Visiting dancer schools students in Disney favorites

Guest choreographer and Kiara Brown ‘01 hosted a mas- ter class in Brodie Hall dance studio on Sept. 24. Brown taught students a series of three dances from her work with the Disney Theatrical Group, in- cluding numbers from “Alad- din,” “Newsies” and “Mary Poppins.” Brown has had an impres- sive amount of experience in dance. She graduated from Geneseo with a major in inter- national studies and a minor in dance. She has worked as a professional singer, dancer and actress. Brown is currently a teaching artist and choreogra- pher for the Disney Theatrical Group.

After brief warm-ups and stretches in Brodie, Brown be- gan rehearsing the first number “Arabian Nights” from Dis- ney’s “Aladdin.” The dance evoked an image and feeling of a warm, summer night. Her slow movements were punctuated with sharp Middle Eastern- inspired poses. Brown instructed students to “bring their own char- acter to it,” shouting encouraging words and feedback during each run-through.

After “Aladdin,” Brown moved on to “Seize the Day” from “Newsies,” set in 1899 New York City. This dance was faster and militaristic, reflecting the en- ergy of the city. The dancers ran, jumped and stomped along to this number––the speed was impres- sive. Each dancer was able to pick up the complex moves in a short amount of time.

After this first hour of intense dancing, Brown moved to the final and––in my opinion––the most exciting number of the day: “Su- percalifragilisticexpialidocious” from the classic “Mary Poppins.” The choreography was comprised of motions that represented each letter of the word and increased in tempo as the song went on. The dance was extremely fast-paced and many of the dancers ended up laughing and arbitrarily dancing around as Brown flew through the motions. After receiving her applause from the class Brown gave some insight on her involvement with Geneseo and her current posi- tion working with Disney. She explained that professor of dance studies and artistic director of Geneseo Dance Ensemble Jonette Lancos asked her to visit. She is in residence for a few days in order to prepare students for the upcoming fall dance recital.

Having worked as a teaching artist with Disney for four years now, Brown is an “active per- former, but [she] also gets to teach things from Disney’s Broadway productions.” Along with choreo- graphing, a large part of her job is to “build musical theatre programs and dance programs in schools,” working in both underprivileged and more affluent areas. “One of my favorite parts of my job is to help students get their creativity out,” she said.

Brown said her experience at Geneseo helped to prepare her for her current career. As a student, she was involved with Gen- eseo’s student-run dance orga- nization Orchesis and choreo- graphed several musicals. “[I was] involved in nearly every single musical,” Brown said.

Not only was the master class both entertaining and successful, but it was also an inspiring experience with such a successful alumna of Geneseo. Brown’s teaching exemplifies her positivity and passion for what she does; she truly seemed to bolster confidence in the students who participated.