As if there wasn’t enough to see and do, attendees of this year’s TEDxSalem event “Through the Looking Glass” will be treated to a performance by Salem’s own Tippy Toe Dance Studio.
The studio focuses on ballet, but also teaches hip-hop, contemporary, and pas de deux, along with fitness classes and competitive dancing.
Those who came out to 2015’s “Fearless” event will remember their lights-out combination performance with the TruRoot breakdancing squad.
We sat down recently with studio founder Rebecca Swisher, 32, and studio manager Nicole Tea-Pelley, 20, about their upcoming performance.
TEDx Salem: Tell us about the start of the studio.
Rebecca Swisher: “We created it in 2009, and I had been working locally as a choreographer for quite some time. And I kept being asked by friends and people that I would meet in the community: ‘Oh, could you just teach my child dance, or my friend dance,’ and so I started with just a handful of students, actually in my backyard, we built a small studio for it.
And I just kept thinking, if I’m going to have a studio, I wanted to do it differently than studios had been in the past. So, we’ve really grown into this family…We really focus on dancers finding their individuality, their own creativity, and just feeling free to express themselves in any way. And we’ve really become a family out of that.”
Nicole Tea-Pelley: “From the ground up from the little kids to the oldest dancers – We have people who are in their later twenties here – everybody knows every other person who dances at the studio, and we all can build off of that, and we become better dancers off of that.
We all have different traits and you’ll see that in every studio, but compared to other places that I’ve seen, we really embrace that, and we use that to make ourselves better and more well-rounded.”
TxS: How do you feel your performance will align with this year’s theme, “Through the Looking Glass?”
RS: “…when I think of TEDx, I think of a safe place where people come together to share ideas, and how it has this ripple effect within our community when we share ideas with each other. When thinking ‘through the looking glass,’ I thought of that and put it on a larger scale.
Our piece expresses not always going with just the norm, not always just fitting in a particular social group or way of thinking… We’re trying to express to people being open to new ways of thinking and really experiencing freedom from that.
Once you’re willing to challenge the way you’re thinking a whole new world can open up to you.”
TxS: What can the TEDx audience look forward to? What are you going to hit us with?
NTP: “They won’t just see dancers on a stage – they’re going to see real people, and the real emotions that people go through, as they, as Becca was saying, break out of the norm of society and really connect with something in themselves.
Because no matter what somebody’s journey is, everybody has gone through something similar to that, in one way or another. With this piece we are really trying to connect with people on that level. We get really real, we get to points where we’re not doing specific moves, but we’re just being ourselves, and I think that people will really be kind of shocked by that. And it’ll make them think really hard.”
RS: “There’s also a little bit of surprise elements in the dances, of pairing together different styles of dance that you wouldn’t normally think of putting together.”
TxS: Tell me there’s going to be breakdancing!
RS: “There’s a little bit of break in there, yeah.” (laughs)
TxS: How do you keep it fresh?
RS: “Well, I don’t pay attention to what other people are doing. We definitely do things our own way, and we all play a part in choreography, and we move the way we’re feeling.”
TxS: What do you want to accomplish at TEDxSalem this year?
RS: “I want to feel like our message has been heard, and I think TEDx is a really good platform for that. For me as an artist, when I have something that I need to express, I need to be able to know that I was heard or I was seen, and it’s like something in me that has to get that out.”
NTP: “I’m excited about the connection between the audience and us. TEDx has audience members from all walks of life, but definitely there’s a strong sense of people who do have the artistic and creative minds there. And I think that if we can connect with some of those people and impact some of those people, that’s where we get really cool new and big ideas, and that’s where that flow starts to go that we really are inspired by.”
TxS: Now this is really important – How are you going to avoid hitting the TEDxSalem sign when you dance?
RS: “That’s a really good question. We’ve actually been taping out our studio [floor], to say if you cross this line of tape you are going to be hitting the TEDx sign. So right now that’s our plan of attack.”
Learn more about the studio at www.tippytoedancestudio.com, and join us Jan. 6 to catch ’em live on our stage.
Get your tickets for TEDxSalem V
TEDxSalem V is an all-day event featuring talks, performances, refreshments, lunch and a swag bag that takes place Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, at the Salem Convention Center. Purchase tickets here. Follow us on Facebook for the most up-to-date news from our community, and check our website regularly for new information. You can also reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.