A group of young dancers spun into Principle Dance Studio in Forest Park on Jan. 27, preparing for a master class taught by performers from Hamilton, a global musical sensation about the life of one of America’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton.
MacKenzie Jamieson, a 17-year-old at Oak Park and River Forest High School, said she received the gift from her parents for Christmas.
“It was chill — calm, yet educating,” Jamieson said of the master class.
When the Hamilton performers arrived on Sunday, she said they started by going through a light warm-up — stretching, yoga, a little ballet. The class then discussed the different types of dance, going through everything from African to modern expression. Once they finished their warm-up, they spent the next 45 minutes learning the story and steps behind “The Room Where It Happens,” the popular jazzy show tune from the musical, which tells the story of a secret political deal that moved the country’s capital.
Jamieson tried not to think too hard about the steps and feel the music instead.
“I think a lot of people are like, ‘Count in your head.’ But I gotta feel the music, I gotta go with the flow,” she said.
Afterward, the Hamilton performers divided the dancers into groups, and offered advice such as, “When you walk into an audition, try not to portray yourself as someone you aren’t. Go in there and be yourself; that will show off more than being another person.”
The advice resonated with Jamieson, who’s been dancing since she was 3 years old. She started by studying basic ballet and went on to compete in jazz and tap competitions — and win.
“Tap is my main genre. For me it’s the best way to go out and express myself,” she said.
After a few years, Jamieson realized she needed to move on from her Westchester studio, agreeing with her teachers and parents that there was nothing more for her to learn. She heard about Principle, went to the studio and eventually saw one of the owners perform a tap routine, striking his feet in combinations she hadn’t yet learned. “This is at a higher level than I’m at,” she thought, and enrolled in the classes.
As she finishes her junior year of high school, Jamieson has now been dancing for 14 years. Originally, her plans post-OPRF were to go on to college and major in business and minor in dance. But now she’s looking at schools outside of Chicago where she can focus on her art.
“I want to own my own studio, I want to have my own competition team, I want it all, I want everything,” she said. “If it’s Latin fusion, if I’ve never taken it before, I’ll try it. Tap, jazz, ballet, I’m always trying to expand my horizons.”