Monkeyhouse's Intern: Elyssa Berg

by Laila Fatimi

Elyssa Berg is a senior at Natick High School who is going on to major in Dance and Choreography and hoping to minor in Exercise Science or Nutrition at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA this coming fall. In this interview, she talks about the large parts in her life and what she has taken from her experiences so far that will help her down the road. 

LF:What do you feel was the most important thing you learned from growing up at Impulse Dance Center?

EB: Well, growing up at Impulse, I can say that it has definitely shaped who I am completely. I’ve spent most of high school held to a high standard of discipline that has taught me a lot. Being on time, never slacking off, always on task and focused, I could basically keep going on for a while. Not only have I learned how important being a role model for the people around me, but I have also learned how to work with the people around me. Being able to help others grow and have them help me grow and improve is an amazing process that never ceases to feel rewarding. Being part of the two performing companies,The Connecting Point Dance Company and the TAProject, I was able to learn how to act professionally not only when at venues that we are performing at but also in rehearsal and in class.

LF: What was your favorite performance you’ve done? And Why?

EB: I would have to say that my favorite performance would be Circles III, where I performed Arie Hockman’s “Red Means Go” with the Connecting Point Dance Company. Performing at Circles III was one of the first times I felt like I fully performed a piece and gave it my complete all. It was such an amazing feeling to be satisfied with what I have done on stage. For the first time I was able to forget about what I’m doing and just dance.

LF: I understand you attended the Bates Dance Festival Young Dancers Workshop and the Urbanity Contemporary Summer Intensive, this past summer. Did you learn any new techniques and styles from the programs? 
EB: With every teacher that you study with, there will always be a variation of style and I was able to experience a lot of that while learning from so many people in such a short amount of time. It was interesting how fast I found myself able to adapt to the styles of the teachers. Two teachers definitely stand out to me with very different styles and techniques. One was in Kyle Abraham’s Repertory Modern class that I took for three weeks at the Bates Dance Festival. His style was quite contemporary with a little kick. It felt like there was somewhat of a hip hop influence in his style which was very different to anything that I have previously experienced. Also taking class from Kat Pantos and Urbanity’s Contemporary Intensive was very unique. Her style was hard hitting and intense movement that required a great deal of strength and endurance. Because I had never studied contemporary intensely, this was my first exposure to the technique and style that was challenging and very different to anything that I have studied before.

LF: Did you like any particular style more than others?

EB: I would say that studying with Kyle Abraham was my favorite experience with a new style. Not only does he have an amazing company, Abraham In Motion, that I got to watch perform and also take class with the company members, but I was able to fully immerse myself in a style so much out of my comfort zone that I ended up falling in love with. Being surrounded by his company members for the three weeks, taking classes with them, and then being able to have Kyle set a piece on my class, I was able to experience his whole creative process and experience his style to the greatest extent.

LF: You have been a teacher’s assistant for 6 years now. Have you learned anything from teaching?

EB: I have to say that I am really grateful to have the opportunity to assist classes at Impulse Dance Center. When I first began assisting classes I began with the younger children, usually around 7-8 years old. Watching young dancers grow and learn is such an amazing experience that is completely fulfilling. Later on I moved on to the older children when I began assisting ballet classes. Not only am I able to learn how to direct a class but assisting classes helps me to become a better dancer. I’m able to notice corrections that have to be made which really helps in my body awareness. All the corrections that I am able to give to the students I find that I am focusing on for myself in my own classes. Also being the example in a ballet class means that my technique has to be on point all the time. I take the class that I assist as seriously as any of my other classes and am able to work just as hard as I would during any other class.

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