It’s back to school season and Teens at LINES is revving up for a novel Fall semester online! With the program’s virtual format, our faculty is excited for the unique opportunity to connect teenage dancers from around the country for deep dives into LINES Ballet’s training philosophy.
While we are eagerly looking ahead at our Fall curriculum, we have also used this time to reflect back on the Teens Program’s history. We recently chatted with alum Jadyn Kerr who is set to begin a new journey as a dance major at UC Irvine later this month. Read on to hear about Jadyn’s Teens at LINES experience and how it prepared her for her next steps.
Why do you dance?
Since I was little, I always loved to move and perform. Fortunately, I knew what I was passionate about at a very young age. Dance brings a joy into my life that nothing else has ever given me. When I perform, I feel like I’m on top of the world. The music rushing through my veins, the bright lights lighting up the stage, the rush of excitement, everything. Absolute pure joy. The dance studio is where I truly feel at home and like I can be my true, authentic self.
How would you describe your experience in the Teens Program at LINES in 3 words?
Creation, exploration, growth.
What is the best piece of advice that you received from a faculty member?
In my first year training at LINES, I was told to “speak your own truth” when you dance in order to help discover your artistic voice. This really resonated with me and since then I have brought this idea into every class. I feel like it has especially helped me become the artist and dancer I am today.
What was your experience taking ballet and contemporary at LINES? Was there a different approach that stood out to you?
We all know the importance of strong technique as a foundation for all of dance and the LINES faculty are among the best at helping instill that technique. However, the thing I appreciated the most was that LINES teaches beyond the technique. Rather than dictating that there was only one precise way to do a step, we were taught to look into the “how” and “why”. We focused a lot on the space and air around us and how to move through it.
Before coming to LINES, I had never encountered this approach; it was all very new to me. It was a little surprising, but it intrigued me. It lets the dancer go beyond the surface level and really delve into the technique, which then also helped us improve our artistry. After just a couple months, I began to see a lot of growth in my own dancing and saw exactly how impactful the examination into technique had been for me.
What did you learn in Choreo-LAB? How has it changed the way you look at movement?
Choreo-LAB was incredibly helpful to me in learning more about the choreographic and artistic processes. Katie Roy, Choreo-LAB’s instructor and a LINES Ballet Trainee Program alum, allowed us to delve deeper into our artistry and movement styles by forcing us to step out of our comfort zones. One of the approaches we took to investigate movement was to come up with phrases based on our bedrooms at home. It makes you consider how your environment influences the movements you create. Her exercises also showed us that anything can be used as inspiration for dance. It also taught us the importance of collaboration as we learned each other’s phrases and worked together to create full pieces that we were able to perform.
Do you have a favorite memory from your time in the program?
One of my favorite memories from the Teens at LINES program was when the Choreo-LAB class performed at PUSHFest in San Francisco. I’ve always loved the performance aspect of dance and this gave us the opportunity to showcase what we’d been working on. This particular event had a wide range of dance groups that each had very distinct styles and aesthetics. I loved being surrounded by these creative artists and being inspired by their artistry and movement styles.
Was there a moment in the program that challenged you to consider dance, technique or your artistry in a new way?
I used to struggle with improvisation – how to create spontaneously and not have it consist of only repetitive movements. During contemporary with Victor Talledos, while working on improv, he gave us prompts to help us better define our range of movement. This helped us push our personal boundaries and step outside our comfort zones, while also increasing our movement vocabulary and openness to new ideas. Now when I do improv, I feel like I have a toolbox to draw from and am no longer intimidated by the process.
Did your experience in the program prepare you to audition and pursue dance in higher education?
The Teens at LINES program definitely helped me prepare me for both. The college application process can feel so daunting. It was nice to know that I had the support of the LINES faculty. They were an invaluable resource for me along the way. They told me what to expect at auditions, and gave me tips and advice for presenting my best self. I was also able to get independent help from Victor Talledos with preparing my contemporary solo needed for college auditions. I truly could not have done it without them and others at LINES Dance Center.
As an artist, what is it you want to express or explore?
I love to tell stories through my movement. Whether it is in my own choreography or something I learned from another artist, it is always my goal to convey some sort of storyline. Even when a specific story is not given to me in the choreography, I like to explore the movement quality and overall feeling of the piece and try to create a narrative for me to pursue.
What advice would you give to a younger dancer?
When I was younger, I used to compare myself to other dancers quite frequently. The biggest piece of advice I could give is to only worry about your own personal growth. Worrying about how you stack up to others is only going to hurt your self-confidence. Instead, think about what you can do to improve. Think about what you struggled with last class and how you are going to change that. Listen to everything the teacher is saying, take it in, and absorb it.
What’s next for you?
I will be attending the University of California, Irvine as a dance major and digital art minor where I will further my dance training and prepare myself for the professional dance industry.
Photos: © Chris Hardy; Rob Kunkle | Good Lux Photography
TEENS AT LINES:
Refine Your Technique. Empower Your Artistry.
Based in ballet and contemporary training, the Teens Program offers three levels of training for young artists ages 11-17. In light of shelter-in-place mandate in San Francisco, the Teens Program will take place online this Fall. Registration for the Fall semester is now open and classes begin September 12!
Click here for more information.