Posted March 9, 2009
Spotlight on Hylan Scott: Master of movement
By Gina Gareri-Watkins
, instructor of theatre, performance studies and dance, often starts off his social dancing class by asking students to supply a joke prior to warm-ups. “I justify it by saying that joke-telling is a part of being ‘social’ and that this is a ‘social dance’
class,” explains Scott.
“What’s your joke?” Scott calls out as students methodically change from street shoes to dance shoes. “What did the table say when it was robbed?” replies a student. “Take a seat!”
Understanding what will loosen up and inspire students is a specialty of Scott’s, as he combines years of professional dancing and choreography with his experience at Kennesaw State University. After earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Webster University in St. Louis, Mo., Scott moved to New York City where he danced alongside Broadway greats Tommy Tune, Ann Reinking and Joel Grey. It wasn’t long before he made his own mark as both dancer and actor on Broadway and national and European tours.
Scott found the Broadway experience enlightening. “I spent six and a half years in New York, and it was fantastic. There was no greater education. Working with people at the top of their form was phenomenal.” He left New York with a new mission. “I knew my love was to create a learning environment with teaching.” With his extensive background in musical theatre and dance, Scott found work quickly as a movement consultant and choreographer. His work appeared on stages in Missouri, Florida, Alabama and Atlanta, where it found its way to Kennesaw State in the 2000 Studio Theater production of “Arabian Nights.”
Scott eventually expanded his guest choreographer resume to include director and staff instructor when he was recruited in 2007 by John Gentile
, chair of the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies at KSU. Gentile had arranged a meeting with artistic director and coordinator of recruitment L. Dean Adams
where Adams presented Scott with a “wish list” of projects. It was Scott’s love of the department and its that prompted his immediate acceptance, and Scott continues to admire KSU’s students and theatre and dance programs. “There’s been a phenomenal change in the program, and I love working with the university students. You have such an opportunity to meet so many different students here, and I love talking to those students.” Scott teaches “Improvisation,” “Musical Theatre Dance Styles,” “Movement for the Performer,” “Performing the Iliad” and “Social Dancing.”
Whether the rumba, waltz, tango, fox trot, cha-cha, line dance or triple time swing, Scott’s “Social Dancing” students are comfortable with their routines under his direction. His “Musical Theatre Dance Styles” course feature both classic and contemporary Broadway dances, including the Charleston, soft-shoe, swing, partner, line and stylized dance routines, with an occasional clogging and hoedown thrown in just for fun.
Scott’s experience and signature style of choreography encourage a new generation of dancers who learn from his holistic approach. “Dancing is just organized walking. You learn the patterns, and they all link together,” explains Scott. “You are always grounded in the earth, moving from the center, and you form this beautiful frame.”
Scott often explores the intersection between the performing and spiritual arts in his “Movement for the Performer” classes. Former student Mary Wolfson learned more than practical directions for the stage, as Wolfson describes Scott’s teaching as a blend of instructional and spiritual methods. “I learned a lot about movement for the stage, but I also learned a lot about connecting with the audience. He teaches us to keep our minds clear of distraction so that we’re open to what the other people in the class are doing. By introducing meditation and reflective journals, we learned how to connect our thoughts in order to have deeper understandings of ourselves and the characters we would play.”
Scott also explores the intersection between the performing and healing arts, as he is a master-level practitioner of both dance and Reiki, the Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that promotes healing. In addition, Scott conducts mobility classes for an adult day care program in an East Point facility and practices “Yoga as Peace in Action.”
Scott’s teaching methods continually prompt his students to connect their internal thoughts with their external movements, prompting a deeper understanding of themselves and the place they hold on both the private and public stages.