Kyle Van Newkirk’s Advice On Bringing Tap Into The 21st Century
Kyle Van Newkirk is a tap dancer you probably remember from the premiere season of NBC's World of Dance. In case you missed it, he is also one of Showstopper's incredible convention teachers. What makes Kyle stand apart from some of today's other incredible tappers? He isn't afraid to change what tap means to his audience and even himself. This modern view of tap dancing is important because it shows us that tap dancers are just as versatile and dynamic as dancers of any other genre. We sat down with Kyle to get his advice on bringing tap dancing into the 21st century.
Focus On Musicality
One of the things that Kyle believes changes tap is how people use it to interact with music. This means interacting with every facet of the songs you choose to dance to from the meaning to the lyrics to the many components of the instrumental part of the track. Obviously, this leaves a dancer with an infinite amount of possibilities for each song they choose to work with. Where do you aim your focus? Well, Kyle chooses to focus on the lyrics, and he uses them to guide him as he chooses other rhythms in the song to highlight. This is because he thinks it is important to pay homage to the musician that created the song you are working with. Think of it as a collaboration between you and the artist. Lyrics and rhythms come together in song. They should come together in tap as well.
Improvise and Blend
An important element of modern tap is improvisation. This allows tap dancers to bring unexpected elements into their choreography which makes it more interesting. This is not new, though. If you look through the history of tap dancing, you will find that many of the moves we consider standardized today were and still are greatly varied depending on your location and culture. Kyle specifically prefers to blend his tap with elements influenced by hip hop and other urban genres of dance. However, watching Kyle dance, you would not say that he is hip-hop dancing. It is undeniably tap.
Don't Be Afraid To Move
Kyle encourages dancers to remember that even though you should branch out and explore different methods of blending your tap technique with elements from other genres, you should not forget to practice basic elements of tap. It is important to keep your base strong. Slipping into loser versions of standard technique to be unique can be cool, but if you do not maintain the roots of tap, your style will suffer because your basic movements will be sloppy.
Make It Your Own
Throw in splashes of other things to develop your own style. Tap isn't all feet. You can learn how to use and incorporate props, your body, and anything you can think of to enhance the rhythms and stories you are sharing. This isn't a simple process. You won't be able to figure out one hand movement or the intricacies of balancing one prop in a day, and it will take even longer than that to understand how one movement or prop can support and enhance your style. Don't get discouraged! Style takes work. Every risk you take is a chance for you to expand your ability to express yourself and a step toward developing a style that is your own.
"EXPLORE MORE. DON'T BE AFRAID TO STEP OUT OF THE BOX WITH TAP."
Kyle Van Newkirk is an award-winning choreographer, performer, and teacher from Nebraska. Recently he competed in NBC's World of Dance. He has also performed with the Dizzy Feet Foundation, National Tap Dance day as a soloist, in his own one-man show "Tappin n Time," and as a soloist at the IDO World Gala. Along with this Kyle has won numerous awards including World Champion of Tap. When he isn't choreographing his latest masterpiece or performing on stages around the world, Kyle can be found teaching at Showstopper's dance conventions.
By Veronica Good, Writer for Showstopper VIP
Come dance with Kyle and the rest of Showstopper's incredible dance instructors at one of their 2018-19 Dance Conventions! Registration is now open!
Orlando, FL - September 28-30, 2018
Wisconsin Dells, WI - October 13-14, 2018
Sandusky, OH - October 20-21, 2018
Grapevine, TX - November 2-4, 2018
Houston, TX - November 17-18, 2018
Myrtle Beach, SC - January 18-20, 2019
Register at www.goshowstopper.com/register-convention/
This week, over 1,000 young hopefuls gathered in New York City for the Youth America Grand Prix finals, giving them the chance to compete for scholarships and contracts to some of the world's top ballet schools and companies. Roughly 85 dancers made it to the final round at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater on Wednesday. Today, the 20th anniversary of YAGP came to a close at the competition's awards ceremony. Read on to find out who won!
In her senior year at Butler University, Jennifer Sydor auditioned for more than a dozen regional ballet companies—and got a string of "no, thank you" responses. "I have an athletic build, and my movement quality isn't the typical ballet aesthetic," Sydor says. "But I'd been laser-focused on ballet. When I didn't get a ballet contract, I was heartbroken."
Her one job offer came from Kim Robards Dance, a small modern company based in Aurora, CO. After attending KRD's summer intensive, Sydor ended up accepting a yearlong position with the troupe. "I was relieved and happy to begin my career," she says. She's been working as a contemporary dancer ever since.
In the dance world, rejection is part of the package. That doesn't make it any more pleasant. But whether you didn't get the Nutcracker role of your dreams or you weren't picked for a job despite feeling like you aced the audition, you can emerge from even the most gut-wrenching "no" smarter and stronger.
Guess who's baaaaack?! Your resident Dance Spirit astrologers! And on the eve of the Youth America Grand Prix awards ceremony, we thought it was the perfect time to pair each zodiac sign with a variation commonly seen during the competition. After many painstaking hours spent researching, consulting the stars, and staring wistfully into the sky, we compiled our data and present you with the definitive list of each star sign as a YAGP variation! As we said last time, don't @ us if you're not happy with your pairing—the stars don't lie, baby!