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Alumni Spotlight // Dance

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In Good Company
Dance alum Heidi Buehler, `08, returns to the classroom with Invertigo

Practicing dance moves in a class can become mechanical, even for the professionals. But this was not the case for those who participated in the Invertigo Dance Theatre master class at the UCSB dance department’s modern dance studio this week. The Los Angeles-based company’s athletic approach to dance, brought to the classroom by Invertigo’s artistic director Laura Riley and UCSB dance alum Heidi Buehler, who graduated with a dance degree in 2008, kept over a dozen first-year students on their toes during the two-hour session.

“Focus is not an excuse to lose technique!” said Riley as she moved with the class in a series of different poses. “Move from your bones, from your guts.”

“You need to feel the connection with the ground,” added Buehler. Her physique, honed by frequent rehearsals, circuit-training and company dance classes, was itself a teaching point for the students. “One of the students during the Q&A portion of the class asked how to get into the professional world,” she said. “It’s really important to keep training after graduation. If you want to have a career, you need to keep in top shape.”

Master classes at UC Santa Barbara often involve alumni who return to share their skills and experiences with students in a classroom setting. “This was my first time to teach a class here,” said Buehler. “It brought back a lot of memories. I have such a positive association of my time at UCSB. I was really happy because we got to work with freshmen who had only been at school a month or so and were so willing and open to just jump right in.”

For performers like Buehler, coming to UCSB to teach a class during a tour performance stopover was a welcome chance to reconnect with mentors like her former modern dance teacher Nancy Colahan, who facilitated the master class opportunity. “Nancy was so patient,” she said. “At the time, I had no modern dance training. She made modern dance very accessible – for me as a ballet dancer, it was a big scary thing. Now, it’s what I do – I’m a contemporary modern dancer.”

After performing Reeling with Invertigo here in Santa Barbara, Buehler will to return to Los Angeles to train and perform with two other dance companies in the area. A dedicated professional, she admires dancers who continue to break barriers in her field. “I’m 30 years old,” she said. “In my own community, to see older dancers that are in great shape, at the peak of their careers, is inspiring. So seeing alumni who are successful, who figured out how to do it right, who promote their strengths - it’s inspiring and so important for young people.”
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