Dancer teaches style of famed choreographer

Chris Uchida gave the dancers a series of simple steps to follow.

While they were to stay true to the framework, they were instructed to take the movements to a different level.

"Your challenge is to make it come alive and have meaning for you. Put your personality on it," said Ms. Uchida, a former dancer in the Joffrey Ballet, who taught a master class based on the work of choreographer Twyla Tharp to a group of mostly high school students at the Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center on Saturday.

About 35 people attended the class, which coincided with the Augusta Ballet WinterWorks performance of Ms. Tharp's Deuce Coupe.

"It brings in the outside world of dance. It gives them a glimpse of something maybe beyond what they are learning," said Ron Jones, the artistic director of the Columbia County Ballet.

Twenty-five Columbia County Ballet company members attended the workshop.

This is the second year the Augusta Ballet has offered free outreach classes. It combines the classes with featured performances.

"This is not to replace anybody's instruction, but to augment it," said Patti Ann Smith, of the Augusta Ballet.

Saturday's class and previous workshops have offered different twists on dance styles such as ballet, hip-hop and modern dance.

Ms. Uchida danced with Ms. Tharp in the 1970s and is authorized to teach Ms. Tharp's style and choreography.

Rebekah Lowry, a North Augusta High School junior, is more accustomed to formal ballet movements than to Ms. Tharp's modern edge.

"It was so much fun. She (Ms. Uchida) was really easygoing," she said. "It's fun to get to do a different kind of dance."

The workshop culminated in a performance of one of the numbers in the WinterWorks' show.

Seeing the show Friday before taking the class added another dimension for Tori Scoggins, a John S. Davidson Fine Arts School sophomore.

"I really liked it. It was something I'd never really seen before," she said.

Reach Charmain Brackett at czbrackett@hotmail.com.

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