Step Up Revolution dancer holds a master class for Boca dancers
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Choreographer and performer, Misha Gabriel visited and taught at Dancetown Boca, a local dance studio. The room was jam-packed as thirty dancers ranging from six year olds to twenty year olds stretched while waiting for class to start. Gabriel has acquired quite a lot of credits throughout his dance career from touring with Janet Jackson on her 2.0 YO Tour to co-starring in Step Up Revolution. He has experienced different facets of the dance industry. However stepping into a studio filled with fervent dancers, most of them younger than eighteen, Gabriel was eager to share his knowledge and advice.
He taught an intricate combination to Michael Jacksons’ song “Heartbreaker”. Although the moves weren’t complicated, the timing was the most challenging part of performing the routine. While many choreographers give their students a chance to pause in the choreography for a breather, he emphasized that in this particular routine there was no time to think as every move had to be high energy in order to engage the audience. In fact, dancers practiced the combination as if it were a piece to be performed on tour. Gabriel highlighted the importance of creating visuals throughout the choreography by changing levels and maintaining angles, in order to “make the choreography come to life.”
And of course, a Michael Jackson routine couldn’t be complete without a moonwalk or two. Gabriel kept Jackson’s legacy alive by incorporating his trademark moves such as the jacket flick and gravity defying lean. According to Gabriel, Jackson was thought by people to have a “sharp dance style,” when in fact the steps he did were smooth and only came across as sharp because he changed textures throughout the dance. Another performance strategy, the So You Think You Can Dance choreographer recommended was to keep one’s gaze on the audience.
“Michael always kept a certain look when dancing and you want to keep your eyes in contact with the audience while lowering your head to create that effect,” Gabriel said.
Being a Miami native, Gabriel had some idea of the dance scene down in South Florida. It was clear after the first group of dancers that he was impressed with the amount of talent and professionalism exhibited by the students. While visiting his hometown, Gabriel offered dancers the opportunity to audition for another piece he choreographed. Some of his recent work was featured on Season 13 of So You Think You Can Dance and he also participated in Jump Tour’s Miami tour stop. As for his advice to aspiring dancers, he said:
“Take as many classes as you can in as many different styles that are available.”