Ask any contemporary or jazz dancer to name a choreographer she wants to work with. (Seriously, ask.) We bet that dancer says Sonya Tayeh.
Although Tayeh has been working as a choreographer for a while, it was her debut on “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 4 that introduced her to the masses. Most recently, she served as the artistic director for the video of Kerli’s single “Tea Party,” and plans to return to “SYTYCD” during Season 7. In between rehearsals with her company, Tayeh Dance, she filled us in on what she’s been up to.
Dance Spirit: Why did you form your own company, Tayeh Dance? Sonya Tayeh: When I moved to L.A. three years ago, I didn’t have an agent and didn’t know what to do with myself. So I invited dancers I admired to do a show with me. I don’t pay my dancers—we don’t have any funding. So it’s more of a family than a company. And we needed a name, so I called it Tayeh Dance. My father passed away when I was young, so this way his name will last forever.
DS: What are you looking for in potential Tayeh Dance members? ST: I want to work with versatile dancers who can find a balance between innovative movement and classical technical ability. Dancers with a strong knowledge of their bodies are timeless.
DS: What’s up next for Tayeh Dance? ST: We’ll be performing a show at Adrenaline Dance Convention’s Nationals in Chicago in July. We’ve never performed a full show anywhere other than L.A., so I’m so excited to pick a program that’ll include all of my favorite pieces. The show is called Favorites.
DS: OK, so tell us about your awesome hair. ST: I never knew my hair would become a phenomenon! I used to have hair down to my butt, then I shaved it all off and was bald for a while. I’ve been growing it out since 2004. I want a silver Mohawk when I’m 60.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Liz Imperio teaching at Hollywood Vibe, Courtesy of Hollywood Vibe
It's an increasingly common scenario: A talented dancer wins big at a competition, is offered an assistantship with a famous faculty member, and ends up leaving her hometown studio to travel with a convention. Convention-hopping has obvious benefits. Every event generates new content for dancers to post on social media, gives them a better shot at ending up on their favorite choreographers' accounts, lets them learn from the best of the best, and helps them make valuable connections. "Traveling is a great way for dancers to gain admirers around the country," says Jen Jarnot, owner of Artistic Fusion Dance Academy in Thornton, CO. "That's something every dancer craves." So it's no surprise that weekend FOMO has been blazing through studios like wildfire.
But is this jet-setter lifestyle really the most effective road to take? Can weekends of dancing with top talent truly replace the bread and butter of daily work at your home studio? The answer, according to most industry experts, is no. We asked five pros to explain why.