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Dance Planet, Do it!




My friend Sharon knows how to do the seventies disco dance “the hustle.” This week at work I would sing to her, “Do it! Do the Hustle!” Sharon would stop what she was doing (teaching kids) and “Do it! Do the Hustle!” Ahh, the power disco dance has to make us happy!
This past Saturday I walked into Dance Planet held at Booker T. Washington in Dallas toting my sliver disco ball sequin dance shoes ready to Do it! Do the hustle. I staked my claim at the front of the room next to the instructor, John Chaparro and my fun at Planet Dance began. 
John Chaparro
Dance Planet is the oldest and largest free dance festival in the United States.  For sixteen years this free festival has been for all ages and offers so many different styles. People are so happy to have such wonderful opportunities and new experiences to be exposed to.  There were thirty styles represented: hip-hop, ballet, tap, jazz, cirque silks, samba, cha-cha, folklorico, swing, modern, drill team, kabuki, flamenco, hustle...They even had one-on-one Pilates workouts.
Bruce Wood, my favorite choreographer
Imagine meeting and learning from someone you really admire. I have wanted to take a class from Bruce Wood ever sense he created his The Bruce Wood Dance Company in 1997 and more recently the Bruce Wood Dance Project. Actually, what I really wanted was to be in his company. His classical modern style is what I was born to dance…but que sera sera! Thanks to Dance Planet, I had the pleasure of meeting this brilliant choreographer and taking class as if I WERE in his company (if only for one hour).

Bruce Wood turned up the music to Ray Charles’ I Got a Woman in studio C at the Booker T. Washington School of Visual Arts and tried to remember his choreography to an excerpt of Smoke, a very fun and sassy dance that easily puts a smile on your face.
Melissa Young, dancer from the Dallas Black Dance Theatre, stepped in to give Bruce Wood a hand when she noticed Bruce was leaving out details from the reparatory class. Bruce Wood has said, “I usually don’t explain dances.” He is very much like Nike with the Just Do It attitude and an in the moment, get inspired by the music kind of dancer. He graciously accepted Melissa’s help and we learned the exact choreography from Smoke.
Teresa Espinosa
The most popular style at Planet Dance was hip-hop. The TV show, So You Think You Can Dance has attracted so many more kids. It was hip-hop dancer and choreographer Teresa Espinosa who headlined Dance Planet this year. She has worked with superstars Britney Spears, Pink, Mariah Carey, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and more. The acclaimed hip-hop dancer got her start on Janet Jackson’s HBO special, The Velvet Rope. Espinosa is a Dallas native and Booker T. alumni who lives in LA and teaches at the Debbie Reynolds Studio.
Espinosa says this about dance, “If dance were a food, it would be a stew. For me, dance is more than just steps, it’s about how it all marinates together and comes out with a distinct flavor and a distinct message. It all comes down to expression.”
I think of dance as a language. I love the romance of France (ballet) and the spirit of Spain (flamenco), but we should all be exposed to many languages and styles to understand what Martha Graham said, “Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body.” It’s up to the audience to translate, and it’s up to us to Do It!


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