Members of the Gulliver Middle and Upper School dance programs came together for a full day of professional dance workshops on January 16 as four highly-regarded dance instructors visited the Prep campus for the seventh annual Professional Exposure Day. Prep Dance Director Gerri Barreras began this program to introduce students to professional dance instructors within the South Florida community, with the aim to inspire them to articulate their perceptions of dance.
This year’s group of guest instructors were selected with the Prep dance program’s 2018-19 theme of acceptance in mind. “Each year the dance department adopts a theme for the year, and today’s experience really tied into this year’s theme,” said sophomore Andrea Gil. “With the different genres and how the teachers explained their own version of acceptance; it opens up your mind to the different types of acceptance.”
First up was Emotional Connection with Kim Alexander, where students were encouraged to focus on using their emotions to execute choreography, as opposed to striving for perfection with each move. “Today is important because as young females, we need to learn to accept who we are and empower each other and the women around us,” said Alexander, who has performed and worked with choreographers Dan Karaty and Ray Leeper from the hit show “So You Think You Can Dance. “[Through dance] you can make your movements acceptable in your own ways, and make it work for you.”
Next up was Dancing with Disabilities with Kate Brennen, where performers paired up and learned to get creative and push through limitations. Brennen, a clinical social worker who has combined her profession with her love for dance, teaches dance to high school students with special needs and maintains her private mental health/dance therapy practice serving clients in New York City and Miami.
Acceptance with Stephanie Mas ‘06 kicked off the afternoon session, where dancers were taught an emotional, jazz/modern combo. “My favorite part of today was Stephanie Mas’ class because we got to explore new movement, and move in different ways,” said student Sofia Amaro. “It’s also cool to see how someone who went to Gulliver has continued her dance career. It’s inspiring.”
Throughout her career, Mas has worked alongside musical artists and can be seen in commercials, television shows and several feature films. The former Sundancer dance team captain has taught all over South Florida, is the creative director and founder of Mas Creative Media, LLC, and is currently serving in her fifth season as the University of Miami Sunsations dance team head coach.
The day concluded with Tawanna Hall-Charlton Returning to Professional Exposure Day for the second-straight year, Hall-Charlton boasts an impressive resume, having worked extensively with artists such as P. Diddy, Missy Elliot, Usher and Justin Timberlake. Hall-Charlton, who says she accepts students where they are and asks them to “dance in the moment,” inspired junior Amanda Gonzalez. “I love how much energy and style she brings in,” she said.