Repertoire and Procedures for a First Time Dance Accompanist
Accompanying for dance classes is a challenging but very rewarding option for pianists of many levels of skill and experience, even for the late intermediate to advanced student. While it is an exciting task to try to collaborate with dance teachers and students in the class setting, it is also daunting to know exactly what to play for any one of the vast number of types and styles of exercises presented throughout a dance class. It is important for the pianist to know how to communicate with a teacher who is using a vocabulary that is immensely different from that of our own art form. How does a pianist learn this vocabulary? How does the pianist know where to look for repertoire that is appropriate for each exercise throughout the class? How should the pianist organize their music library for quick easy access? What are the standard procedures for when to play and when to stop? How does the pianist decide what the tempo or the style of the music is supposed to be for each exercise? These are a few of the many questions that will hopefully be answered in this presentation. Perhaps you or one of your students might be inspired to pursue a career in dance accompaniment.
Justin has always been enthralled by the performing arts. At the age of eight, after attending an in-theater performance of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, he was determined to become an artist. Justin began his training in piano and ballet at His House Studios, a local music studio at his family church. From that point on Justin found every opportunity he could to study, and perform as a musician and a dancer. At age 13, Justin continued his music studies under the direction of Hamilton Tescarollo at the Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne Keyboard Department and received intensive training in ballet through the Auer Academy of the Fort Wayne Ballet. Upon graduating high school, Justin attended the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and received a Bachelors in Ballet Performance. After three years as a professional dancer with the Fort Wayne Ballet, Justin received the Premier Young Artist Award through the Jacobs School of Music to returned to Indiana University and complete a second Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance under the guidance of Professor Emile Naoumoff. Utilizing his skills and knowledge in multiple art forms,
Justin has built a reputation of being an accomplished dance accompanist, working as a rehearsal and class pianist in such dance organizations as the Fort Wayne Ballet, Fort Wayne Civic Theatre, New American Youth Ballet, Project Ballet School, Indiana University Ballet Theater and Pre-College Program, Indianapolis Ballet, and the Grand Rapids Ballet. Since 2015, Justin has developed a passion for teaching beginner to advanced piano students of all ages. While in Fort Wayne working as a professional dancer, Justin returned to his family church and taught piano lesson for three years at His House Studios, the place where it all began. Justin has been a resident of Grand Rapids, Michigan since May of 2020 and lives with his husband Nicholas and their two cats, Crookshanks and Mrs. Norris. Currently, Justin teaches piano from his home studio in Grand Rapids. He is in the process of becoming a certified piano pedagogue through the Royal Conservatory of Music. Justin is excited and ready to perform, teach, serve, and get involved in any way he can.
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