Erica Sobol
June 1, 2014

Music for contemporary 

Queen of the dance domain: Sobol and her all-male Capezio A.C.E. Awards cast

You won’t find a set warm-up—or really any warm-up at all—in Erica Sobol’s contemporary classes at Movement Lifestyle studio and EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles. Instead, Sobol—who is the 2013 Capezio A.C.E. Award winner—begins class with a meditation, asking her students to lie on their backs, close their eyes, focus on their breath and be still. “If we know what it’s like to be totally still with purpose,” Sobol says, “then we can move with purpose.” Post-meditation, she gives her students 10 minutes to warm themselves up and then jumps right into choreography.

While her approach might seem unorthodox, Sobol came to it after trying out a few alternatives: To add clout to her class, she jam-packed her first teaching gigs with warm-ups that felt forced. “I felt like I needed to give some sort of technical warm-up to these kids,” Sobol says. “I was doing exercises that I didn’t even understand myself.” Now that she’s been around the teaching block a few times, she is more comfortable leaving her students to their own devices. “My body is so different from other dancers’ bodies,” she says. “I’m teaching high-level classes—they know what to do with their own bodies.” DT

Gregory Alan Isakov, This Empty Northern Hemisphere and The Weatherman

“His music is really mellow and emotional, and his lyrics are kooky. I use it for meditation almost every single day for class and just to stir my guts and my heart.”




Ben Howard, Every Kingdom

“I started working exclusively with men right around the time this album came into my life. There’s something essentially masculine about the whole album without it feeling inaccessible to me as a woman. I feel it on all fronts: as a woman, as a creator, as a human with a heart, as a music lover.”



Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Up From Below

“My assistant and I practice yoga together to this. It’s hippie music, but it always makes me want to move. The lead singer’s voice is really special.”




The Tallest Man On Earth, “Love is All”

“I’ve been listening to this on repeat, and it’s what my newest bit of choreography has been set to—it’s one of those songs that I never get sick of. It’s really silly and special and heartbreaking. It’s this tiny gem, three and a half minutes long.”




Volcano Choir, Repave

“The whole album feels like a giant kick to the gut for me. It’s so beautiful and loud and right on and weird, and there’s a song for every moment.”




Photo by Max Bronner, courtesy of Sobol

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