Bree Hafen’s Latest News
By Chelsea Thomas of Dance Informa.
Bree, where are you dancing and teaching at the moment?
“Right now I have three main focuses. First of all, I have a studio here in Dallas that I work and teach for on a weekly basis. I am a resident choreographer there and we are right in the thick of competition and convention season right now. We are also hosting a bunch of auditions for summer intensives too. So, I am busy traveling with my students and choreographing contemporary, lyrical and jazz pieces here at the studio, called Academy of Dance Arts (ADA).
Secondly, I’ve also got my freelance career where I am traveling to different studios across the country and setting pieces on dancers and leading master classes. I also judge and teach convention classes with VIP Dance. Then, in addition to these things, I also lead and direct my own company [+]Space, which started after I was one of the award winners at the 2012 Capezio A.C.E. Awards. It is a professional, paid company for dancers 18 years and older that is supported by Dallas Repertoire Ballet. We will be presenting another show in Dallas this summer.”
Can you share a little more about where you have recently taught and led master classes and workshops?
“Probably one of the most exciting moments was going out to Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah where they have a dance team called the Cougarettes, who have been national champions since the late 1990s. I was actually a member of the Cougarettes and they have a very technically-trained and artistic company. So they asked me to come out and set a concert piece on them to be added to their repertory. They’ll be performing that in a couple weeks and I’m very excited to see them in the piece.
Recently, I’ve also led master classes and taught choreography at private dance studios in Illinois and Alabama, plus Florida and Idaho. I also have been asked to come teach master classes at Southern Methodist University here in Dallas. That’s exciting as well!
Beyond that, my dance blog has recently been noticed and I have been invited to be a guest blogger on Dance Studio Nation, VIP Dance online and The Dance Exec. The Dance Exec also recently invited me to be a part of a collaboration at their upcoming seminar in New York City this year. Overall, as you can probably tell, I like to keep my toes dipped into many different pools. [Laughs.]”
With your choreography, what have you been working on? Have there been any specific topics or themes you’ve been focusing on?
“I’m very much into vivid storytelling and often pull upon themes or stories for my choreography. For my BYU piece I did recently, which is called Divine Pathway, it is all about faith and how our destiny is laid out before us. So how it works is there is one soloist who begins on this journey and as she moves across the stage, the dancers form her pathway. They are creating moments with her and creating her destiny as her journey winds from one side of the stage to the next. It shows how everything happens for a reason.
Another work I did with my company [+]Space was Healing, which is a more literal and vivid storyline about a husband and wife who have a little child and how the wife goes off to war and she doesn’t make it. So the stage is filled with angels who are trying to bring this man to find new love. The mom returns as an angel and assists in trying to help him move on and be happy. She wants her daughter to have a mother and her husband to accept what’s happened and move on…
I’ve also been working on a piece with ADA that’s called The Process of Opening a Door. The storyline is about how people, and dancers especially, are given opportunities and how we have to go through many doors being slammed in our face before we can find the right opportunity. So there is a soloist in this dance who is being manipulated and tossed around by other dancers, and as she goes on she gains strength and she learns how all of the doors closing are eventually leading to the right door opening. So it’s ultimately about maintaining your resolve and moving forward.”
And through all of this, whether choreographing or teaching, how do you approach working with dancers and students?
“When working with any dancer, I like to focus in on what she particularly has and achieves that is great. I want to further enhance her strengths and at the same time, really focus in on the things that she needs to work on. One of my passions is finding specific ways to really reach each individual dancer. There are certain phrases and exercises that will work for individual dancers, but not for others. It’s been a personal challenge of mine to never give up on any dancer, but to find out at least one thing I can do to help and boost every dancer’s confidence. It’s my passion to make every dancer feel special and like she really has something to give. While working with my adult dancers in my company is artistically nourishing, I also love working with and leading young teens and helping them realize their potential.”
How do you balance your work with raising your children?
“Everything I do in my career has to work with my family; obviously they are my number one priority in my life. I have two young children and they are at the age where I don’t want to miss anything, any little smile or laugh. So it can be difficult as I juggle and balance dance and family. I am doing everything I can to be the best mom but also to fulfill my dreams. So for now, I am sending resumes out and making small steps here and there to bigger opportunities but at the same time, I’m happy where my career is now. So we’ll just see what happens. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.”
What are some future aspirations you have?
“There are a lot! I always have something on the back burner. Right now though, my focus is to get back to dancing full time again. I have had three hip surgeries in the past year and a half so it’s been a long, long road. I have gone from being the type of teacher who dances full out in every class, hitting full tilts and having the big extensions, to a different teacher who uses imagery and descriptions more often. But for now, I am really looking forward to my full recovery when I can dance again. So I’m doing a lot of physical therapy, Pilates and muscle activation therapy, trying to get myself back on my feet physically.”
Through your recovery, teaching and choreographing, what are your favorite Capezio items to wear?
“I always wear the Aerial pointe shoes. They are my favorites. I also have my Capezio jazz boots that I love. And my favorite cami-leotard is definitely my purple Capezio one that fits perfectly and never gives me a weggie. I wear it all the time. For me, Capezio is the best dancewear provider because they have such a history and they know how to fit a dancers’ body perfectly. I believe in everything they stand for and am thankful for all they do to make dancers feel even more confident on stage.”
Shortly after chatting with Dance Informa, Hafen was also hired by the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders to teach master technique and combo classes for the squad. Congrats!
Photos: Bree Hafen. Photos by Elizabeth Leighton, courtesy of Bree Hafen.