x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

World-class choreographers to show their skills in Dubai

Dance master class offers a chance to learn from among the best in the business.

The choreographer Laurieann Gibson, left, with Lady Gaga and Jesse Giddings at last year's MuchMusic Video Awards in Toronto. Mike Cassese / Reuters
The choreographer Laurieann Gibson, left, with Lady Gaga and Jesse Giddings at last year's MuchMusic Video Awards in Toronto. Mike Cassese / Reuters

Some have worked alongside the legendary Michael Jackson. Others have created moves for Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Janet Jackson, Tina Turner and Madonna. For the first time in the Middle East, the world's top choreographers will be teaching young hopefuls what they know during the Dance2LAX event, this Friday at The Venue in Downtown Dubai.

The event

Organised by the entertainment company The Mogue Collective, Dance2LAX offers workshops and performances in contemporary and hip-hop fusion taught by a variety of big-name choreographers, including the former Lady Gaga instructor and the star of the reality show The DanceScene, Laurieann Gibson; Janet Jackson's choreographer Gil Duldulao; and Kenny Wormald, star of the remake of Footloose. The workshops will be followed by Dance2LAX Live - a performance by the Dubai-based Sharmila Dance and the R&B singer Shontelle, who has collaborated with Bruno Mars and Akon.

The evening's host is Carmit Bachar, an original Pussycat Doll, who has also appeared in music videos for Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Ricky Martin and Aaliyah.

The concept

The Dubai event is only the second Dance2LAX, which was based on a model that is popular in the US. The first drew 400 dancers when it was held last month in London. Possible future destinations include Sao Paulo, Tokyo, India and Birmingham, UK.

"Everybody realises Dubai is becoming an entertainment hub," says Diana D'Alo, the Italy-based managing director of The Mogue Collective. "Dance2LAX will open up for a whole different market and it will be interesting to see the response."

Sean Renio and Devon Summerhayes, directors at The Mogue Collective, hatched Dance2LAX last year. "We saw that there was a niche and a demand through dance so we immediately put the idea to paper," says Summerhayes from London.

"Our message is 'bettering the planet through entertainment', bringing the cultures of the world together. Dance is not about imitating, it is a way of expressing yourself."

The talent will also interact with attendees through question and answer sessions.

"It is also about education," says Renio from Los Angeles. "The dancers will be giving motivational talks."

The talent

Blake McGrath, who appeared in the reality show So You Think You Can Dance in 2005 and has worked with Michael Jackson and Madonna, will teach a jazz funk class he describes as packing personality, technique and fast, intricate choreography.

"LAX is significant in Dubai because it gives local talent a chance to work with the biggest choreographers in the world," says the Canadian native. "Not only are they inspired, but it starts a relationship which might offer work in the future."

The flamboyant Gibson, who is from the US and has worked extensively with Lady Gaga, says "dance is an expression of the soul". She was speaking after finishing work as the creative director and choreographer on two world tours, by the Korean K-pop band Big Bang and Nicki Minaj, with Duldulao.

"My experience with young dancers who come to these types of conventions is that their enthusiasm and energy helps as they are hungry to learn."

Duldulao, who will be teaching hip-hop fusion, says Dance2Lax provides a unique opportunity for local hopefuls.

"There has never been an event where you have top choreographers all teaching in one place such as Dubai," he says.

Bachar, the creative director for American Idol season eight runner-up Adam Lambert, says the field is more competitive than ever.

"It's not just the desire to dance any more," she says. "There are a lot of talented dancers these days so you have to be more than that. Keep growing and exploring your art because you never know what opportunity may open up for you."

melshoush@thenational.ae

A workshop pass to Dance2LAX is Dh799, with access to Dance2LAX in the evening, for ages 13 and above. Registration begins 8am Friday at The Venue in Downtown Dubai. Tickets to Dance2LAX Live, which begins at 6:30pm, cost Dh139, and are available at Time Out Tickets, Platinum List, Ticketing Co and Box Office ME. For more details, go to www.dance2lax.com/dubai