Professional advice inspires dance students
A group of some 30 young Peninsula dancers got invaluable insights into the fundamentals of technique as a cornerstone of professional-level performance during two recent technique master classes with South Surrey-raised Cody Green.
Friend and mentor to Nathalie Heath, founder of the new Dance Effect Studio, Green joined her to teach the Aug. 1 classes at Vayusha Yoga's studio, for junior intermediate students (nine-12) and senior intermediate students (13 and up).
The triple-threat performer – also an Earl Marriott grad who became an international award-winner with his mom Susie's Visions Dance Company – is no stranger to the detail-oriented world of professional production.
He has danced in Hollywood (including working with Catherine Zeta Jones in an Oscar night production number), won the grand prize in the Bravo reality show Step It Up And Dance, and sung, danced and acted on Broadway in the Twyla Tharp's Movin' Out and the revival of West Side Story – and most recently in Sir Kenneth Branagh's and Rob Ashford's acclaimed version of Shakespeare's Macbeth in a one-month run in June at New York's Park Avenue Armory.
But he had no hesitation in joining Heath, during a brief visit home, to pass on some of his expertise to a new crop of South Surrey and White Rock talents – and demonstrate fundamental skills they will be working on for the rest of the year in regular classes with Dance Effect .
"They were great," he said, in a post-class conversation.
"They were wide-eyed and a little over-awed at the beginning, but while everyone's at a different level, we're all working toward the same goal of getting better. Ultimately, focusing on working on technique is the best way possible for their growth."
"It brought back loads of memories," said Heath, who trained with Green as a member of the Visions troupe before going on to her own professional career in film and television and as a finalist in So You Think You Can Dance Canada.
"I've missed working with Cody. He doesn't let anyone get away with anything and he has such attention to detail – but Cody also makes you feel totally supported and loved."
"As well as detail, it's also about being committed to learning," Green said.
"If someone's there pushing you to do your best and you're making progress, then everyone's happy – parents are happy and kids are coming out of the studio smiling even if they're tired."
The importance of striving for perfection is something Green said has really struck him about working with Branagh and Ashford.
He feels singularly fortunate to have been part of the original cast of their gritty, muddy, violently bloody reimagining of Macbeth, starring Branagh as the title character and Alex Kingston which was created for last year's Manchester International Festival.
Staged in the intimate confines a de-consecrated church, it quickly became the sold-out hit of the festival. That virtually guaranteed the restaging in New York, where the massive venue enabled an even more epic treatment, and most of the original actors – including Green – were kept on.
Green's relatively small role as MacDuff's messenger was expanded in Branagh and Ashford's interpretation by making him Macbeth's general factotum as well – which Green said created an intriguing character arc for him to work with.
And Green's dedication – and his hard work with a dialect coach – can be heard as he quotes lines in the Scots brogue used in the original Manchester production and slips effortlessly into the standard British 'RP' dialect chosen for the New York restating.
"There was no resting on laurels," he said. "Sir Kenneth is always about making every performance strong, getting more specific. I am so lucky to get to be part of that.
"Even having had a great show the night the night before, the aim was 'let's do it better.' That philosophy was behind everything – and it's the same philosophy that's behind Nathalie's studio."