Cornfield Dance offers a range of different classes which can be tailored to meet the needs of any community. Ellen Cornfield is a master teacher with long experience, who has the unusual ability to teach students of any level, from the non-dancer all the way up to the professional company dancer. She makes the excitement of movement and dance come alive for all. Classes can incorporate her gifted collaborators, dancers and composer, adding additional layers of artistic knowledge to her class offerings. Each class can be taught as a master class or a series of classes, and the length of the class can be adjusted to fit individual circumstances. Please contact [email protected] for additional information.
“The individual attention and guidance the students received under your leadership was very impressive. You explained the various concepts of movement in a clear manner and demonstrated the exercises and phrases so all the students, those with limited experience and those of more advanced level, could grasp and feel confident in their presentation. There was a marked improvement in the students.... the Dance Program has benefitted greatly by your presence.”
~ Stormy Brandenberger, Hofstra University Drama and Dance Department
- Ellen Cornfield’s technique class builds greater strength and resilience in the whole body. She beings on the floor with breathing exercies, followed by standing exercises that train and strengthen the back and the legs, interspersing the movement warm-up with phrases both stationary and traveling. While drawing upon classical ballet and modern forms, her class sustains an overall pacing and movement flow that transcends those forms, transporting the dancers to new energy connections and sensations within their bodies, culminating in full-throttle dance phrases. Throughout the class, Ellen focues on alignment, breathing, musicality, rhythmic clarity, dynamic expression, the body's relationship to space, and the effect of emotions on energy circuitry, in an effort to integrate the full person and body while building strength.
The Spacious Body
- Ellen Cornfield’s daily practice includes breathing work and meditation, the grounding for her work as a dance artist. This class invites both dancers and non-dancers to explore breathing techniques that bring more oxygen into one’s system, providing more energy and release in the muscles to increase efficiency while moving with a greater range of motion. Ellen’s experience with these techniques has guided her more deeply into the beauty of the body’s energy and spiritual systems, while informing her path as a dancer. The class moves from breathing exercises to alignment work, finally culminating in movement phrases, with the goal to help the body function easily within its anatomical container of muscles and bones. The combination of unforced movement and emotional calm that results is what Cornfield calls “The Spacious Body.”
- An expert at movement composition, Ellen Cornfield’s composition class draws on her years of experience as a choreographer and her early career working with Merce Cunningham. This class challenges students to create unique movement phrases from prompts, and then cultivate a critical eye in the editing process. Cornfield guides a constructive discussion of student developed movement phrases, looking carefully at elements such as levels, rhythms and tempos, spatial dynamics, interpersonal connections, movement vocabulary, and emotions. This course can culminate in an informal showing for family and friends if desired.
"What has made your class so special is the creative and insightful choreographic experience you provided to the students. As I watched the students participate in creating their own phrases, discussing and showing their work, solving problems and determining the rhythm, spacing and sequences to produce a complete presentation, I thought of how important this creative aspect is; and how rarely it is seen in most classes. The students were lucky to have the opportunity to study with you."
~Stormy Brandenberger, Hofstra University Drama and Dance Department
- Discussions of aesthetics pervade artistic communities. Cornfield seeks to begin an open dialogue on the origin, development, and importance of aesthetics, specifically in relation to dance works. This discussion addresses the questions: Where do our aesthetics come from? How do we develop our taste for something? Are early childhood experiences and patterning involved in the building of our aesthetic palette? Why is it important to expand our range of appreciation of different kinds of artistic expression? Cornfield delivers a powerful video presentation as a part of this dialogue, and if desired, she can incorporate a discussion of the works of Merce Cunningham.
"A marvelous dancer/choreographer... Ms. Cornfield has developed her own unique aesthetic vision... (She) is a teacher with long experience. She is articulate about the work and encouraging but demanding with her students. The results are real progress in technique and performace."
~ Joan Finkelstein, Former Director of the 92nd Street Y, currently Executive Director of The Harkness Foundation for Dance
- This music course fits nicely into residency programming, providing an opportunity for students to interact with a composer and learn about the composition of music with relation to dance. Composer Andreas Brade utilizes a range of sound materials to create musical scores. This course delves into the elements that constitute Brade’s creative choices, raising questions such as: Is this music? What is music? How do sound compositions connect to listener feelings? Participants are given a hands-on experience making sounds and rhythms of their own, which can culminate in a final demonstration for friends and family if desired.
"Andreas has been very inspirational to my son Theo and has been absolutely essential in helping Theo thrive as a young musician."
~Parent of former student
Video for Dance
- In an era of increasing technology, choreographers are using video as a medium to create work with intentional choices about the perspective of audience viewership. Ellen Cornfield presents a unique perspective on the creation of dance for video, as she was a part of Merce Cunningham’s early collaborations with video artist Charles Atlas. In this class, Ellen explains the principles of how to create space and continuity or non-continuity of movement, from the camera’s perspective, allowing students to experiment with these ideas. Ellen also guides students through the technical aspects of creation, in terms of making choices when linking edits from one shot to another. When teaching this class at the university level, Ellen seeks collaboration with video art courses when such opportunities are available, to pair technical editing skills with her conceptual approach to creating powerful movement through the medium of video.
Repertory classes are offered for students at the high school level and above. Ellen Cornfield currently teaches sections of her most recent works, Small Stages or Pas de Detour, which can be determined and adapted based on the level of dancers. This repertory class allows students the opportunity to hear insights from Ellen about her professional work, as they fully explore her movement quality and style. Working with Ellen on these excerpts gives students the chance to experience the process of working with a professional choreographer, informing their professional practice as they move forward in their dance career. This class can culminate in an informal showing for friends and family if desired.
"It was a real treat to have you in class last week! The students were delighted, several also said to me that they loved your choreography.. Thanks SOOOOOO much again for making the art of dance come to vibrant life for them and for me!"
~Reba Adler, Professor of Dance History at Hunter College
selected previous teaching engagements
The Place, London
The Laban Centre, London
The Rotterdamse Dansacademie, Holland
Ballet Rambert, London
Companie Emile Dubois, France
Charlesleroi Danses, Belgium
Int’l Dance Conference and Performance Festival, Poland
Studio Session House, Tokyo
Columbia Teachers College, New York
North Carolina School for the Arts, North Carolina
Ohio State University, Ohio
University of Florida, Florida
SUNY Purchase, New York
UC Berkeley, California
Cunningham Studio, New York
Dartmouth University, New Hampshire