Featuring the Charleston Dance Project, Dancefx Concert Dance Company, and Contact Ballroom Company
Sat. April 18, 8 p.m.
Charleston Music Hall
37 John St.
Ballet-trained dancer and choreographer Danielle Hosker fell hard for jazz when she was a 14-year-old student of dance legend Marcus Alford in Atlanta. But years later, when she was a senior at the University of Georgia, she was frustrated by a void in her life. UGA had programs for ballet and modern, but nothing for jazz.
So she rallied the Athens community to create the Dancefx Dance Company, a grassroots troupe made of students and teachers. Started for "selfish reasons," the idea spread and grew into a nonprofit organization that includes the Dancefx Athens Studio Program, Dancefx Concert Dance Co., DanceATHENS Festival, Contact Ballroom, and Dancestyle Dancewear — all born in Athens.
In 2007, Hosker expanded the franchise to include the Dancefx Charleston Studio Program and the Charleston Dance Project, the flagship ensemble that performs contemporary dance in the Lowcountry.
"Ballet is your vegetables and the core of everything, but jazz — that's my focus," says Hosker. She says contemporary dance has replaced jazz among professionals, and the jazz community has begun to quickly follow suit.
Hosker never anticipated owning a dance studio and assumed her dance career would end with college. But at UGA, she missed jazz so much that once she spawned Dancefx, and it began to snowball, she felt no choice but to give birth, as she says, to this "Frankenstein child."
Surrendering to demand, she remains on that path nine years later.
"You make mistakes and you fall down," Hosker says. "But you follow your heart. You don't take no for an answer and the right people are in place. It's definitely something that can move forward. We've been really lucky."
From the outset, Hosker took pride in having only the best instructors teach her company. The famed Frank Chaves, of the River North Chicago Dance Company, and Cherise Wakefield, of Atlanta's contemporary Project 7, were regular instructors. Hosker, who stepped into the choreographer's role in 2004-2005, teaches only jazz and ballroom.
In its first year, Dancefx got a rave review in Dance magazine for its performance in the Atlanta Jazz on Tap Festival. The second year, it picked up speed, offering studio classes to children. It hosted and performed in the first annual DanceATHENS Dance Festival to highlight Athens dancers performing belly dancing, ballet, modern, and breakdancing. Year No. 3 saw the acquisition of a dance studio, which housed the company's newest additions: Dancestyle Dancewear and Contact Dance Co., a ballroom dance performing company, offering ballroom and Latin dance classes.
Hosker has a knack for storytelling through dance — falling in love with a piece of music and then "seeing it in her head," as she says. With Catalyst, her latest work to hit the stage in Charleston, she hopes to introduce her dancers to the dance community with a mix of jazz styles inspired by an array of choreographers over the years.
"Charleston has always been a wonderful place for us," Hosker says. "We've always been very well received here.
"If there's a need in the community, that's where we step up to the plate," she says. "There is an amazing dance community here."