At Mahogany Dance Arts, we aim to elevate and inspire dancers and we select the best of the best teachers to help us. Our teachers lead by example and value self-improvement, artistic development and lifelong learning. Our Tap Teacher, Miss Laura, recently packed her dance bag to attend one of the world’s most renowned dance schools in Düsseldorf, Germany. Keep reading to learn more about this incredible learning experience!
tanzhaus nrw is a highly acclaimed cultural institution for international dance. It boasts eight dance and rehearsal studios, two stages and over 1500 weekly visitors. The company proudly identifies as a “communal experience of dance under the roof of one single institution.” When we heard that Miss Laura was being dropped off at the international departure terminal to attend “Tap Dance Days,” we couldn’t wait to hear about her adventure. This is a “Cole’s notes” version of Miss Laura’s trip to Germany and her experience at one of the world’s oldest tap festivals.
“I was invited to participate in an artistic residency at tanzhaus nrw (German for “dance house”) as part of the annual tap dance festival in Düsseldorf; Tap Dance Days. My two colleagues and I wanted to start creating new choreography in hopes to eventually create a full-length concert. We had access to 6-8 hours of beautiful studio space each day and mentorship from Josh Hilberman (amazing tap dancer and choreographer) and an in-house Dramaturg Phillipp Schaus. A Dramaturg is an expert in the study of plays, musicals or operas and they provide vital knowledge and interpretation who helps develop and give feedback about the work.
Everyday we would work in the studio choreographing, improvising and having lots of discussions about what we wanted to create and what we wanted to say through our work. And every now and then Josh and/or Philipp would come observe and give us feedback and lots of information to consider. The biggest thing I learned was that it is much different making a dance work into a concept with some sort of message or goal rather than just thinking about the steps or the movement, it is much deeper and much more difficult to try to convey a message to an audience. The residency culminated in a showing on the last day of our week there. We showcased about 20 minutes of new work that we, as a collective, were so proud of and we are so excited to keep building this work into more! We got lots of positive feedback from the audience and lots of positive encouragement.
As part of the festival there were classes happening and shows every night. Some of the faculty and performers included Toronto based tap dancer Travis Knights; he performed his one man show “Ephemeral Artifacts”, Acia Gray – Artistic Director of Tapestry Dance Company, Carson Murphy – company member of Dorrance Dance, Leela Petronio from Paris, Danny Borak from Switzerland and more!! These professional dancers all watched our performance as well so that was really exciting for us.
After our residency we had a day to take the train to Liege, Belgium which is where Josh Hilberman has a studio “Claquettes Club” where he invites artists to perform and work in residency. He showed us around and we ate Belgian meatballs haha! We hope to go here again one day to perform our entire show!!
My experience in Germany was so amazing and I am so grateful for the support of MDA for me pursuing my dance career, thank you!!”
As Eleanor Roosevelt once said “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” We would like to extend a huge congratulations to Miss Laura for pursuing her passion and daring to dream. We are extremely proud of all of her accomplishments, including her residency at Jacobs Pillow in Massachusetts. You can read about her 2021 experience here.
And in case you know anyone else who dreams of being a dancer, there is still room to follow in her footsteps. Sign up here for one of her infamous tap classes or check out our website for a complete list of class options!