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MEET CORI

Hi! I’m Cori (she/they)- welcome to my fun, queer, neurospicy, dance/music/education-lover, values-based corner of the partner dance industry: Cori-ography Dance!  Cori-ography Dance is all about connection- how we learn from it, how we grow from it, and guiding people through experiencing and creating it.  It's a practice of the art of conversation, communication and collaboration.  Partner Dance is a form of social bonding across cultures and I'm committed to exploring how people can grow when they experience partner dance skills through that lens and creating shifts in the industry by honoring those roots.  You ever see people dancing together and realize what is catching your eye is the synergy they seem to be moving with?  No one is speaking, but they seem to be totally in sync- it's striking, it seems to be a magic that these special beings must only have with each other?  That's connection.  But what people misunderstand is that it must be an illusive, special magic that only some may have- it is magic, but it can in fact be felt and harnessed by anyone.  I believe this connection is the most alchemizing element in partner dance- and that by exploring it, it can have impacts well outside the bounds of a dance floor.  It can be found in any relationship- not just romantic ones. I specialize in demystifying this connection and letting people experience what it means to create and have access to this synergy and through this experience, learn about themselves and their partners- whether stranger, friend, coworker, or loved one- and what it really means to be a 'leader' or a 'follower'...on and off the dance floor. I work with: - Wedding couples to learn their perfect first dances whether that means a super basic, low key, just surviving the dance floor without feeling cripplingly awkward or a fully choreographed performance piece.  -Groups at conferences, events, and in corporate teams to explore and create engaging, interactive discussions about leadership, teamwork, and collaborative dynamics using fundamental but simple partner exercises.  -Couples in healing spaces and couples retreats to experience an intimate sense of connection and partnership.  -Performers to create the most impactful visuals and performances and feel their most confident on stage.  -Partner dance professionals to grow as business owners and educators.  I'm not your traditional dance instructor.  I am a teacher and educator, choreographer, performer, dancer and artist and I'm also a healer, a change-maker, a coach and a confidant. I pride myself on my human-first, holistic teaching methods and socially conscious business practices.   I set out to create the antithesis of traditional ballroom dance studios- from teaching techniques that create more progress and honor a student's goals + needs; to transparent sales systems that don't create high stress or pressure on wedding couples (you just want to get through a first dance without feeling like an a-hole and stepping on your partner, got it- I don't need to open your eyes to the magic of Tango and 5 other styles...let's just learn some solid partner dance fundamentals and keep eyes on the prize); to identity-considerate instruction and choreography for LGBTQIA+ couples;  to how we honor the socially significant origins of these dances and divest from the commodification of these culturally important art forms.    I can't wait to meet you and find out how my approach to partner dance can help you grow!

My Story

Hi, I'm Cori.

I came into the world with dance and music in my blood- I’ve always been obsessed with the feeling of both and fascinated by the power of the arts. I had the privilege to grow up studying both. In college, I was a linguistics and international affairs scholar which led me to studying at several places in the world. At one point, I wound up at the University of Buenos Aires to complete a semester there and while there needed to complete an independent research project for my graduation requirements.  My topic: ‘The Socio-Political and Cultural Role of Tango in Argentina.’ I was going to be researching for 8 months but it didn’t take more than 1 hour for me to fall head-over-heels for the artform.  As a 90s preteen who lived through the Swing Resurgence, my fascination with partnered styles was already there and it all felt like it came home with Tango. 

Argentine Tango has deep roots historically and culturally as a social dance and not only as a performance art.  And, it requires a deeply intricate and nuanced system of physical connection.  Through my experience with this style I developed a keen interest and respect for both connection and the power of a dance as a social movement.  It is this lens in combination with years working as an educator and professional performer and the always ongoing practice of being a student, that led me to develop my teaching methodology and business- Cori-ography Dance.

I worked briefly in the earliest days of my career for a large ballroom dance franchise- I had some wonderful memories made there, danced some great dances, staged some fantastic performances, met lifelong friends, had a lot of fun times, learned so many more styles of dance AND…I learned that as an industry, my values about dance, culture, business, and education were not in alignment with theirs.  I left with a lot of ideas on how I would not do things and it was valuable education.

I didn’t like the way people- neither students nor staff- were seen and treated at large; I didn’t like how curriculum and teaching methods sometimes seemed outdated and even harmful- everything from choreography to instruction was steeped in a lot of gender expectations and language; I didn’t like how dances were reduced to steps on a syllabus without any context about the histories, the cultures, the people they came from and no reverence for the significance of them.  The competition side that displaced and replaced a dance's roots or authentic nature with characterizations and at worst, performed brownface.  And the predatory sales practices prevalent in the industry. Everything was in service of sales before it was about teaching or people or the dances or even performance art.  It all left a really bad taste in my mouth…

and it inspired me to find a better way.  

I believe there is a much better way available as an industry where we can operate with human-first values- centering the student’s needs and education, honoring ourselves and those we serve as people, and paying respect to the artforms and their significance.  And I think that the element of connection is the most human aspect of partner dance and by focusing on the art of partnering, we are already shifting towards these values.

So I developed Cori-ography Dance both as an educator and as a brick-and-mortar studio owner to see this alternative come to life. 

It's been a helluva journey so far. I’ve independently served the communities I’ve been in since 2008 through the arts and education.  I opened my own studio in San Diego in 2015 and using my methods by 2020 had one of the largest market shares in a major city and served over 600 couples, families and students in southern California in that time with 5-star reviews.  I navigated chronic illness taking me down for a few years and making dancing impossible at one point; I navigated a pandemic and not one but two climate crises destroying my physical studio.  I had to pivot hard during the pandemic and moved across the country and ran the studio remotely, built and trained a new staff to deal with the world when things opened quickly; taught virtually for 2 years. I sold my boutique wedding studio in California to one of my mentees in 2022 and coached them on how to run a human-first, value-based business and I’m so proud to see them crushing their goals out there and carrying on that legacy.  I made my full transition into New England serving couples in my new community and now, nationally.  I certainly haven't done everything perfectly but I continued to learn about how I wanted to serve my community through it all, kept evolving, and always came back to how much I love teaching and how much joy I think dance brings people.

Now, I want to impact more people and larger audiences with the wonderful skills and insights partner dance has to offer us.  I want to take my knowledge and passion for connection and use it to help teams of people and even big groups of strangers explore what they can learn about themselves, communication, and leadership through these experiences.  I want to help other teachers and studio owners find business and teaching models that feel better to them and allow them to bring their values and hearts into their businesses and be successful.  I want to help other people like me who would also love to see the industry make shifts that honor all people and these artforms better.  And I still want to help couples find joy and laughter and connection through dance and honor that for most adults, they’re looking to access these experiences and skills without having any goals about becoming ‘dancers’.  I want to help couples feel confident, comfortable, and connected performing their first dances whether it’s super low-key and intimate or whether they want to make their guests audibly say WOW!  I want people to know they're cared for, aren't just dollar signs, and enjoy their experience learning to dance from start to finish. 

I’ve worked with hundreds of students- both non-dancers and dancers alike, couples, families, large school programs, and businesses to bring them the joy and impacts of partner dance with a focus on connection, fun, honoring the roots of these styles.  I’m honored to have been a part of hundreds of couples’ weddings and finding ways for them to feel seen and joyful together during first dances.  I’ve coached teachers to add new teaching methods to their arsenal so they get through to students in new ways, find more confidence as a professional, and build more trust with their students and serve them better.  I’ve coached studio owners to grow as entrepreneurs, to find financial freedom while uplifting themselves and their businesses with values that put people first, build communities with their clients that are full of love and trust, and feel better and more empowered going into their business everyday.  I continue to be a lifelong student of music and dance and traveled to so many amazing places and met amazing practitioners and keepers of these styles.  From Salsa and Son in Cuba to my earliest days in a small Tango room in Argentina, these experiences leave me changed each time.  And I continuously grow from all of it.

Ultimately, my mission is to help people grow. And I can’t wait to meet you and hear how I can help you do this with the beauty and joy of partner dance.

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My Philosophy:
Connection First 

What is connection +  why I believe in a 'connection-first' approach?

As humans, we encounter the importance and base desire for connection throughout our every day lives.  Whether in our romantic or platonic relationships, with people we work with, those in our community, with nature- human nature comes with this need for connection.  Even amongst the most introverted of us, it is a fundamental piece of wiring in our psyche.  We frequently experience moments of connection throughout our day in many ways- verbally, physically, emotionally- so we are attuned to the sense of 'being connected'. But so many of us feel like there's distance between these moments as they get muddled into everything else requiring our attention in our fast paced lives. Across cultures and history, partner dancing was a major piece of social bonding. It allowed a space where this connection was quite literally being centered in communities + families, between couples and friends and neighbors.  We do all have the internal sense of what it is to connect- but frequently in our modern day society in this country, we don't always make such space for it anymore.  We seek it out where we can- but I think there is something so impactful and poignant about exploring and centering this act of connecting through the multi-sense partner dance lens.  In psychology, they say there are 4 components to achieving connection- eye contact, touch, play, and presence. And they say that connection primes the brain for willingness. And as a big fan of the fields of psychology and neuroscience, this has greatly influenced why I think a connection-focused approach is the most impactful way to learn partnership skills of leading and following and dance. One, because partner dance- when done well- involves all 4 connection tools so by starting there, students feel deeply connected. And two, because once they achieve the sense of connection, suddenly the brain truly is primed and willing to try new things, absorb new information, be vulnerable enough with their partner to learn something new together and engage in the two-way communication required to achieve synergy. It is this amazing tool to bypass ego and resistance. And I've seen this approach make even the most defensive and cynical of partners peel away at least a layer or so of unwillingness. It is a sacred space that requires us to set aside distractions and focus solely on plugging into, paying attention, and being curious in play with another human. In the context of partner dance, connection is the glue that holds everything together- it's one of 3 primary systems that are happening when we partner dance but it's the 1 system that determines whether a dance is a 'partner dance' or not.  The elements that create partnered dancing are 1) the music which dictates systems of rhythm, musicality, and the feeling of the dance- it's the thing we're interpreting with 2) our movement.  This is the steps, forms, and the way we move our bodies and adds both structure and nuance.  Those first 2 elements define 'dance' of all kinds. But as soon as elements 1 and 2 need to be created with 2 people together to generate styles of dance called 'partner dance', we must have the third element- connection- or else it all falls apart and ceases to be partner dance.  Partner dance is not simply 2 people doing their own thing in each other's proximity or one partner telling the other partner to do something so they do it.  Partner dance is synergistic, requires team work and attentiveness, and is fused with our intuition, proprioception, interoception and tactile senses.  It means 2 people have agreed to a truly two-way conversation that will last the duration of the dance and are invested and interested in exploring that rapid fire give and take- and that conversation will be non-verbal, energetic and tactile. It requires an interdependence of a really good partnership.  And as you get really good at it, you go from 'shouting' at your partner (using too much force, strength or bigness in an attempt to signal) to simply a whisper through fingertips- yet it feels like they hear you better.  It's a practice in 'less is more' + gentle, authentic, attuned communicating. The connection in partner dancing is the delineating factor.  It's what makes these artforms so special.  Without connection, partner dancing in fact feels...off. And this is where you'll frequently find students complaining about how it 'feels' or being frustrated that even though they're using the tools they were given, that they're stepping on each other, etc.  Connection is kinetic and energetic communication, it is the source of the synergy that makes partner dancing feel so good when it's done right.  Often couples and dancers try and find work arounds for it or misinterpret it but this leaves at least one person in the partnership, if not both, feeling frustrated, lost, left out, disconnected, lonely in the dance.   Connection is not moving our partner.  Leading is not making your partner go somewhere or do something with just an initial signal.  It is staying in this system of connection through even a fingertip to sustain continual communication and a constant source of energy.  The constant source of energy being generated between the 2 partners through our weight, pressure, and tension is then used by both partners to create fluidity in the body, to power our movements, to smoothly continue on our unspoken conversation throughout the dance and maintain clarity in the communications.  It allows us to share our interpretations of the music and expression in an ongoing real-time event.  Without this magical ingredient, we're not really talking at all.  I liken learning how to utilize connection to finding fluency in a language.  Without it, both dancers might be repeating words and phrases they've learned and rehearsed, but it's not organic or conversational and they'll feel like they are only thinking of their own part.  But with it?  Suddenly, we're in an exchange.  We've plugged in to each other and are actually able to listen and volley- and then the joy factor, the feeling of fulfillment, or being seen and heard goes way up. My methodology centers connection first and treats it like the primary skill and experience we can access through partner dance.  I truly believe partner dance, when grounded in connection and communication, can improve lives and strengthen bonds- it helps us focus on how we relate to one another, how we show care and consideration and receive those things. It’s eye-opening, joy-fueling, and grounding- whether experienced once or over the course of several months. If music is the thing that brings us closer to something greater than ourselves, then movement is what brings us closer to the individuality of being in our own bodies, and connection is what bring us closer to the humanity of others. It's an incredible trifecta to experience.  Don't get me wrong, solo dance styles are just as magical- but the exclusive element of nonverbal kinetic and energetic communication in partner dance styles can truly change how someone relates to dance, others and themself.  It's the art of conversation- truly requiring a two-way street and something so many of us are missing in our current-day world.  It is a deeply human thing.  And it doesn't require any sort of innate ability to connect with movement and music which is what is required of a 'dancer'.  It's just human- the art of sharing, figuring out to communicate, an energy exchange.   I made it my mission to distill connection into something that a non-dancer can access and understand and see how it is the thread that connects everything happening when we dance- from the music, to their own movement, over to their partner’s movement.  And when the learning process begins in this very fundamental place, suddenly many things about dancing are less scary, more accessible, goals seem more possible.  It shifts the focus from the stress of needing to be a 'dancer' to something more innate like just being a human and a partner. The comfort and connection found by starting there can really help a student progress faster, move with more ease, and find much more joy in the process of sharing this learning experience with the person across from them as it shifts their lens on what they're doing from being performance-oriented and about them, to being about connecting with another.  For beginners, this shift generates much-needed mental space to be able to process more about movement in their body which can feel intimidating for many.  Through connection, we make dance about something as simple as the human need to connect and that is far more accessible to many people than when we approach it through our society's lens that has dictated that it is a performance art or only for those who are naturally geared to be dancers.  Connection is the great equalizer and makes partner dancing all about the social bonding experience again.

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The Cori-ography Method

Core Teaching Values

-Attentive listening and personalized discovery process for a clear understanding of a student's goals, wants and needs as well as their learning styles + personalities.  -Realistic analysis of timelines, event logistics, costume/space requirements, student's natural abilities or restrictions for curriculum building -Quality over quantity every time! No one needs 30 different elements done poorly which causes stress when trying to get them into muscle memory. Instead do 5 or 10 elements with confidence, ease, and comfort. Generally with beginners, more is not better- it is a recipe for stress, sloppy execution, discomfort, and disconnect. -Consideration of client's identities and ensuring student feels seen, respected + valued throughout instruction + choreography.  -Be genuinely invested in the learning journey and honored to be a part of it.  -Teach from a connection-first framework which allows students to access more progress, natural movement, and benefits of partnering.  -Be creative in teaching approaches- if something is not landing for a student, repeating it 8 more times is not going to change the outcome.  -If you're going to be a teacher, prioritize being a teacher when you're with your students.  Not a dancer, not a performer, not a competitor, not a salesperson.  Education should center the student- not the teacher. -Have a sense of humor and take a down-to-earth approach to education. Find the path of least resistance and most progress.  We're not curing cancer and we're not sending people to the Olympics- what we do is important and impacts people but there is no need to make it more stressful or serious than it needs to be or else we lose that positive impact! -Honor that most students who are adult beginners are learning simply for their weddings and do not have the goal of becoming dancers. Don't try and make every student into a dancer- deliver what they need, not a bunch of extras -Create a comfortable learning environment. Minimize stress and overwhelm- learning dance is all about connecting brain to body and these 2 are killers of those pathways building and get in the way of building confidence and joy. -Respect the origins and significance of these artforms when teaching them.

Core Business Values

-Human-first and heart-centered approach. Honor people's humanity- your own, your team's, your clients.  We are people before we are performers, workers, business owners, service providers, and students.  -View your clients as people and not sales.  -Put your heart into what you are doing.  Be invested in the quality of the service you provide.   -No outdated high-pressure sales tactics. Be transparent and forward about what you can offer a client. Service over Sales and the sales will happen as a result. -Do the work for a business that is inclusive + equitable -Be kind. Embrace boundaries. -Divest from commodification of people and these art forms- there is a better way.  Learn from and support artists who are from the culture. -Build community and support those in community with you.  -Lead with Values and Impact.

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'Partner Dance' v. 
'Ballroom Dance'

Seeking Shifts in a Problematic Industry

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