By Michael Boo
It’s safe to say that many of the close to 300 attendees at WGI’s “Day After” dance clinic with Kate Jablonski were not familiar with her name or her techniques prior to attending the UD Arena event Sunday morning, just hours after the WGI World Class guard Finals was completed. However, judging by the reaction of the dancers during the clinic, and the way they were still resonating with her work and words afterwards, don’t be surprised if her name becomes one of the most spoken names among WGI members.
The founder of the Beyond Words Dance Company in the Chicago area, Jablonski trains dancers aged 10-18 to give them a glimpse at what it’s like to be a professional dancer. (She has recently founded The Kate Jablonski Statement for older dancers.) She is one of the most enthusiastic dance instructors one will ever run into and her magic swept across the floor as the guard members held on every word and manage to learn the intricate and emotionally charged choreography to Florence and the Machine’s “Shake it Off.”
After telling the members how impressed she was with their dedication to their craft, which she witnessed firsthand at the World Class Finals, she put them through an extensive warm-up to loosen their muscles and engage their brains. She then taught the individual moves to “Shake it Off,” explaining each movement by encouraging all to tap into real-life experiences in order to “dig in” to the mood of the song.
After the clinic, while the guard members were still practically vibrating with the energy they took in and the joy of the energy they expended from participating, Jablonski shared some thoughts on the experience.
“I wanted them to feel so proud of what they did and what they accomplished. The ‘Shake it Off’ song is so empowering, it allowed the dancers to drop the baggage of life’s adversity and seemed to resonate with them.
“It’s amazing what great movers they are; even if they’re not classically trained, they are so expressive and understand how the body works and understand that the equipment is an expression of their bodies.”
After the clinic, some of the participants shared their thoughts. Taylor Matthews of Marian Catholic HS mentioned something heard from many of the participants. “I learned how to be more open and vulnerable and less self-conscious.”
Merrily Lyons of Providence HS was impressed with how Jablonski “used a lot of different inverted positions and highlighted a lot of the little musical moments that are typically ignored.” Harlie Dale of New Alliance noted the same thing. “She hit on the little cues as well as the big ones, placing the accents on different counts than we’re used to doing and helping us look at the music in new ways.”
Toni Mansfield of Mayflower stated, “It was inspirational to hear why she dances, what she feels when she dances and how to put the emotion back into dancing. I’m going to employ her teaching techniques.” Randy Federico of Fenix Independent admits to being a relatively new dancer, adding, “I became a better performer…I took a lot more away from this than I thought it would. The clinic is a great way to grow in one’s passion for dancing.”
Jablonski has a last wish for all the guard members.“ I love your energy and your openness and eagerness to learn. Keep on pushing the boundaries.”
All WGI members are encouraged to check out the“Day After Clinic” for 2014. Details will be presented here on wgi.org when they become available.