Hip-Jaz with Donyelle Jones

Hip-Jaz

Taking Class

Donyelle Jones' open-level Hip-Jaz started as a class for hip-hop dancers who want to learn jazz technique, but still get a hip-hop class. If you enjoy an extended warmup and jazz across-the-floor, but prefer to dance hip hop, this class has the best of both worlds. You can stretch, strengthen, work on technique, then finish with a hip-hop combo!

Donyelle is passionate about the value of the basics, and fits as much as she can to strengthen a dancer's foundation into this 90-minute class. The first 70 minutes of Hip-Jaz is devoted to extensive stretching, dance conditioning exercises, and across-the-floor jazz technique practice. Only the last 20 minutes of class is reserved for the combination.

Stretch, strengthen, work on jazz technique,
then finish with a hip-hop combo!

Dancers of both hip hop and jazz are welcome, and as you might expect, Donyelle is strong in both styles. In addition to teaching hip hop, she occasionally subs contemporary jazz classes at EDGE Performing Arts Center. Donyelle has a deep knowledge of technique, and students praise her ability to give detailed instruction and corrections to dancers of all levels. Students in Hip-Jaz range from complete beginners to other dance instructors at top L.A. studios.

Stretching and Dance Conditioning

To be the best dancers we can, Donyelle says, it's important to be as strong and as flexible as is possible for our bodies. More strength gives dancers stronger lines, and greater flexibility translates into better levels and fluidity.

Donyelle teaches proper form for stretches and exercises, often giving seven or eight separate instructions for even a basic move like the plank position. In addition, she walks around the entire room to correct individual students' form. She's very hands-on, Donyelle says, so let her know if you don't like to be touched.

Strength work in Hip-Jaz always includes a good dose of abs. Donyelle dishes out core conditioning tough love with a sense of humor ("Work, summer abs!") and sometimes a bit of creativity. You can also count on a few good sets of push-ups. Sometimes Donyelle will work on strengthening inner thighs and more.

Across-the-Floor Dance Technique Practice

Donyelle splits the class into beginner to no jazz, intermediate jazz, and advanced jazz groups to practice appropriate skills. She gives thorough explanations of the correct way to perform moves, why it works, and how to avoid situations that can happen if your form is off.

In Hip-Jaz, Donyelle wants students to really focus on themselves and what they need. Don't go across the floor just to make it happen, she says. If you need to go out of sync with the music, that's fine. Donyelle would greatly prefer that you make your movements as technically correct as possible, so that you're really getting value out of your training.

To conserve time, Donyelle's assistant leads the intermediate and advanced groups in basic center work while Donyelle is with the beginners. Don't think this is the easy stuff and you can relax while Donyelle's away. Most teachers seem to have eyes in the back of their heads, but in Donyelle's case, we think there's a 360-degree periscope involved. She'll seem busy with the beginners, but suddenly come over and give detailed corrections and even individual feedback on a move as simple as a releve—then tell you to do some more!

Don't worry if you've never taken jazz before. The beginning group works on very basic skills such as walking in plie and on releve (with your knees bent or up on your toes), simple turns, spotting, and preparatory movements for slightly more difficult turns.

Combination

Donyelle teaches an intermediate-level hip-hop routine in this class about 90% of the time, but once in a while she switches things up with a dance based in a different style, such as African or contemporary.

Donyelle leaves only 20 minutes for the routine, so students need to pick up quickly. For working dancers, the speed-learning is great preparation for auditions, where people teach fast and expect you to perform well right away. Audition staff may start cutting dancers before they've even finished teaching the combination.

However, for the nonprofessional, it can also be fun to learn fast once in a while and see how well you can do! Donyelle doesn't try to cover a lot of choreography, and the class usually picks up fine.

Hip-Jaz

Class in Brief

Donyelle Jones' Hip-Jaz offers quality jazz technique training for hip-hop dancers with jazz skills from basic to advanced, and finishes with a hip-hop combo.

Donyelle is passionate about the value of the basics and fits as much as she can to strengthen a dancer's foundation into this 90-minute class. A great teacher for the person who wants to strengthen their jazz fundamentals or the effectiveness of their stretching, she often gives very detailed explanations of what to do and why.

The first 70 minutes of Hip-Jaz is devoted to extensive stretching, dance conditioning exercises, and across-the-floor jazz technique practice. (For across-the-floor, the class splits into groups by level.)

Only the last 20 minutes of class is reserved for an int/adv-level combination, almost always hip hop. Donyelle teaches fast, which provides great practice for the dancer preparing for auditions. You have to stay on your toes to pick up in this class!