Broadway Dancer Hosts Master Class

TALYNN SOGHOMONIANS
El Vaquero Staff Writer

The GCC dance club presented professional and beginner dancers the opportunity of a lifetime, as they invited Broadway dancer Cheryl Clark to instruct a master class on May 16.

The Broadway dancer offered advice on how to become successful in the entertainment industry as well as shared her background with students.
Clark, 52, is well known for her work as a ballerina in the Harkness Ballet Company, an original company member of “Pippin” with Ben Vereen and “Chicago,” the Academy Awards with Gregory Hines and played “Cassie” in “Chorus Line” on Broadway.

With both her parents involved in the music industry, Clark was surrounded by music and dance all her life. “For me, I am into music and as a musician what moves my soul is what I hear first,” said Clark.

As a professional dancer, Clark informed the class that the profession is time consuming. Most dancers work six days a week including Saturday nights.

When Clark was at her performance peak at 16, she went through many dance-related injuries. She became worried that her dance career was over.

Yet, Clark proved that sometimes age is not as significant when it comes to the quality that a dancer is capable of accomplishing. Clark said, “In the last version of `Chicago’ almost all of us were over 40.”
Dance Club member Wendy Bracamontes said, “I was encouraged because of my experience with musicals.”

Clark shared a quote by Alec Baldwin when he was asked what group of women he would be most interested in working with. “The women in `Chicago,’ because I love women who can dance and I respect them,” Baldwin said, according to Time magazine.

Most of the class centered on the dance techniques of American choreographer Bob Fosse. Clark explained that these dance routines were unique due to Fosse’s natural hunched position which is shown through his dance routines.

“This [routine] is the good stuff to drill as a group near a mirror because you are able to investigate in the mirror,” said Clark.
In order to improve outside of the dance business, a partner who enjoys dancing is important, according to Clark. “My ex-husband was a pro-golfer but he liked to go to disco techs,” she said. “You need to show the audience a lot of confidence.”

Students were asked to practice in flat dance shoes in order to prevent injury. Clark said, “While I like to work in flats, these choreographers want to see length in leg. You have to learn how to deal with cushioning while jumping.”

During the class, Clark gave a brief lecture on Fosse and the importance of tap and ballet. “Any gig I have ever done has been tap such as the performance in the Academy Awards,” said Clark.

Clark also said, “Bob [Fosse] loved ballet dancers, but ballet is like swimming because you don’t last long in it.”

Student Jessica Mangun said, “I am taking the dance class because I love to express myself.”

As a suggestion, Clark said, “Keep an open mind and see what has been done before you.”