength through the core, the construction of a straight leg and foot strength” because those elements are the foundation of all other movement in dance. By the second day of the program, Sean took each person and reinforced them in a traditional side tilt. “I had never even attempted one before,” said Symphony. “I was just amazed he even thought to reinforce me in the position.”
Though there were great leaps in movement capability, the most striking growth was in the emotional disposition and growth of the candidates. Said Kierstyn Zaykoski: “I have been working with Symphony for the past year through Custom MT Sessions and she has grown significantly. However, seeing her this week not only dance alongside those of us in the room who dance professionally in NYC as a living, but enter and leave each day with the smile that never left her face and having the ability to communicate some profound lessons she was gaining during the talk arounds reminded me just how powerful this program is. I know the impact the Applied Study Program had on me, and I am looking forward to seeing how it changes and develops present candidates over the course of the next two semesters.”
By Chelsea Blakeburn
Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre is fresh off of a tour to Auburn, NY and back in NYC for regular classes! This week, NYC Director of the New York Institute of Dance & Education, Hana Ginsburg Tirosh, focused on McLeod Technique Modern, a codified dance technique based in emotional development that cultivates a vast movement range, an emotional vocabulary, and a process that inspires dancers to be happy people! Hana said she “was excited to use some of the MT material and techniques I got from Sean on our amazing weekend trip, so although I had planned to do RMF for Ballet Application to make use of the barres at DANY I decided to pivot to MT Modern!”
On Wednesday, Hana honed in on a movement integration series that Sean taught her the week before, highlighting the physical work that goes into constructing dance that is emotionally honest. She worked one-on-one with NYC Professional Dancer Ruth Rae, who had also shared in learning the combination from Sean. Because Ruth had been in the room when Sean set the intention of this series, she had an advantage that many of the other dancers did not: information! What Ruth lacked initially in class was the courage to use that which she already knew. Sean iterates often that “if you have the correct information but you don’t use it, then you do not get the benefit of having it.” Hana quickly helped Ruth to recalibrate how to employ her pre-existing knowledge by asking Ruth to teach Hana the combination. By verbalizing the movement (and using a strong voice!), Ruth demonstrated with confidence that her wealth of information was greater than she imagined. And Ruth learned to be more formidable in the process!
During the Friday morning class, Hana’s focus on emotional intention brought the class to another high point. The robust physical warm up was actually an exercise in being emotionally warm. During one portion of the class, the dancers had to ascend and descend from relevé for a good ten minutes. Their muscles were burning, but instead of giving out or giving up, the dancers looked at each other and smiled! Encouragement and inspiration started flowing in the room. Conversations between eyes and eyebrows said, “You got this! We can make it!” Such a small gesture has huge ramifications. With the Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre, who you are as a person is vital to your lifespan in the company. Every dancer in every company will endure grueling physical drills; how many of those places will leave you feeling uplifted in the process? That emotional fortitude is the netting that meshes the company together as friends and family, that catches us with grace when we fall.
We as a company are so incredibly grateful to Hana Ginsburg Tirosh for sharing her wealth of knowledge in the classes she has been teaching since January. We are excited to welcome back our sister, NYIDE Senior Associate and KDT NYC Rehearsal Director Devon McLeod, after studying and working abroad in Prague, Czech Republic this past spring! Devon, an MT master, will be at the helm of MT Open Classes as we head into the fall our 25th Anniversary Season.
Join Devon McLeod and the rest of Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre for MT Open Classes this week!
Wednesday, September 2: 5pm-6pm at 100 Grand Dance
Friday, September 4: 11am-12pm at Ripley Grier Studios, 520 8th Ave
Visit mcleodtechnique.com to register!
By Chelsea Blakeburn
Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre Company Members learned from the Executive Team about the business, design, and communication, that goes on behind all the dancing with which they are familiar. A great opportunity wrapped in the bridge being forged between Upstate and NYC Dance.
This week, several Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre Company Members traveled from NYC to Auburn, NY to work with the American Choreographer and New York Institute of Dance & Education President and CEO, Sean McLeod, at the company’s upstate base of operations. NYC Director of NYIDE Hana Ginsburg Tirosh, NYIDE Junior Associates Chelsea Blakeburn and Joseph Akin, NYIDE Associate Ruth Rae, and KDT Company Apprentice Jillian Sawyer all came to spend time in Auburn. KDT, which is about to launch its year long 25th Season Anniversary Tour, calls both NYC and Auburn home! In Auburn, the dancers delved into the business side of NYIDE to learn administrative
NYIDE Product Director and KDT Second Soloist Kierstyn Zaykoski cutting the first slice of a beautiful surprise birthday cake that she received from Anita Tuccillo, Gregory Livingston, Sean, the Executive Team, and fellow Company Members!
Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre/Sean McLeod Dance Experience is not going to miss a chance to celebrate Company Apprentice K
A few of the Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre Company Members take a moment to share smiles with company sister Kaley Pruitt Ozminkowski and husband Dan Ozminkowski at the New York Celebration of their wedding that took place in July in Idaho.
Sean graciously opened his home to the company for the duration of the visit. The company took robust MT Master classes with him in his home studio, studied Reinforced Motor Function Application for Reformer in his Pilates studio, viewed breathtaking archival footage in the office, and shared conversation and meals together, many times prepared by Sean himself! At this level of dance, it is rare for an executive or producer to take this kind of time and effort to grant such intimate access to their home and family, something that Sean does with utter ease and hospitality. And the company is incredibly grateful! Sean has created a studio culture of inclusion; it is something that he lives and requires the company to exemplify as well. In Sean’s own words, “If you are not actively practicing and teaching love you are actively practicing and teaching hate.” This principle is embraced incredibly by NYIDE European Liaison and International German Choreographer Gregory Livingston, who extended his visit to the States after the New York Dance Festival last month. Sean (and in turn the whole company) calls Gregory “Maestro” “for the way he conducts my life.” Gregory Livingston has been integral to the development and continued growth of McLeod Technique. His emotional signature and near three decades of understanding and assisting Sean are an amazing example of commitment to friendship and the family you pick for yourself. Sean says, “Gregory ushers in a sense of calm and peace to every room he enters. He can tell me what to do. And that is good, every person needs to be told to be quiet from time to time.” It is clear that Sean and Gregory, brothers by bond, nurture and encourage one another in their careers and personal lives. Learning from two master teachers in dance and in life created an impact that will reach far beyond this weekend, leaving the company in high spirits, skilled in their knowledge, humble in their ability, and ready to spread that light back in New York City and beyond.
NYC Dancer Ruth Rae and NYC Director of the New York Institute of Dance & Education Hana Ginsburg Tirosh are seen here studying McLeod Technique in a special class with founder Sean McLeod himself in Auburn NY.
Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre Members came back to NYC from the New York Dance Festival fresh with inspiration having met the Legendary KDT Performer and McLeod Technique Gold Standard Teacher Lorienne Beals who was in from Italy! In the photo above: Lorienne demonstrates during a Reinforced Motor Function for Ballet Application Master Class with Master Teacher and Executive Producer Sean McLeod at the New York Dance Festival. Lorienne and Sean have a magical connection as she grew up and flourished under his tutelage. Today, Lorienne Beals is an international powerhouse in her own right, performs regularly in concerts and innovative projects in Italy, and is a leading expert in McLeod Technique and Reinforced Motor Function world wide.
The Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre/Sean McLeod Dance Experience has had a wonderful week of McLeod Technique (MT) Open Classes and rehearsals in NYC! August has been absolutely beautiful and we have transferred that sunshine into the studio! On Wednesday, NYC Director for the New York Institute of Dance & Education Hana Ginsburg Tirosh, taught Reinforced Motor Function for Ballet Application, leading dancers through MT biomechanics application that make ballet exercises just work. This RMF lens just works and is pain free. By focusing on the traditional aspects of classical ballet through a scientific understanding, dancers are able to perform classical positions in the healthiest manner. This extends the use of their knees, hips, and backs for many many years. In MT or RMF Tendu becomes Tendu Escape, employing action in both legs versus focusing on the working leg (the leg in the air) only. In a revelation of understanding, grande pliés in fourth and fifth shift the weight forward and equally into both legs. This properly aligns the knees (and the use of the knee) and suggests the crotch rest evenly between the two heels allowing for new strength source points to be engaged. This application arrests the erosion of knee integrity normally associated with grande plié fourth and fifth position exercises.
RMF for Ballet Application transforms all the static exercises traditionally taught at the barre and puts them into tangible exercises through Movement Integration. Movement Integration allows dancers to take the foundation steps of basic ballet and practice their use in actual motion as the first steps of ballet class. Amazement, smiles, and joy are equally if not more important! And after discovering these actualities smiles are abundant for sure. Below, New York Institute of Dance & Education Product Director and MT Expert Kierstyn Zaykoski reinforces KDT/SMDEx Company Member Crystal Fraser in NYC. Crystal is getting an opportunity perfect a MT Long Leg Lift exercise as she is reinforced by Zaykoski in the NYC class. Kierstyn also reminded her that “joy should be the standard!” in class and in life!
Friday, NYC Director for the New York Institute of Dance & Education Hana Ginsburg Tirosh, led an extremely robust Reinforced Motor Function class. She had everyone sweating bullets in the first few minutes! Here, KDT/SMDEx Company Members Jillian Sawyer and Cassandra Bowser work together to find a sense of suspension for Jerami Kipp’s Least Traveled!
Join the New York City MT Wave! Open McLeod Technique classes this week!
Wednesday, August 19: 4pm-5pm at DANY Studios
Friday, August 21: 10am-11am at Battery Dance
Visit newyorkdancefestival.com to register!
Written by: Chelsea Blakeburn