Getting to Know Jonathan Lee

Often referred to as "Sunday Funday" by the staff, Sundays at Steps on Broadway are a little less busy and a lot more laid back than weekdays. One of the highlights of the day is Jonathan Lee's 2:00 Beginning Hip-Hop Class which is always overflowing with dancers and non-dancers alike, fun and cutting edge choreography and a contagious energy.
Danielle T
hibault, a student and hip-hop instructor at Impulse Dance Center in Natick, MA agreed to talk to Jonathan about his career as a performer, choreographer and teacher.

DT: What attracts you to hip hop more than styles such as ballet or modern?

What attracts me to hip hop is the music. I love all different styles of dance but hip hop gives me the freedom to express myself more freely.

DT: Out of all the things you've done, such as working with famous performers, being in commercials, theater productions, taking class, and teaching -- which is your favorite and why?
I love performing out of all the things that I do, whether it be in front of the camera or on stage. It's like breathing I can't live without it!!

DT: What was it like to work with people such as Britney Spears and Madonna? JL: I enjoyed working with Britney and Madonna. I was so blessed to work with such huge pop stars.

DT: Who has been your biggest inspiration in life and why?
JL: My biggest inspiration is my faith in God. Through good and bad, He has always kept me grounded.

DT: When did you start dancing?
I started dancing when I was able to walk but I started taking class when I was 8 years old. =-D

DT: When teaching a class, what is your goal for the students entering?
JL: When I teach, I want my students to have a good time. Even though they may not get every step the first time I want them to feel and know that they eventually will.

DT: Have you always known that you wanted to dance? If so, did you always see yourself doing hip hop?
I didn't know that I always wanted to dance but I knew I always wanted to entertain. I enjoyed being the ham. Hip hop and dance in general has really catapulted that into a reality.

DT: How did taking other styles of dance influence your choreography in your hip hop classes?
I feel other dance styles have made me a better and stronger dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Nowadays, there is so much fusion going on that you have to well versed in all disciplines.

DT: What do you find the hardest part of teaching? And what is the best part?
JL: The hardest part of teaching is being patient with myself and my students. I tell my students if they are patient with themselves I am patient with them as well. The best part is being able to share my craft with people and hoping that after taking class they walk away feeling inspired and better about themselves.

DT: Did you go to college for dance?
JL: I did not go to college for dance but I did go to school for music.

DT: Who are some of your favorite choreographers?
One choreographer that I have to give it up to is Mr.Wiggles, who is one of my mentors. I like Tabitha and Napoleon, Alvin Ailey, Bob Fosse, and Jerome Robbins. There are so many. People have so much to offer.

Catching Up with Peter Carpenter (part 1)

Peter Carpenter and Donnell Williams rehearsing My Fellow Americans

Photo by Cheryl Mann.  

By karen Krolak

If you happen to be in Chicago this fall, please live vicariously for me. October is just jammed with fabulous dance performances by artists I adore. Be sure to start the month of at Peter Carpenter's My Fellow Americans.

Peter Carpenter fuses political activism with intensely physical poetry. Images from his earliest works, such as When I Say I'm Queer Does It Frighten You?, still leave me breathless almost two decades later.  His raw masterpieces appeal to audience members all along the ideological spectrum. I have known die hard Republicans who followed his work even if they did not agree with his ideas.

His latest creation explores "the shifting identity of Ronald Reagan from the perspectives of the "special interest groups" that his rhetoric and policies consistently admonished," according to his facebook invite.  Please go see it and let me know what you think. Oh, and check back on Friday to read my email interview with Pete.

My Fellow Americans
Thursday & Friday performances: October 8, 9, 15, & 16 at 7:30pm 
Hamlin Park Studio Theater
3035 N. Hoyne, Chicago, IL 60618 (map)

$15 general admission/$10 student or low income
Buy Tickets online directly at brownpapertickets.com

Choreography: Peter Carpenter
Performers: Peter Carpenter, Lisa Gonzales, Suzy Grant, Atalee Judy and Donnell Williams.


Dance Sneaks into the Fuller Craft Museum (part 2)

by Karen Krolak

While some of the pieces in the Perfect Fit at the Fuller Craft Museum reference dance directly, others simply reminded me of specific Monkeyhouse pieces. For instance, Marjorie Schick's Chopines and Puddles, 2008 pictured at the right (Photo: Gary Pollmiller), would be right at home in the futuristic setting of Odalisque/What's Next. These puddle jumpers practically beg for someone to investigate their movement potential.

In fact, when Monkeyhouse premiered at the 2000 Philadelphia Fringe Festival, we had to build something similar but far less elegant. I had blown out my ACL a few weeks before the festival and could not manage to dance on our usual drywall stilts. Thank goodness Amelia was able to craft a suitable alternative for us. (On a related note: Nicole should share the rather humorous story about how those stilts altered her professional debut in that concert.)

After glancing around Marjorie's website,  I am fascinated by her unusual wearable art extravaganzas. Hmmm...I wonder if she would ever be interested in designing some costumes...


Dance Sneaks into the Fuller Craft Museum (part 1)

by Karen Krolak

I love when I stumble onto dance themes in surprising places. Meandering down to Brockton to see The Perfect Fit - Shoes Tell Stories at the Fuller Craft Museum, for instance, I was not expecting echoes of tap classes or beeswax enveloped ballet slippers. 

I caught my first whiff of dance's influence on this exhibit as I passed by Judy Haberl's Baby Opera. While I was staring at the assortment of 416 bronzed baby shoes that resembled miniature masks, a recording of someone delicately flapping, shuffling, and tapping reverberated through the hall. 

Continuing on my backwards journey through the exhibit,  I discovered Jennifer Carroll's Dancerexia. Jennifer is a professional choreographer and teacher who has trained at the American Ballet Theater School, Joffrey, Louis-Nikolais Dance Lab, and  Pilobolus. Her visual art explorations began by altering her collection of used dance shoes. "Some are perfect as they are: worn, torn, even bloody. Others I have taken the liberty of transforming." she explains on her website. In Dancerexia she revamped one of her own black pointe shoes and replaced the slipper's toe box with a scale that registers 100 pounds. 

oops...must run to a meeting but there will be more on this soon.


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