Giselle Anguizola — aka “G” — is the embodiment of artist empowerment. As a creator, she’s a force to be reckoned with, but not in the intimidating or controlling way. It’s more like she shows up and you know things are going to happen around you. You’re going to be inspired, see things in new ways, be less afraid, more free.
Believe it or not, she’s been cultivating this in the dance and arts community for two decades now.
If you’ve ever come across those YouTube videos of Mad Dog from 2003, you’ll find G there dancing among Naomi Uyama, Peter Strom, Andy Reid, Nina Gilkenson, Skye Humphries and Jojo Jackson.
She’s gone from introducing the Girl Jam concept to the vernacular jazz world and teaching the follower track at Camp Hollywood for seven years straight to becoming a musician, creating shows for artists. She’s hired more than 100 musicians and dancers in the past five years, partnering with her husband, John Saavedra, who is The Swinging Gypsies’ bandleader. They are always finding new opportunities for the music and dance community to work.
“It got to the point where dancers and musicians who were coming to town would reach out to us to see if we had any gigs coming up,” she says.
Something G takes pride in is consistently providing equal pay for all performers involved and not accepting trade deals — in a sense that one would have to pay their dues because of a social hierarchy. She pays everyone appropriately for their time, energy and service.
“I always want people to feel fully respected for their service as a human being instead of just someone that can do something for the organization,” she explains.
One of her most recent performances in February was at the Ogden Museum, a gorgeous space with a gothic library vibe.
“Swing music was easy to enjoy because, being Latina, I grew up with Salsa and Merengue. The mixtures of instrumentation in big band music called to me. I loved performing and imagining myself in another era. I could be identified outside of my culture. It was American music. It was rebellious.”
Growing up, G played softball for seven years until sophomore year in high school. Alongside, that, she had also taken piano lessons from about age 6. But at age 13, her school music teacher taught basic swing dance as part of a music class and she fell in love.
Her music teacher swing danced socially in Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego.
“Thank God for this music teacher, and for the arts. This one woman changed my life,” G remarks.
Soon after, Giselle saw a flier at a gelato place advertising a workshop taught by Catrine Ljunggren and Josie Say. Lisa Conway hired the pair to come to San Diego and teach a Lindy Hop workshop. They had both taught with Frankie Manning. Giselle learned a Swedish/American style Lindy Hop that most called ‘modern savoy.’ Unlike the California smooth style, this was bouncy and had a groove, incorporating Hip Hop elements. Later on, she discovered a smoother style in a workshop with Peter Loggins and Lisa Ferguson, another event hosted by Lisa Conway and the San Diego Swing Dance Society.
She enjoyed social dancing in Orange County and went to her first competition, ALHC 2000.
“I moved around a lot, and swing dancing was a way for me to connect with people,” G explains.
From the early to mid 2000s, she taught with Andy Reid, Peter Loggins, Skye Humphries, Todd Yannacone, Chester Whitmore, and many others. She continued to travel, compete and teach regularly, until a severe back injury threatened to change the course of her life.
During Palm Springs, a Lindy Hop and West Coast Swing event in 2003/04, she and her partner did a practice run of their routine right before they were supposed to go out on stage. She landed the backflip poorly and doctors told her she would never be able to dance again.
That didn’t stop G, though. She started practicing yoga and healed herself. Once she was feeling better, she saw an opportunity to work with Todd Yannacone.
Todd didn’t care about aerials — which, at the time was all the rage in the scene, along with fast dancing.
“It wasn’t the right vibe for me at the time. I was there to connect with people,” G recalls.
In 2005 G started the first all follow-focused weekend in SoCal called ‘Girl Jam,’ with the help of her friend Jojo Jackson.
At the time, most instructors were hired as a couple, where the leader would be the more prominently recognized instructor in the partnership. Girl Jams challenged that trend and organizers started hiring people as individual dancers.
“It was normal for me to see two women teaching together, because that’s what I saw in the classes I took.”
They put together an all-lady routine called Hot Pockets, which was a response to a guys-only routine called Sausages.
The gentlemen followed the second year with the sequel, Goldmember, and the ladies responded with the routine, Honey Pot.
Girl Jams began popping up everywhere, stretching from California to abroad.
G is somewhat of a nonconformist. She remarked how in the following years it seemed like there were patterns in the community where diversity and inclusion were not at the forefront.
“I just wanted to be out there and show: here’s someone not conforming to everyone’s style. I can dance differently and still be accepted.”
In 2010, G moved to New Orleans.
“I wanted to live every day of my life as an artist and share that with people. New Orleans fulfilled that for me.”
Now G and her husband John have two homes– one in San Diego and one in New Orleans, traveling seasonally for work.
During her first five years in New Orleans, she started training in fast dancing and aerials again with her partner, Chance Bushman.
Later, in 2015 she partnered with Justin Zillman at Camp Hollywood and continued working with many others including Nathan Bugh, Ryan Calloway and Adam Brozowski.
And now after many years of cultivating her own voice as a singer/solo jazz/tap dancer, you can expect to see her at some upcoming dance events — like ILHC, after the pandemic.
“I’ve always enjoyed creating projects that have an avenue for artists to feel respected and valued.”
Let’s have a listen.
2020 has presented the world with many logistical challenges to overcome. If you are a dance teacher who can not currently teach in a studio you may be considering teaching dance classes online. Check out these 7 tips for hosting livestream classes to help you ease the transition into becoming an online dance teacher.
1. Your interactions with students will be different. This is a no brainer – of course it’ll be different!
New York swing dance teacher Stina Dallons explains how:
“It’s weird going from a teacher that is hands on. If I’m doing something and I look behind and I notice that someone else isn’t doing it correctly I can be like “No no no no, not that. Pick up your foot, put it down.” Now I have to wait for an emote. I’m waiting for a thumbs up or a heart.”
Feedback will likely come from students’ emotes or typed comments, which can be a challenge to monitor while you’re instructing. It’s a good idea to consider this factor when planning your lesson.
2. Time is relative. This one is simple but easy to forget at first. Not everyone who wants to take your online dance class lives in your region of the world. Always remember to specify the time zone when promoting your class!
3. Your livestream platform matters. Think about what is most important to you when you’re choosing a platform to teach on. Do you want your livestream to stay up until you take it down? Want access to your class to be for paying students only or open to everyone? Do you want to be able to see your students?
Consider your priorities and do a little research before that first lesson.
Know that you don’t have to stick to just one platform. Dance Break facilitator Jess Grippo uses multiple platforms.
“I open up a Zoom room. People can join if they want to see me and each other and allow me to see them. They join the Zoom room and then I broadcast the Zoom room to Facebook, but you can take part in it through Zoom if you want.”
4. Communicate requirements. How much floor space is needed for the class? Do students need a bar? A mirror? A partner? Is there a cost for the lesson? Are students required to download an app to participate in your online dance class?
Make sure to specify any important information before you begin the class.
5. Consider collaborations. Roger and Mané Plaut like to teach livestream ballet classes as a couple.
“We find it’s easier to teach together for the online classes because there are so many different things to think about to make sure it’s all working properly. You have to make sure that the video feed is going out, that the sound quality is good, that the music can be heard, and you have to try to respond to people’s comments if they’re having problems.”
Additionally, during demonstrations, one faces the camera while the other faces away from it. Their students like to see both front and back views. People also enjoy watching the couple interact with each other during the lesson. It adds a little extra flavor to their dance class.
If you can’t physically collaborate with another dance teacher consider virtual collabs. Think about reaching out to other online instructors to cross-promote your online dance classes.
6. Test Your tools first. Fast internet connection and the right video equipment are both important factors for a successful livestream session. Roger and Mané experienced lag-time in the beginning but were able to fix the problem by upgrading their router. A good webcam or a smartphone with a high-quality camera is often essential for video.
Through trial and error, Lindy Hop and Balboa teacher Laura Keat found that her webcam was unable to keep up with her footwork. “Sometimes when we danced if we moved too fast the movement could be blurred whereas my iPhone camera is better for movement.”
Audio is a factor as well. If the mic on your camera isn’t picking up your voice well you might need to invest in an external microphone.
7. Promote your class in advance. Give people the opportunity to plan to take your dance class! Many teachers create a Facebook event page prior to the class and invite students, friends, and family. You can then share the event page to relevant Facebook groups. Some teachers even create their own Facebook group for their lessons. This can create a sense of community with your students or can be used as a medium to hype your classes. Got an email list? Send out a newsletter with your class dates!
There are many things to consider before teaching an online dance class, but there are some things you won’t know until you try! Planning is important but it’s okay to be flexible and change things as you learn.
For a little inspiration check out our Epic Online Dance Classes article.
In recent weeks, pandemic regulations have changed the face of dance instruction. With public spaces closed and social gatherings forbidden, many dance teachers have turned to a method of teaching they’d never considered before: the online dance class.
Being unable to go to your favorite local dance class can be a bummer, but now you have unprecedented access to an incredible number of talented dance teachers!
Here are some of our favorites:
Solo Jazz with Stina
Stina Dallons is New York City based swing teacher now teaching live solo jazz classes every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday at 7 PM EST. Stina’s classes are streamed via Facebook live on her personal Facebook page. Classes are donations based, so you just pay what you can. Stina gives half of her donations to You Should Be Dancing Studios and the other half to charity.
Swing Classes with Laura Keat
Acclaimed Lindy Hop and Balboa instructor Laura Keat has taken a temporary break from teaching at large swing conferences to offer one-on-one instruction and workshops for Bal follows. She’s also working on launching instructional videos. Information about Laura Keat’s classes can be found on her website.
Dance Breaks with Jess Grippo
If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to cut loose and dance intuitively then consider tuning into Dance Breaks with Jess Grippo. This published author, entrepreneur, and ballet teacher currently hosts Dance Breaks every Wednesday at 1PM EST. Jess’ Dance Breaks are free but donations are welcome.
Follow Focus with Natalia Eristavi
Love Lindy? You can now learn from international Lindy Hop instructor Natalia Eristavi! Natalia is creating online instructional content for swing and jazz dancers via her Patreon page. There are three tier options you can subscribe to receive online dance instruction from Natalia.
West Coast Swing with Jérome & Bonnie Subey
Want to learn some solo WCS drills via Facebook live? Then join Jérome & Bonnie Subey in their online dance dojo! Classes are available to anyone, but a donation is requested. Suggested donation is $10. Check out the Subey’s Facebook page for upcoming online dance classes!
Low Intermediate Ballet Bar Classes with Mané and Roger Plaut
Washington D.C. based couple Mané and Roger are a dynamic duo with decades of experience and they want to teach you ballet! This charismatic teacher team offers hour-long lessons every Tuesday and Friday at 7 PM EST. Classes are $10 or 4 classes for $35.
Structured Swing Instruction with Syncopated City
Want to work through a comprehensive library of exceptionally produced lessons at your own pace? Want live coaching and access to a community forum? Consider a subscription to Syncopated City. For $25 a month you’ll receive instruction from experienced professionals on floor craft, bodywork, solo or partnered movement, and more!
West Coast Swing Phil and Flore
Want a West Coast Swing class every Wednesday? Tune in to Phil and Flore online from Montreal at 7 PM EST on Wednesdays. Take 4 classes for $43 from this Canadian based couple of international West Coast Swing champions.
Wine Down-Dog with Jes Ann Nail
This chill Vinyasa yoga class is perfect for any dancer. All you’ll need for this 45-minute flow is your yoga mat, a glass of wine (or other drink of your choice), a quiet space, and $10. Jes Ann also teaches a variety of dance classes including solo footwork drills and more. Follow all her classes on her Facebook page.
Want more options for epic online dance classes to take this Spring? Check out our website’s curated list of upcoming online dance classes!