“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!
Spring 2017 Teaching Schedule
Open Level House co taught with Dani Tirrell
First 3 Thursdays of the month 8-9:30 pm
Fourth Thursday of the month 7-8 pm followed by Open Session 8-10 pm
Rhythm is a Dancer | Sundays 6:30-8 pm starting back up first week of April 2017
(continue to check Sweat Spot website)
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 explore all kinds of music that is purposefully curated for each class.
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 sequences or 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. Amy first saw members of Circle of Fire crew dancing House in the clubs in Seattle over a decade ago. Her first House teacher was Sekou Heru in NYC.
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 participates in Hip Hop and House dance culture and brings in the philosophies and values of this culture into her teaching. She has also been inspired by the teaching methods of Emio Greco, David Zambrano, Kathleen Hermesdorf, Crystal Pite, Ohad Naharin, Wade Madsen, Rennie Harris, and Eric Pranzarone.
Street and Club Dance Styles (for colleges and universities)
Amy is passionate about spreading knowledge about the history and cultural contexts of dances that often get lumped into a category called Hip Hop dance, when Hip Hop dance itself is very specific and often misrepresented or misunderstood. This course teaches students the differences between Hip Hop party dances, Breaking, Popping, Locking, LA Style or Commercial Style, Street Jazz, House, Vogue, Waacking and several other regionally specific styles that have gained momentum over the past decade such as Krump, Turfin, FLXN, Chicago Footwork, Memphis Jookin, and more. Amy brings in the local expert practitioners of each of the styles covered to share their stories in the dance, teach the fundamentals of the style, and talk about why the style exists. Amy facilitates dialogue and acts as a dance translator for those who come from a different background so that the culture can be more deeply respected and understood. Amy taught this course at Mills College in Oakland CA in Fall of 2015 and the University of Washington Dance Department winter quarter 2017. Amy’s entry point into Hip Hop culture were the party dances of the 80’s and 90’s that she learned from friends at school, birthday parties, watching music videos, and sneaking out to clubs. She knew she was a dancer in social dance settings more than in Ballet or Modern class. For 17 years, her work as a dance artist has combined aspects of the social dances of her childhood with the formalism of contemporary performance.
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.
The Lec Dem
Amy O is available to speak about living and working as a dance 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