Sundays are usually slower days. My maximum physical and mental exertion may be a trip to the grocery store during "rush hour" or a hatha flow yoga class. But last Sunday I made it to dance class, because one of my favorite teachers is moving away to pursue a new opportunity in the dance industry. It was one of her last classes in Austin, and I'm going to miss her a bunch. I'll call her K.
K. teaches "jazz funk." Naming dance classes and styles is a lot like describing new music -- the form itself resists labels. It's almost easier to explain it in the negative. Jazz funk is not hip-hop and it's not traditional "jazz." K. likes to call it "sassy." I call it fun. After technique heavy classes like ballet and even some kinds of theatre dance, jazz funk is liberating. It looks different on everyone, depending on your body type, style, training, strength, etc.
So last Sunday I head to jazz funk, and K. treats us to a familiar combination, Fergie's "Here I Come." I love this combo of hers because it's athletic with a huge, can't-miss-it downbeat. It seems fast, but if you really listen to the music, there's lots of time to feel it.
I love new songs that sample old songs. In Fergie's case, it's the Temptations' "Get Ready," which I loved as a kid. When I was 16, I stashed cassettes in the car like Temptations Greatest Hits, the soundtrack to the Big Chill, an Aretha Franklin tape and Gladys Knight and the Pips. (Which is why meeting Gladys Knight in a dance studio in Austin earlier this month turned me to mush.) My Motown obsession was a bit unusual among my peers (though I also had a lot of album rock (Boston, Rush) plus "college music" like R.E.M. and Big Audio Dynamite, which a boyfriend called "Blatant Audio Destruction.") The first time I heard this Fergie song, it made me want to dance.
And last summer, K. rolled out a combination for "Here I Come," and I was hooked. Again. For many reasons, I'll miss K's teaching and her music. So in honor of her new adventure in NYC, I'm rolling out my Top 5 list of favorite songs and combinations from "Jazz Funk 2010 - 2012." In no particular order, they are:
- "Here I Come" (Fergie) - for all the reasons above
- "Rumor Has It" (Adele) - because it gives us a chance to flaunt Broadway sass plus plenty of opportunities to release it all into the floor
- "You da One" (Rihanna) - because it made me a better listener -- not a counter, not a words person -- a dancer who listens
- "Starstruck" (Lady Gaga) - because it made me think "yeah, I can do this."
- "Smooth Criminal" (Michael Jackson) - because it's MJ, and some teachers may think they're "too cool" to dig up old Michael Jackson songs for the teens and college students in their classes -- and K. is above it.
As a good luck parting gift, I want to give K. something she can use in NYC, and as it happens, an opportunity crossed my Inbox earlier this month. Macy's is hosting "It's Your Move Dance Contest" on Facebook to promote Ideology workout and dance clothes. A publicist asked me to write about my favorite songs and talk about the contest. So I checked it out on Facebook, and it looks like fun. You can pick a song, do a dance and upload it to Facebook, where your friends can vote on it. There are five songs free for download. (If I had to pick one for K., it would probably be the last one, "Rising." If I picked one for my Broadway dance pals, it would be "Dreamin'" - ha!) For my time and effort, I may get some Ideology dancewear, which I'm going to gift to K., who will definitely get good use out of it.
Anyway, something else special happened in class on Sunday. I had already put on my shoes and was ready to leave, when one of my classmates, a young girl in pink who I'll call C., asked to do the combination one more time with our teacher in the middle, K. Her mom invited me to join them, and I got to take the floor with two super special dancers. (This is the first time I've ever done this dance with shoes on! A little sticky. I'm usually barefoot or in half-socks.) I think our parting dance is fitting for K. as she heads to an internship in NYC: Here I Come!