“I got to see Amy O’Neal teach at Velocity Dance Center during my visit last weekend. Wow! She’s a wild woman—but also grounded. In the improv warmup, she gave funny/wise instruction. When balancing on one leg, she said, “When you feel yourself losing your balance, transform the struggle to the other side.” Transform the struggle. She taught a phrase that was a true hybrid: modern dance swoops sprinkled with ballet attitude turns and a touch of popping and locking. But more than that, it had the imprint of an original point of view.”
Wendy Perron, Editor in Chief, Dance Magazine
After 15 years of teaching at Velocity Dance Center in Seattle, Amy is moving on to new things. Stay tuned for special workshops and special teaching engagements coming up!
Fall 2016 Teaching Schedule
Rhythm is a Dancer | Sundays 6:30-8 pm
Sept 11- mid December (continue to check Sweat Spot website)
****2 special Saturday workshops workshops at The Sweat Spot!****
90’s Throwback Dance Party
Saturday October 22 1-3 pm
Saturday November 19 1-3 pm
Description: The cabbage patch, the running man, the prep, the whop, the rogger rabbit, the reebok, the party machine…..just a few of the popular party/social dances from the 90’s that some of us may have grown up with. Like many people born in the late 70’s who did not grow up in the Bronx or LA, these dances were Amy O’s entry point into Hip Hop culture. These dances partially helped to bring Hip Hop culture to the mainstream. We will talk about the complexity of this. Come learn a bit about this history and a list of these steps from this time period as we jam to tracks from the golden age of Hip Hop music.
Descriptions of Classes and Workshops taught by Amy O.
These classes can be configured to suit any situation, level of experience, or time frame. They can be taught as weekly classes, one of workshops, or a special set series.
Rhythm is a Dancer
What is your personal relationship to rhythm? Is it natural? Is it forced? Are you a slave to it? Do you desire a deeper connection to it? Rhythm is a Dancer aims to bring all kinds of dancers together from different styles, levels of experience, and cultural backgrounds. The class is a facilitated freestyle exploration of concepts designed to challenge your own personal relationship to music and rhythm. Whether you want to get better at picking up choreography in class, get out of a freestyle rut, be a better dancer at the club, bring something new to the cypher, or simply get better at dancing to the beat. This class is all about how to feel and shape time. We will explore various attitudes around dancing to music in different cultures to further understand our own biases and personal blocks, to potentially open us up to a new perspective. We will also get down and dance together.
Contemporary Dance Technique
A thorough and focused class for the curious tapping into the body’s innate stability and movement patterns. A simple and effective warm-up to build connection, strength, and awareness is followed by improvisation work with imagery and technical play. Phrase work focuses on musicality, attention to detail, and challenging ideas of aesthetics. The container if Contemporary dance is broad and constantly evolving. Deepen your ability to commit to the ever changing moment. For over a decade, Amy O has been known for mixing and sampling in her dance vocabulary to create a unique and true language of her physical experience. She is inspired by Hip Hop, classicism, club dance forms, Japanese traditional forms, African traditional forms, codified Modern forms, and the teaching methods of Emio Greco, David Zambrano, Kathleen Hermesdorf, Crystal Pite, Ohad Naharin, Wade Madsen, Rennie Harris, and Eric Pranzarone.
Street Dance Styles
Amy has been teaching this class for over a decade and it was one of the most popular classes at Velocity Dance Center in Seattle. Learn the stylistic and cultural differences between Hip Hop (which is Breaking, Popping, Locking, and Party Dances), House, Vogue, Whacking, Commercial Hip Hop, Street Jazz, and Amy’s signature amalgam of all of these things. If this class is taught weekly, each month we focus on a different style so you get an opportunity to learn basic foundations of the styles, choreography, and freestyle methods. Warm-up consists of dynamic stability exercises, isolations, rocking, bouncing, free-styling, and learning to feel the music. Amy is an energetic and charismatic teacher who believes creativity is a birthright. She is passionate about empowering people to be in their body and own their uniqueness. This is an open level class geared toward the majority of the participants. Please wear sneakers where you can feel your feet in the floor and comfortable clothes that make you feel good.
Is a social dance primarily danced to House music that has roots in the clubs in Chicago and of New York. The main elements of House dance include Footwork, Jacking and Lofting. House dance is influenced by many cultures and styles, is improvisational in nature and emphasizes fast and complex footwork with fluid movements in the torso, as well as floor work. In this class we will drill basic House vocabulary, play with rhythm, vibe off each other in the cypher, and sometimes learn choreography. Amy is inspired by the House dancing and teaching of Sekou Heru, Marjory Smarth, Dani Tirell, Caleaf Sellars, Tsunami Amii Nixon, Free Vergara, and Dufon Smith.
Dance Composition and Improvisation
Amy O has been teaching composition and improvisation for over a decade to all levels and ages of experience. She is passionate about empowering her students to connect to their innate ability to create. Her methods are inspired by a wide range of influence and practice that span a 20 year professional career. Some people and methods who have directly inspired how she teaches this class are David Dorfman, Pat Graney, Crystal Pite, Tere O’Connor, Kathleen Hermesdorf, Bebe Miller, Onye Ozuzu, Molly Scott, Rennie Harris, Hip Hop culture and the cypher, dancing in clubs, being the lead singer of a band, and 20 years of collaborating with musicians in her performance work. She was the co-founder of The Young Choreographer’s Lab produced by Seattle Theater Group, which merged with Velocity Dance Center to form the Seattle Youth Dance Collective where she developed programming and mentored ages 14-21 in the development of their personal choreographic voice. She continues to teach this class to all ages and all levels of experience.
One off workshop:
Cultural Appropriation vs Cultural Exchange
This one off workshop is a facilitated dialogue/improvisational movement workshop designed to address this complex and very important topic in regards to creativity and personal expression. Where are the lines between being inspired and being imperialistic? What is the difference between having power and sharing power? How do we actively love and respect a creative expression from a culture you cannot fully claim as your own? How do we actively give back what we receive from the cultures we take from? We will address these questions and respond to who is in the room. Since 2011, Amy’s performance work has directly dealt with these questions. More and more she is being called upon as an educator to be a translator between the worlds of Contemporary dance and Street and Club dance. She has first hand knowledge of what if feels like to appropriate and what it’s like to do the work not to.
The Lec Dem
Amy O is available to speak about living and working as a female artist. She enjoys sharing her process and can screen her dance films, performance documentation, or perform a short solo. She has been a guest on many discussion panels over the years and enjoys engaging in dialogue around issues in the field.
Past Teaching Residencies, Workshops and Lectures
Spoleto Festival USA (Charelston)
Mills College (Oakland)
University of California Berkeley
50 Cent Tabernacle at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco)
Broadway Dance Center (New York City)
NYU Playwright’s Horizon School (New York City)
100 Grand (New York City)
DUOMO Space (New York City)
Ryan Heffington’s The Sweat Spot (Los Angeles)
University of Hawaii (Hilo)
Maui Arts and Cultural Center (Kahului)
Kahilu Theater (Waimea)
Okinawa Prefectural Museum (Okinawa, Japan)
ProDanza Italia (Castigliencello, Italy)
Reed College (Portland OR)
Florida State College (Jacksonville)
Grand Valley State University (Michigan)
University of Washington
Cornish College of the Arts (Seattle)
Washington University (St. Louis)
University of Idaho
Idaho State University
University of Montana
Texas Women’s University (Denton)
University of Oregon
Northwest Vista College (San Antonio)
Dance New Amsterdam (NYC)
STG Presents: Dance This (Seattle)
Velocity Dance Center’s Strictly Seattle
The Young Choreographer’s Lab and Seattle Youth Dance Collective