Can virtual dance corrections improve your technique?

Can virtual dance corrections improve your technique?
Dance Informa Magazine
5/2015

While technology, social media, and the Internet have allowed for greater communication and distribution of ideas, they have also hindered personal human interaction and experience in everyday life. However, dance expert Bob Rizzo, has taken advantage of these tech tools with a mission to coach and advise aspiring professional dancers. Rizzo has done it all—from directing and choreographing for television and live theatre to teaching at some of the leading dance studios including Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway. His company, Riz-Biz Productions has produced over seventy-five instructional dance videos covering Jazz, Tap, Ballet, Lyrical, Hip Hop, and Swing. Rizzo’s website, thedancecoach.com serves as the logical (and rather genius) next step in his vocation as, well, The Dance Coach. Dance Informa was fortunate to interview The Dance Coach himself about his innovative website and his vision for the future.

What advice or knowledge do you wish you’d had as a young dancer?

“It would have been nice to be able to get more specific and personalized information on preparing for a professional career in musical theatre. When I was in my teens, and lived away from NYC, I only had limited local resources available to me. While in high school I performed in the choir and musicals, and I also did community theatre, but there were very few people who had worked professionally to guide me on to the next step.

Nowadays with the advent of the Internet age, young aspiring performers can get a variety of information just by going to Google. They can now find where to study dance, acting and singing in their area, as well as search for summer intensives and auditions both near and far.”

Describe your website, thedancecoach.com.

“The Dance Coach was designed to give professional feedback and advice for dancers considering a professional career. It also provides a service for any dancer looking for feedback on a dance routine that they would like evaluated. Perhaps they’re going to enter a dance competition and they want some tips on how to improve their technique and/or performance, as well as their choreography. Dancers that are submitting audition videos to colleges or summer intensives can also use this service to help them refine their work before submitting it to others.

The website also caters to teachers and choreographers who can take advantage of the same services. They may want another opinion or some tips on routines and choreography that they are preparing for competition or a performance.

The Dance Coach also offers a phone and Skype service to discuss dance career goals, college choices, or making a move to a larger city. Parents have also found this service advantageous by speaking with a professional who can help to assess their child’s talent and learn about career opportunities.

You can also schedule a session for a private, one-on-one coaching in a studio.”

What services do you provide and why are they unique?

“At present thedancecoach.com is offering three distinctive services:

1) Recorded video review. This is where the dancer or teacher would upload their video to the website for review. After viewing the routine several times, I’ll do my critique and then contact the dancer to let them know that their review is ready and send them a link. They’ll receive a complete comprehensive review with me speaking over their routine, giving corrections with drawing tools, putting it in slow motion to show common mistakes, and even put it in reverse.

What’s unique about this particular service is that the critique is not done in real time like dancers are used to getting from competitions. I have the ability to stop the routine and continue speaking over the image to give a more detailed review and what the dancer needs to work on to perfect their work. So instead of getting a tape back (from a competition) with a 2-½ minute critique, my feedback will be much longer and personalized.

Because this is a ‘virtual’ service, it’s also a very cost-effective way for dancers and teachers to get their feedback. It eliminates the costs of hotel, transportation, and additional expenses to bring someone like myself into their own studio to essentially do the same thing.

2) Career Coaching Phone Call. This service allows you to speak one-on-one with me over the phone or Skype to discuss your dance career goals. I can offer professional career guidance based on your interests and aspirations, as well as suggestions for additional education, including workshops, internships and job-shadow opportunities.

I can also teach you how to prepare yourself for auditions, and how to market yourself to reach your fullest potential within the entertainment industry.

3) NYC Studio Experience. If you’re going to be in New York City, you can schedule a time for a private coaching in a dance studio! During this time you have the advantage of not only speaking about your goals, but you’ll also have the opportunity to dance and get personal one-on-one feedback and corrections on your work.”

What prompted you to found The Dance Coach?

“I was confident that the service would be beneficial for aspiring dancers and choreographers. Aside from teaching in NYC for over 25 years, I’ve also taught at numerous dance conventions and competitions. In my travels I met many young dancers who didn’t have access to professional career guidance. They may have come from great dance studios with excellent training, but their teachers may not have had a professional background to give them the resources or tools to take them to the next level. I was often brought into studios to give master classes, and I also worked one-on-one with the few who were considering a dance career. Aside from giving them technical advice, I would advise them on how to prepare for a move to NYC or LA. What they would need to think about in terms of housing, costs, training, auditions, studios, etc. I could also give them guidance on selecting a college that would be most suited for their unique individual goals.

I also find that by utilizing the services of The Dance Coach, I’m able to give them an honest and frank critique. There is not the added pressure of winning a trophy or a title, so this service gives the dancer a more personal and practical evaluation. With that being said, I am also nurturing and supportive of any student, teacher or parent who use the services. It’s not only about what might be wrong, or needs work, but also about what IS working.”

You’ve produced over seventy-five instructional dance DVDs in the past.  Would you consider The Dance Coach to be “the next step” in instructional dance training?

“I see The Dance Coach as a modern and innovative way to virtually enhance the dancer’s existing technique. It offers solid advice to further refine and finesse both technique and performance that can only be given on a one-on-one basis.”

Who is your target audience?

“The demographic for the site is quite wide. Dancers, teachers, choreographers, and parents have all taken advantage of its services. As I mentioned earlier, they can use the site for a routine review or for career coaching if they are serious about pursuing dance as a career.

Parents that have used the career-coaching phone call option wanted to discuss their child’s ambitions. They requested information and general guidance on what they could be doing locally to prepare their child before they leave home to embark on a professional dance career.”

What trends are you noticing (positive and/or negative) among this generation of young dancers in terms of technique, training, auditioning, performing, etc.?

“It’s nice to see that more young dancers are taking ballet seriously. There was a time recently where the contemporary classes took precedent, but I think dancers are now seeing the value in having a strong ballet foundation that will only compliment the contemporary or jazz training, which may be where their passion lies.

I think one of the most difficult things dancers face today is trying to stay focused. With all the social media and cell phone availability it’s easy to be distracted and not fully concentrate on the audition you’re in or the class you are taking. Going to check your cell phone at anytime during an audition, or in the middle of a class really shows disrespect to the director or a teacher of a class. It also takes you, the dancer; outside of the very place you’re striving work in. Outside of an emergency there’s nothing that can’t wait an hour or so to be taken care of.”

What are your goals or vision for the future of The Dance Coach?

“I hope it becomes an indispensable tool to help young dancers advance in their field and help further their career opportunities. To also give them the professional advice and support that was not so readily available in the past.”

You can visit The Dance Coach at: www.thedancecoach.com.

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