‘Feel the people around you’: Broughton dance students get a lift from NYC duo

An alternating slate of visiting artists meant a week of rich opportunities for dance students at Broughton High School.

Broughton dance director Betsy Graves coordinated the effort to bring seven artists to the school last week for 26 master classes that gave students the chance to learn new moves and training techniques.

Many of the visiting dancers and instructors were local, but Lauren Yalango-Grant and Christopher Grant, a married dance team from New York City, took on the special role of “dancers in residence,” spending two and a half days instructing students onsite.

In a Thursday afternoon session with the duo, well known for their work in Apple’s 2017 holiday ad, students focused on “contemporary partnering” skills, being reminded throughout drills to “be open and present” and “feel the people around you.”

The visiting couple said they typically work with professional dancers instead of younger students, and found working with the students exciting.

“They are a joy because of their openness and vulnerability and eagerness,” said Yalango-Grant. “Our classes offer community building and support, which is important not just as dancers, but as humans.

“We’re about uplifting each other,” she said.

Hannah Schafer, a Broughton senior who plans to study dance in college, said the classes helped her work on strengthening her body and gave her ideas for spring concert auditions.

Schafer’s partner for much of Thursday’s class was fellow senior Katherine Champion, who plans to study dance education at Meredith College. Champion said all of the teachers that week pushed personal growth. “In the partnering class, we could focus on core strength and art while working with someone else,” Champion said.

Graves, the 2017 Wake County Teacher of the Year, said the week of master classes was expensive, but she applied for and received a foundation grant through the school, and the rest was paid for with proceeds from a dance-a-thon fundraiser put on by the dance students.

Yalango-Grant was impressed with Graves and the work she’s doing at Broughton.

“These kids are very lucky to have her,” she said. “It’s amazing what she has been able to do here, in a public school.”

Brooke Cain: 919-829-4579, @brookecain