LMU Newsroom

Seventy Loyola Marymount University dance students got the chance to kick up their heels with professionals from the hit TV show “So You Think You Can Dance” and the “LA Dance Magic” dance company during a weeklong workshop that put them through a rigorous program of modern dance styles, ballet, yoga and Pilates.

The workshop, Plunge 2009, was led by professional choreographers Sonya Tayeh, of “So You Think You Can Dance” and Justin Giles, of “LA Dance Magic.” They guided the dance students and 14 master teachers through what organizers hope is the first of a series of yearly workshops.

“It is critical to do pre-professional training and directly connect students with current practicing professional dancers while the dance majors are pursuing their degree,” said Judy Scalin, co-chair of the Theatre Arts and Dance Department. Scalin said that just like engineering students need to do hands-on research in the lab, dancers need exposure to dancing professionals who can bring them up to industry standards.

Students said that in one week they learned a lot, including how much effort it takes to be a professional dancer.

“The workshop challenged the mind and was demanding on the body. The teachers pushed us to the limit and when I say to the limit, I mean to the limit,” said junior Callie Lyons. “Being taught by two masters of dance motivated us to reach our fullest potential as dancers and artists,” said Lyons.

Dance major Victoria Acker agrees. “I learned how hard I could actually work in an intensive way. It will affect me forever,” said Acker.

Plunge 2009 ran a week before regular classes began. “Students are here to focus on nothing but dance,” said Scalin. “They are able to build connections to one another and to LMU.”

The works created during Plunge 2009 will be presented in the fall dance concert running from Dec. 8-12 at the Strub Theatre on LMU’s campus.