The Paw Print

Going to Dance Class with Val: Ben Faustino and Michelle Griffith

Story by Valeria Munoz, Copy Editor

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On Saturday Feb. 13, 2016, Michelle Griffith and Ben Faustino of the GRV dance crew from Los Angeles, taught two classes at U4ria Dance Studio in Coconut Creek. Although they currently train in Los Angeles, Griffith and Faustino built up their technique and performance skills in South Florida. They were a part of U4ria Dance Company and even performed at various award shows in Miami, such as Premios Lo Nuestro and Premios Juventud dancing alongside musicians Chino y Nacho and Abraham Mateo. Faustino now teaches at Snowglobe Perspective, a popular dance studio in California.

Griffith was a part of the dance crew MissTaken along with the World of Dance hostess and choreographer, Megan Batoon. Faustino has choreographed for artists like Jake Miller and was featured in music videos as well as television shows such as La Voz, a spin-off of The Voice. Now, they are both members of GRV Crew, a massive dance crew created by choreographers and former Mos Wanted Crew members, Jawn Ha and Bam Martin. GRV has placed first and second interchangeably at a variety of World of Dance events.

I had the pleasure of taking a dance class from both of them. Before class started, Ben Faustino warned me that he didn’t teach the same way as before compared to before his move to LA, when he taught at my local dance studio while learning the choreography I realized what he meant. His dance style has evolved into more complex steps and faster execution. A dancer learns by taking class and absorbing other choreographer styles as well as stepping out of their comfort zones; Faustino has achieved that and more. His choreography has always been innovative, but he has reinvented his dance style while still keeping elements of his old style. The level changes are still prominent but there is a combination of textures throughout his choreography, and there is only a split second pause to catch your breath. His objective is to build stamina and build up a dancer’s momentum during the piece.  Faustino’s key to improving in dance is to “keep pushing yourself.”

“Dancing fast doesn’t mean to keep your movements small but rather the exact opposite. The challenge is to dance big,” said Faustino.

Griffith taught a dance created by her and two other members of GRV during their choreography project week. The hardest part was switching up the tempo or speed of the steps throughout the piece in order for people to see the difference in movements. Therefore, certain steps had to be quick and sharp while others had a greater effect executed with minimal force.

Another tip Griffith gave was to “dance on your toes” as it makes you “lighter and faster.” Considering the choreography had spins, dancing on your toes was the safest tactic for one’s performance and overall health as putting pressure and weight on one’s heels can result in ankle pain and stress on one’s Achilles tendon. Also if the floor is too slippery, which can be the case in some studios, rub the bottom of your shoe to create friction but just remember to avoid placing your hand on your face afterwards due to hygiene.

“Right now you guys are doing the moves, you got the moves down but I need you to dance and stop focusing on a certain step. You can take this home and practice it and get the move tomorrow. You might get it and then think ‘Aww man no one is here to see it.’ But right now the most important thing is that you have fun,” Griffith said at the end of class.

By dancing big and extending your movements one can project and engage the audience more while performing quick steps. Griffith and Faustino have proven that determination and hard work as well as the evolution of one’s skills pave the way for success in the dance industry.

vmunoz.pawprint@gmail.com

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