Because of all the TV exposure choreographers are getting in recent years, we are able to understand the magic behind a fabulous dance piece: the choreographer. Hours of sweat, tears, and more sweat are put into what evokes emotions in us we never knew we had, but we don’t take the time to understand where the movement comes from. Choreographers are the “(wo)man behind the curtain,” so to speak — the often unrecognized reason we are able to enjoy dance in the first place.
Gina Starbuck is a triple threat performer who has worked with celebrities such as Nikki Minaj, Josh Kelley, Gavin DeGraw, and many more. She is also an accomplished singer/songwriter and her debut EP, Pieces of My Mind, is available on iTunes. On faculty at many different studios and conventions, Starbuck has also worked with TV shows such as America’s Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance, and, most recently, Mobbed. But if this isn’t enough, she is also a philanthropist; her annual fundraiser, Art4Life, raises money for the American Cancer Society and supports cancer awareness.
I first encountered Gina Starbuck at a Hollywood Vibe Dance Convention in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I hadn’t really heard of her before, but from her picture on the lobby’s display board, I gathered that she was spicy and maybe a little bit intense. I had forced one of my male students to take the entire convention, although he was only interested in hip hop and had never taken a jazz class before. He was definitely dragging around that morning, regretting the fact the he ever agreed to do as I asked and attend the entire convention. So…in walks Gina, a tiny little redhead with tons of personality. The class lit up as she took the stage, and I was intrigued. If she is capable of making a room of teenagers wake up on a Saturday morning, she must be something special.
It’s been about a year since we attended that convention, and I still get requests to play the song Miss Gina used in class so that my student can go over “his jazz dance.” It created a fire in him to broaden his dance horizons and learn more styles. He has since learned that he is a very fast tapper and is more flexible on his left side. His double pirouette is getting better every day, but his jumps are what he wants to work on the most. It’s hard to believe that a spunky little firecracker got this reaction out of him, but that’s the magic of an excellent choreographer and teacher. Thank you Gina Starbuck for the impression you’ve left on my student and students across the United States.