CLASS

DESCRIPTIONS

"Radically Innovative Dance" curriculum for all ages and levels. 

We are currently updating this page with all of our Winter / Spring Class descriptions, and it will be finished in the next few days. We thank you for your patience. If you cannot find a description about the class you are looking for or are in need of further information, please call (904)414-6899, and we will be happy to answer your questions! 

WHAT IS CONTEMPORARY?

In comparison to Ballet or Modern Dance, which are structured more as codified forms, Contemporary is organized similarly to Urban Dance; they are both a melting pot of dance forms. Therefore, there is no perfect definition of Contemporary. Contemporary’s roots are mainly based in the concert dance forms of Ballet and Modern, but the style is also known to pull from many other dance genres too. As dance form without defined movements or structures, Contemporary has actively changed with the trends of the time, and for that reason, classes and choreography within this dance form are often associated with being current and within the style of today.

We are a school that highly believes in the foundation that improvisation brings to Contemporary dance work, and so we HIGHLY recommend that our Contemporary class be taken with our in house original improvisation experience, RA.IN. Find out more about RA.IN is below!

 

For people who do not quite understand what contemporary dance is, SkunkWorks’ Founder and Director, Jana Bennett, gives the analogy:

 

“Think of ballet as still life paintings; beautiful, particular and detailed, but it has set structural foundations it has to abide to. Contemporary dance, on the other hand, is a lot more like modern or contemporary art. Just as technical as ballet, but there is more freedom within the form itself.”
 

Interested in better understanding contemporary dance? Take a look at this great article on the exploration of what Contemporary dance is and how it differs from Modern dance from Dance Magazine: https://www.dancemagazine.com/modern_vs_contemporary-2306900829.html

 

WHAT IS NEO CONTEMPORARY?

Neo Contemporary is our base practiced form of Contemporary Dance. It is a more Ballet-based, technical and detailed Contemporary form rooted in Modern dance groundedness and floorwork, rich with a multitude of textures and raw human physicality. A a Contemporary form, it tends to lean towards the European style influenced by techniques such as Gaga and professional companies like Batsheva Dance Company, Nederlands Dans Theater, Punchdrunk International and Kidd Pivot, among many. In performance, we explore a variety of mediums not limited to the theatrical stage, dance film or video and site-specific work. 

WHAT IS CONTEMPORARY FUSION?

Contemporary Fusion is a style more heavily rooted Urban, Hip Hop and Breakdance forms in addition to the traditional Ballet and Modern dance influences. Expect a highly physical class with a strong emphasis on clear musicality. Companies and choreographers currently influencing this trending Contemporary style include OURO Collective, Chicago Dance Crash and in the likes of choreographer Rena Butler. 

WHAT IS RA.IN?

Wash away the biases and boxed in nature of traditional concert dance forms, and get soaked in the innovation of your own movement exploration. RA.IN is a SkunkWorks ORIGINAL dance form based on years of analysis and development of the needs of the professional dance artist. The name comes from our slogan “Radically Innovative” because it the form that calls on the dancer to take risks, create and be an active participant both physically and mentally. Through guided imagery, concepts and words each student experiences their own unique journey through the movement they choose to create. 

 

Each class is a directive improvisation, meaning the instructor will lead the dancers verbally through the dance tasks and ideas within the class. Though, it is how each individual interprets the teacher’s prompt where the innovation and fun truly sets in. In RAIN, you get lost in your own world of dance, feel the immersive passion of the dancers around you and discover a new sense of self. Set to a wide-variety of inspiring and heart-pumping music, you are sure to leave class with a smile on your face!

RA.IN is our only class offered to all dancers of all levels, ages 7 and UP! Yes adult dancers, this one's for you too! Find joy in commUNITY.

WHAT IS URBAN DANCE?

Urban Dance is a more recent dance form to the Westernized dance scene and is often miscatorigized as Hip Hop Dance. Before we go any further, it is very important that you understand what Hip Hop is and is not. Hip Hop Dance stemmed from Breakdancing and social / party dances that rooted back to particular ideas within Hip Hop culture. Therefore, a lot of what is often current categorized as “Hip Hop” dance is not actually true to the cultural roots of the form. 

 

The term “Urban Dance” originated two decades ago in California as a new way of expressing the mix of dance forms that were being blended with traditional Hip Hop styles, and the future emphasis on choreography and performing that was emerging within the dance scene. In a current Urban Dance class, the dancer is less focused on training a set of skills and more focused on the choreography, timing and musicality. Set to popular music and popular eye-catching steps, Urban Dance is joy-filled dance class every person needs in their llife.


If you are interested in learning more or getting more information on the differences between Hip Hop and Urban Dance check out this great article from the STEEZY Blog here: https://blog.steezy.co/what-is-urban-dance/

WHAT IS COMMERCIAL DANCE?

Learn the choreography styles and technicals skills of music videos, Youtube Videos, TV / Film and backup dancing. Our Commercial Dance class at SkunkWorks is mainly within the genres of  Urban Dance, Hip Hop, Street and Funk, but other style influences include Contemporary, Breaking, Musical Theater and so much more. Train for a professional dance career in popular commercial places like LA and within the styles techniques taught at world-famous studios such as Millennium Dance Complex or The Playground LA. 

WHAT IS INVERT/INVENT?

This class teaches movement concepts inspired by break dance and contemporary and modern floor techniques. Dancers are taught a variety of movement concepts and patterns and are encouraged to explore, play and discover new shapes and movement pathways to, from, and on the floor. Dancers will also be challenged to execute and experiment with inversions (head stands/handstands), patterns that engage different body parts (in addition to hands and feet, think knees, elbows, shoulders, and hips making contact with the floor), and find new ways to safely generate and utilize momentum. 

WHAT IS BALLET?

Ballet is a dance form that originated in the fifteenth century during the Italian Renaissance to later become popularized in France and Russia. It is often thought to be the basis of all Western concert dance forms such as Modern, Contemporary and Jazz Dance. It is form that demands a high amount of skill development in addition to strength, flexibility, grace, performance and musicality. It generally a codified form, meaning it has a set vocabulary of movements and ideas.

 

When people think of Ballet, they often associate the form with the dancers in tutus and pointe shoes (the artists who dance on their toes). While this does represent a subset of ballet, it is not representative of the vast majority of dancers that study Ballet on flat (without pointe shoes) for training and joy. Currently in the professional world, Ballet has become extensively more demanding physically. Therefore at SkunkWorks, we practice a more Neo-Classical Ballet form meaning we draw extensively from Classical Ballet, in particular the Cecchetti form, but we believe teaching to the needs of the genre today which includes a larger emphasis on physicality, strength building, endurance growth and can also include contemporary ballet specialized movement. 

 

Learn more about the history of ballet from the Atlanta Ballet here: https://www.atlantaballet.com/resources/brief-history-of-ballet0


Learn more about the styles of ballet, in particular neo-classical and contemporary ballet, from the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater here: https://www.pbt.org/learn-and-engage/resources-audience-members/ballet-101/what-is-ballet/ 

WHAT IS SOMA BALLET?

Soma Ballet is a SkunkWorks ORIGINAL class form focused on teaching the complex techniques of ballet through the utilization of a highly anatomical approach, tactile exploration and connecting the mind to the body. This class is interactive and engages the student at a level often unseen in other ballet classes which we have found, leads to a faster path to individual growth. Our students also tend feel excited about and invested in an often thought to be "boring" dance form. Soma Ballet is usually practiced without music, and paces quite differently than a traditional ballet class.

WHAT IS VOLT BALLET?

Volt Ballet is SkunkWorks ORIGINAL class that was created to develop the stamina and musicality that is called for within the professional concert dance world. Currently, there is a discrepancy between the choreography that professional ballet companies are now performing and the preparation given to them in traditional ballet class. Choreographically, companies are more and more performing works that are long and require dancers to be on stage for a majority of the work dancing at an extraordinary high level of physicality. The traditional ballet class of the past, but is most commonly practiced, prepares dancers for quick sprints of movement and long held shapes, like the popular storyline ballets dance structures of the 18th and 19th century. Nowadays this model of class is not appropriate to the work being practiced and performed in the professional world.  Volt Ballet seeks to solve this discrepancy by providing a class that specializes in longer form ballet combination with the intension to strengthen a students individual stamina and power. This class also has an extensive emphasis on developing students' musical knowledge and perfecting their ear to body connection. 

WHAT IS MUSICAL THEATER DANCE?

In comparison to all the other dance styles we offer at SkunkWorks, Musical Theater Dance is our form without any particular dance style influences. Like current shows, the genre of this class can completely vary. What roots this dance genre is it’s links to Broadway and musical theater shows. Every dance in our Musical Theater class is set to a specific piece of music from a current or past show. The movements, style and approach are influenced by the history of each musical and the song’s role within the show. 

 

Dance to the popular tunes you grew up singing to and some you may not have even heard of! This form is based less on the development of technical skills and more on the learning and mastering of energetic choreography, as an actor or actress would have to do in an audition. If you are looking for strong skill development in addition to the mastery of Broadway phrase work and style, we highly suggest adding at least one ballet or jazz class onto your class schedule.

WHAT IS JAZZ?

Jazz dance is the fusion of mainly ballet, tap and African dance set to jazz and African-based rhythms. It was created in the early 1900’s, but found popularity in the 1950s through many great dancers many of which were Chicago-based. Jazz dance is often characterized through technical shapes, body isolations, fast rhythmic footwork and a strong emphasis on a dancer’s core center. Today, jazz dance has grown into many unique and exciting subset forms. Elements like leaps, turns and sassy combinations have also become staples of the form.

 

Want to know more about the different forms of jazz that exist in our dance world today? Read this great article from Dance Spirit: https://www.dancespirit.com/the-jazz-breakdown-2326335865.html

WHAT IS FLUX JAZZ?

Flux Jazz is a class specializing in teaching the wide array of Jazz techniques used current on the professional dance scene. Jazz, like Modern Dance, is a more codified dance form that is still very rooted in it's core stylistic nature from the 1950's. Unlike Modern Dance through, Jazz is still widely used throughout the professional dance industry especially on Broadway and in commercial work. Therefore due to it's current relevance, the genre's development of physicality and emphasis on fast movement, we find that this form is still very important for dancers to have as a part of their training repetoire. We teach Flux Jazz because our style taught will be forever in flux as jazz is today. From the original techniques of how to execute the correct jazz hands to the newer and more modernized physical leaps and creative turns, we teach our students all the techniques needed to be a dancers today. This class almost always end with a fun and fast taught combination to develop retention speed and prepare our students for any audition scenario. 

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P (904)414-6899

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Pop-Up Studio Location:

1515 Sheridan Rd., Wilmette, IL 60091

(Plaza Del Lago - Next to Starbucks)

All main photos unless otherwise credited, were taken and edited by Chloe Hamilton. 

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