With “Alive” by Lil Jon blasting out of the speakers, Devin Woolridge began his hip hop choreography, packed with sharp movements.
Woolridge taught this choreography this past Saturday at a dance workshop in the Modern dance studio. Woolridge, a choreographer based in Boston, Mass. with extensive dance experience, has competed in the “Hip Hop International” competition and on the TV show “America’s Best Dance Crew.”
Michelangelo Neff ’19, who attended the workshop, said,“Woolridge’s choreography was very fast and energetic, and required a lot of precision. You had to move really quickly from step to step and there was no room to be lazy or sloppy.”
Elizabeth Jancsy, Teaching Fellow in Theatre and Dance, helped coordinate the workshop. Jancsy has been a part of a group Woolridge choreographed for in the past.
“I have learned from Devin, but I don’t teach like Devin. Obviously, everyone has their own style that they come up with based on the dance teachers they’ve had in the past. I think it’s great that we can have new dance teachers come in and everyone can adapt their style to the styles their teachers have,” said Jancsy.
According to workshop participant Aliesha Jordan ’19, Woolridge encouraged participants that even if they messed up the choreography, the most important part was to just keep on dancing.
“When we performed in the middle and everyone watched from the sidelines, we didn’t have a sense of insecurity, because we had all just learned the dance. I think it was a very supportive environment. Even if we all lost the choreography at some point, we all continued moving and didn’t freeze up,” said Jordan.
According to Woolridge, his style of choreography centers around the strong, percussive beat of the music.
“I look for the aggressiveness in the beat. You want the audience to feel the music. You don’t want to the audience just hear the rapper singing the lyrics, you want them to feel like they need to start moving,” he said.
Woolridge’s method of choreographing starts by listening to the music and experimenting with different combinations of moves. He likes to test out different patterns of movement before settling on one final pattern.
“I choreograph by listening to a piece of music and freestyling to it. Whatever I pick up from the freestyle that I think looks good, I then put in my dance. Choreographing is like a puzzle. All the pieces are out and you have to put them together to make everything fit,” said Woolridge.
Woolridge ultimately believes that he has learned from his students. His style as a choreographer has grown and been challenged by each new student he has taught.
“You see what your students do and learn from them in the process. I would figure out what was or wasn’t working with the choreography and improve it from there. I like to go to other places to branch out and teach new people. Teachers won’t admit it, but it is your students that help you grow and become better at what you do,” said Woolridge.