Charly Haley , Published December 23 2012
A passion for dance
Bonnie Haney School of Dance and Performing Company has three shows each year: a Halloween show, a Nutcracker and Holiday show, and a spring show. In addition to teaching classes, Haney choreographs and directs these shows.
What do you do as a dance instructor?
Dance class is kind of where it starts. (There are) all different ages, from 3-years-old to teenagers. A lot of college kids and a lot of adults. We teach about almost 40 classes per week.
What types of classes?
We teach classical ballet, hip-hop, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern contemporary, ballroom and Latin dances.
What do you do as a choreographer?
Choreography is creating dances to the music. What inspires you when you hear the music?
Like, we just got done at performing for Christmastime, The Nutcracker and holiday show. And The Nutcracker – being a pretty famous story – about 250 ballets perform it every year around the world, and we’re one of them. A lot of people recognize it, especially at Christmastime. There’s a lot of different music and it’s kind of fun because people will come to The Nutcracker and say, “I’ve heard this music so many times, but I never knew what I was listening to.” And there’s lots of different types of music. So with that music, you create different dances to it, and that’s choreography.
How long have you been in dance?
I started dance when I was 4 years old, and I used to sit and just watch on TV anything to do with dance, any kind of dance. Tapping, or ballet, or whatever it would be.
Then I just continued on from learning how to dance and perform. I always knew I liked teaching. I went away to school at the National Ballet School of Toronto, and went to Minnesota Dance Theatre and danced in Minneapolis as well. But I went away to school to learn how to learn how to teach dance, because dancing is one thing, and knowing how to dance and perform is one thing, but knowing how to break it down to teach it is a whole different thing. Especially in the world of ballet where there’s over a hundred French terms.
And when you’re teaching dances, a lot of the ballets get into the different ethnic dances like the Spanish dances or Russian dances and things like that. You want to learn a lot of those, and when I was away at the National Dance School of Toronto I was fortunate enough to get a lot of the teachers that came from all over the world. So that really broadened my horizons a lot.
And then when I came back I took a job at teaching dance at Concordia College, as well as I had my own private school started at the same time.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I like the choreography part, but I love teaching. I’ve always felt that that’s something where I’ve always had a passion. There’s something in seeing the progress with the dancers. I don’t care what age it is. I have a lot of little children that progress all along the way, but I also have a lot of teenagers and adults that, you know, it’s like sculpting. You can see the different changes, sometimes weekly, as you make corrections and help them with what they’re doing to become a beautiful dancer. So for many years I’ve been working on creating beautiful dancers, along with beautiful dances.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Charly Haley at (701) 235-7311