Dance alumna Julie Crothers teaches master class

Julie Crothers, who earend a bachelor's of fine arts in dance in 2014, returned to campus to teach two master classes and interact with the dance majors.

On April 18 and 19, the Elon University Dance Program hosted alumna Julie Crothers, who taught two masterclasses (modern and improvisation) and conducted a Q&A with the B.F.A. Dance majors.

Crothers was born and raised in Tennessee where she studied dance and earned her bachelor’s of fine arts in dance and her bachelor’s in arts administration from Elon in 2014. She has been a company dancer for AXIS Dance Company, an internationally touring dance company based in Oakland, California, since July 2014 and has had choreography presented in North Carolina, New York and at the American College Dance Association Conference in Kentucky.

As an Elon alumna who has once been in the shoes of many of our majors but has now gained a wealth of knowledge from her experiences in the real world, Crothers was excited to share all that she could with our current dancers.

During a question-and-answer session April 18, Crothers talked about her experience with AXIS Dance Company and her life in Oakland. She stressed the importance of using one’s time in college to appreciate and hone modern and ballet technique, and to also continuously explore one’s own artistic voice. She said that every movement feels different to each individual, and as a dancer transitions from the college dance world into the real world, it is important to acknowledge and take pride in these unique qualities. Her words were both thought-provoking and comforting to the dance majors, especially seniors who are preparing to join the ranks of dancers like Crothers as an Elon alumna.

On April 19, Crothers led the junior and senior dance majors through a master class taught in Scott Studios. The class consisted of multiple movement phrase exercises that were inspired by release technique, followed by some improvisational explorations and movement creation activities.

To begin, the dancers walked through the space, performing a series of circular movements with the upper body and torso in order to warm up the bodies in the space. Following this, Crothers took the class through a series of more rhythmic movement phrases that pushed the dancers to stay grounded in their movement and emphasized the concept of head-tail connection.

As the dancers settled into their bodies, Crothers asked the class to travel across the floor while improvising movements that were initiated from randomly selected body parts. Not only were the dancers pushing their limits physically, but they also had to continuously create new ways of moving their body across the space.

Improvisation is often a difficult area for dancers, so Crothers challenged the juniors and seniors when she asked them to take these improvisational concepts they were playing with and apply them to another dancers’ body. After assigning each of the dancers a partner, Crothers asked one dancer to improvise through the space while the other got to support, restrict or redirect the dancers movement. By playing with this idea, the dancers seamlessly transitioned into contact improvisational studies with each other, which brought to light new and interesting ways of moving.

To finish the class, Crothers taught the dancers a phrase. Once the phrase was in the dancers’ bodies, she asked them to break down each move and assign it some sort of descriptive word. Once the whole phrase was labeled, Crothers asked one dancer to read the list of words while another dancer improvised a new phrase inspired by each of these words.

When Crothers performed her original phrase next to the improvised phrase that the dancer created, the two seemed to complement each other perfectly. Exercises such as this one can be incredibly helpful tools in movement creation and is something that Crothers utilizes regularly.

The Elon Dance Program is so thankful Crothers came back to visit our campus and share some of her knowledge with dancers who are in a place that she was once in herself. Crothers has used all that she learned at Elon to launch her career to remarkable heights and we are thrilled to see what she does next.