You know those dance workshops where you could have stayed in bed and learned about as much as you did by going to class? Or, at the very least, the sleep would have been a better use of your time?
The High Society Meetup was NOT that kind of workshop. In fact, it was hands-down the best workshop I have ever attended. I learned something from every single class, even considering the skewed lead-follow ratio and wide range of skill levels which frequently challenge other workshops and classes. I am more inspired to work on my dancing than I have ever felt after a workshop before! (And usually, I experience the opposite effect, haha!)
First off, the instruction was fantastic. I mean, I’ve always heard that Peter and Naomi are incredible, but I’d never been able to take their classes before. . I particularly liked Peter’s tendency to call people out on their shit — “No, that was wrong.” Similarly, Peter & Naomi were incredibly flexible, and that was a huge bonus. For example, the first class was supposed to be about hitting the breaks; instead, we worked on swingouts, pulse, and connection — because honestly, that is what we needed if we were going to get anything done that weekend. To make it particularly worthwhile, both Peter and Naomi gave a 30-second private on swingouts with every single student — and in all honesty, those 30 seconds rocked my world, and I’m sure I’ll never dance the same again. Moreover, Peter and Naomi were easily able to navigate the 2:1 (and sometimes higher) follow-lead ratio so that I barely even noticed the imbalance other than to laugh.
Two of my favorite classes were the solo jazz classes — and they were done so well! Peter started us off on Thursday with a lesson on different solo jazz moves; while most people knew these moves, he really worked on refining the technique and the movements themselves. I loved the tap-based version of the Suzie Q’s, which make me feel so much more grounded and on beat. To follow up, Naomi gave a class on Sunday on how to improvise solo jazz. While I was initially intimidated by the subject of the class, Naomi made it easy and fun. I won’t give away the entire class, as you should really take it from her, but it ended with a game of “telephone” for dancing.
TELEPHONE. Best game ever! Let’s explain the rules.
- All dancers face one direction in a single file line, so that the person who starts the game is looking at everyone else’s backs. The first person comes up with a single eight-count sequence which s/he will be able to remember later (or more, depending on skill level).
- The first person taps the second on the shoulder and shows him / her the eight-count sequence. Dancer #2 can only see the sequence ONCE, and only gets a few (SHORT) moments to process it before repeating it to the next person in line.
- Repeat until the end of the line. Once the last person has seen the sequence, s/he performs their interpretation of the sequence and compare it to the original.
A few words on some parts of the event I found particularly fantastic and / or unique:
- It was casual, simple, and laid-back.
- There was only one late night, and it only went until 2:30 am; this allowed me to practice but keep rested. For a larger event I would probably want one more late night, at least, but I think it was good for this particular workshop.
- I enjoyed that the instructor list was incredibly limited, but also incredibly fantastic; this gave me a chance to really drill and practice the concepts that Peter and Naomi were pushing, rather than receiving different ideas of what to focus on from every different instructor (not conflicting, but different).
- I also really enjoyed the small size of the workshop — for while I love huge events where you barely dance with the same person twice, I feel as if I was able to get so much more out of the individual attention and relatively quick pace of the classes.
The only thing that disappointed me about this workshop was the low local attendance. This was an incredibly unique and incredibly affordable workshop! The instruction was fantastic and the atmosphere was more than conducive to learning. And the focus was on intermediate dancers in Atlanta, who are the most vocal about their constant desire for more learning opportunities. So why where there more out-of-town dancers than local?
If anyone is interested, the Atlanta Jazz Dance Preservation Society is planning on hosting up to four workshops a year — and if you’re a member, the discount you receive on these workshops is incredible. For the High Society Meetup, the workshop was $65 for sponsors, no matter if you signed up when it was announced or at the door. Think about this for a moment: if you weren’t a sponsor, the workshop at the door was $90. But if you signed up to be a sponsor right there, the workshop was $65 + $25 = $90 (thus, exactly the same price), and you were also signing up for future discounts at Hotjam and the other three workshops being held this year.If you aren’t a sponsor yet, I really recommend jumping on the band wagon!
I am beyond excited and so inspired about the next workshop to be hosted by AJDPS! While I’m not sure how they’ll follow up after Peter and Naomi, who are fantastic in their own right, I really expect great things!
A side note of awesome: At the end of the workshop, I thanked Peter and Naomi for their teaching the workshop for the weekend. In the conversation with Peter, he told me I was a good student — and this is honestly one of the best compliments I’ve ever received. Just wanted to share.