Music for contemporary jazz
As a top-four finalist on Season 6 of “So You Think You Can Dance,” Ellenore Scott earned viewers’ votes by dancing like herself. While many of the other contestants knew each other from competition Nationals, Scott had trained in classical ballet and Graham-based modern at The Ailey School and learned street dance styles from her father. On “SYTYCD,” she played to her unique strengths to stand out. “I was surprised I got on the show, because I’d never done a competition in my life. I can’t do aerials or switch-leaps. I had to get experimental with my solos. Instead of wowing the audience with fouettés, I would start tutting,” she says, referring to an angular hip-hop form inspired by Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Scott rejects the trends of commercial contemporary dance in her twice-weekly classes at New York City’s Broadway Dance Center. She surprises many newcomers with improvisation exercises during across-the-floor. “I use task-based improv because I feel like dancers know their bodies better than I do. Instead of doing a six-step turn or battements, if I say, ‘Do slow circles across the floor,’ every dancer is going to do that differently.”
Her choreography blends modern and contemporary movement with elements of hip hop, adding extreme highs and lows in dynamics. She emphasizes musicality above all else; it’s common for house or EDM to pulse from the studio speakers.
For new musical inspiration, she frequents Majestic Casual, a meticulously curated YouTube channel known for showcasing obscure, high-quality remixes. The day before we spoke, her students had danced to a version of “Lost” by rapper Lido that she found on MC. “It’s a raw hip-hop beat. I love doing contemporary to it, because it challenges the dancers.” DT
Album: The Golden Age
“Woodkid is able to make large orchestral music feel personal. His music is very cinematic, which lends itself to choreography. The use of strings and drums is perfect for syncing up with my dynamic movement. Definitely check out ‘Run Boy Run’ from the album.”
Album: Distance and Time
“Fink is an amazing British singer-songwriter. His music is perfect for both improv and choreography. He is a master at the guitar, but he also has a very distinct voice that can go from calm and quiet to loud and powerful. I use his music at least weekly for warm-up.”
Album: Express Yourself EP
“This album has so many amazing dubstep beats that are perfect for my jumps across the floor. Although I usually teach contemporary, I like to use some type of dubstep or reggaeton beat to get the energy up. ‘Butter’s Theme’ and ‘Express Yourself’ are my favorites.”
“This was completely worth the 10 dollars! With a wide variety of styles, composers and feelings, this album can lend itself to a beautiful lyrical number or a quirky, expressive number. My favorites are Concerto for 2 Violins in D Minor by Bach and Boléro by Ravel.”
Photo by Rune Bergan, courtesy of Scott