Porter teaches unique choreography course
Passes on techniques she's learned through dance
|Jodi Porter is teaching an 18-week online master choreography course combining her knowledge of dance and skating. (John Gerbetz)|
In the first session, she took her students through an introduction and overview, talking about key components of dance choreography -- time, space, energy and form -- and laying out how they'll learn to apply these components to skating. Her goal is that her students become educated so that they can make informed choices about what they do with their skating choreography.
She switches back and forth from a Power Point presentation to video demonstration. For discussion, there is a live stream where all the participants can see her and each other.
Porter began skating as a child and competed for about 10 years, but an injury when she was at the novice level thwarted her potential. (She did earn her gold medal in freestyle.) At the end of 1990, she turned professional and performed with Disney on Ice as well as several other productions, landing soloist and principal roles.
"When I turned professional, I found what I really loved about the sport was performing," she said. "Artistry is really my forte. I started doing choreography in between shows and on all my friends in the shows and myself. Really loved that aspect of skating and wanted to develop it further. That's when I pursued an education in choreography beyond my natural abilities to do it."
After training in Utah, she kept it as her home base and in 1997 returned there and entered the University of Utah's bachelor of fine arts program in dance.
"I learned a wealth of information that I had never really heard before within choreography technique for skating," Porter said. "It's something that completely changed my whole view of choreography and educated me in a new way."
During the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, she worked as an assistant cast coordinator for the opening and closing Ceremonies. She also choreographed an opening number that local skaters performed at the skating exhibition.
After graduating, she wanted to gain professional experience in the dance world, so she took at job with Ballet San Jose in California as associate school director where she taught modern dance and choreographed for the students. While in San Jose, she also founded American Ice Theatre, a nonprofit performance company that fuses dance with skating. AIT has performed throughout the San Francisco Bay Area as well as had full-length productions in 2004 and '08.
Porter also consulted with U.S. Figure Skating on its Theater On Ice program.
"They had asked me to put together an educational resource that took a lot of dance terminology and translated it for the ice," Porter said. "I created a dictionary of choreography.
"Even though I had that written work ... I saw there wasn't a full understanding of what I was describing," she added. "It dawned on me that it took more than the written language to fully understand and comprehend the information. It took actually teaching the material in a hands-on way in order for people to learn it."
Last spring, she did a pilot program that three students completed. One of them, Garrett Kling, saw his results in the Young Artists Showcase improve dramatically (Kling was a finalist in this year's contest). Porter said she could see a huge difference in the complexity and sophistication of his work after taking her class.
Her online course, master choreography techniques, addresses both artistic/show choreography as well as how to choreograph for competitive skaters.
"I'm really trying to put the perspective from all different ways," Porter said. "The group I have right now are very hungry for the knowledge.
"It took me so long to not only have an in-depth education about this information, but also to translate it to the ice," she said. "I'm compacting the information and making it available and accessible so they can utilize it in their work.
"I really hope to make an impact on the artistry of the sport. By educating people, that's how we'll really create an artistic community that will make a difference."