Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Duane Lee on Dance and Music

Duane Lee has over 15 years of experience as a Hip-Hop performer, choreographer, and instructor, as well as a gymnast and musician. At the age of 17, he began dancing for Rennie Harris Puremovement (RHPM), the first Hip-Hop theater dance company, which he now serves as Assistant Artistic Director. He has taught and lectured at universities around the country, assisted with choreography and dancing on Broadway productions, and is heavily involved in Philadelphia where he currently teaches. Having such an accomplished Hip-Hop dance artist come to the IMC is an incredible opportunity! You can read his full experiences here.

1. Please tell us a little about your background and what inspired you to get involved with the IMC?

I was a gymnast for fourteen years. A member of the Junior National Team for five years (’90-’95) and trained for the 1996 Olympics. Unfortunately, I was injured in 1996 in a competition and was unable to continue training.

It was at this time that I committed myself to my professional dance career. In October of 1994, I became a member of Rennie Harris Puremovement. We became the first Hip-Hop theater company in history. In 1996, I decided to move forward with the crew/company and my career in entertainment began.

I became interested in the IMC by luckily making an inadvertent phone call. The call was answered by Noel Ramos, Director of The IMC, and here we are now.

2. Music and dance have always been intertwined, but it does seem like the genres of music that incorporate dance into their live performances has expanded recently. Why do you believe this has happened?

From artist using a lot more dance in their performances, to the new dance shows (“So You Think You Can Dance”, “America’s Best Dance Crew” etc.) has a lot to do with this new appreciation for dance. I also feel that these shows need to move more into the business of edutainment (A term created by KRS1 of Boogie Down Productions) rather than just entertainment by reinforcing the history, theory and technique of the craft, as well as the performance aspect.

3. You are a dancer, a musician and an educator. How do you balance these creative talents without feeling overwhelmed?

A dancer, musician and educator is who I have always been. I don’t feel fulfilled unless I am executing all three.

4. Musicians tend to separate the use of the body and the mind when thinking about what they do. How do you best explain to musicians the importance of the process as a whole? (for example, how breathing, movement, etc. contributes to stamina and to the creative process).

I feel that all aspects of the Arts (Performing &Visual) are relevant. It’s left to the artist and where they are in their development to take on this perspective or not.

5. Since you have been involved and successful in various parts of the entertainment industry, is there one common thread that has helped contribute to your success in each area?

Those common threads that I’ve found have benefited me are: Faith, Humility and Discipline.

6. What can participants expect to take away from a workshop with you?

Participants of the workshop will take away a sense of confidence in being a dancer, as well as gaining a new respect for dance from a cultural, historical and physical perspective.

7. Any final thoughts?

I am really looking forward to attending and participating in The IMC 2010!

Thanks again to Duane Lee; see you at the IMC!

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