Dance Camera West, offers each year. Last year, the panel offered a powerhouse of top choreographers like Maguerite Derricks, Chucky Klapow, and Tyce Diorio. It was a bittersweet event because Chucky kept us all glued to our seats with updates on Michael Jackson's "This is It" tour which he was rehearsing with Kenny Ortega down at the Staples Center. Less than a week later, Michael had passed away. His contribution to dance and choreography is not forgotten as Michael was a huge topic of conversation at this year's panel including Lula Washington, Kim Blank, Chuck Maldonado, and Larry Billman as moderator.
Dance Channel TV and they each brought something exciting to the panel. Lula is a firecracker! I am thrilled to see that modern dance is getting its due in mainstream entertainment and it doesn't get any bigger than James Cameron's Avatar. The challenges presented to Lula were often on the technological side, but she created four wonderful ballets for the movie all while using motion capture. While we didn't get to see those full ballets onscreen, I am hoping Mr. Cameron saves it for the extras on the DVD.
Larry proved to be a terrific moderator for this panel since his vast movie and television choreography knowledge validates the importance of dance in all artistic mediums. He spent years at Disney Live Entertainment and he talked about the cultural significance of the Mouse in dance during the variety show years heyday. The Kids of the Kingdom dancers performed with Anne Margaret, Bob Hope, in front of Presidents, and at the Super Bowl. It was one of the best gigs in the industry at the time. While the landscape has changed, he still believes that Michael Jackson has the most influence on choreography even in 2010. If you are interested in learning more, Larry has a terrific book called Film Choreographers and Dance Directors. (link posted below)
Two important notes also came out of this panel. One involved the importance of mentoring. We lost significant choreographers in the 80's from Michael Bennett to Michael Peters to Bob Fosse. Those great losses also created the "lost" years in dance. There were years without a driving force in dance and innovations in the industry. Each of the choreographers on the panel talked about the importance of teaching and mentoring young dancers who are interested in working behind the scenes in TV and film. As a choreographer in Hollywood, you need to be a producer, a director, and an artist all at once. They don't want to lose the momentum that dance currently has, so they are working hard to raise the next generation in the industry. Finally, the YouTube revolution has also changed the face of dance. For an artist, you can't be one dimensional to succeed, you need to find your place in multimedia. It can be a challenge, but technology is playing an important role in all art forms.
If you missed the panel, check out all of the highlights from Dance Channel TV:
PS LA Dancers: There will be another panel coming up on June 29th at SAG from Career Transitions for Dancers called :