Cirque de Soleil performer teaches dance techniques

Sabrina de Brito

Broadway dancer Ari Loeb ’97 taught an excerpt of finale choreography from the musical “Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark” to advanced classes on Oct. 1 and held an open Q&A after school in which he offered advice to students about breaking into a performing arts career.

Loeb, who has performed in a Cirque de Soleil movie, encouraged students to “just go for it” and try to create opportunities for themselves. If something needs to be done on a show or in a dance company, Loeb suggested, it’s best to jump at the chance and get it done. Putting in effort and showing genuine interest pays off, Loeb said, and can result in big breaks down the road.

“He was so much fun and he taught us unique and interesting choreography that we all really enjoyed,” Aurora Huisa ’17 said.

Loeb said that he’s known he wanted to pursue dance ever since he was 12 years old. He attended and took dance classes at Harvard-Westlake from seventh till 11th grade, leaving early to pursue an education in modern dance at the State University of New York, Purchase College.

“I love the intricate movement and the collaboration [of dance],” Loeb said.

He related to the students his initial struggles of living on low income and having to perform on subways to keep himself afloat when he wasn’t working. From there, Loeb was accepted into the Momix Dance Company and toured more than 300 cities in two years as dance captain in 2002.

“It was just really interesting because usually you only see the success of a performer, not the hardships that came before and he told us about all of the hardships and the rewards,” Jane Lee ’17 said.

Loeb’s love for dance never faltered and next he joined the dance company Pilobolus. He said he was particularly drawn by the “intricate collaboration” of everyone involved, and how that showed through in the choreography.

A full contract from Cirque de Soleil to perform in the documentary “Delirium” followed shortly after in 2008, taking Loeb on tours across the globe. Though Loeb said he really enjoyed his time at Pilobolus, he said he was really excited to be a part of Cirque de Soleil.

“It was so incredible. There were acrobats and clowns and circus people and trampolines. It was so fun,” Loeb said. “I was doing things I never imagine I’d be doing,” Loeb said.

Loeb acted as a “swing” and dance captain for the Broadway production “Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark,” supervising all of the male dancers involved in the and assisting in choreography. After, Loeb performed in “Kung Fu”, a biographical play about Bruce Lee that blended dance and martial arts, and introduced Loeb to the world of stage combat that he’d come to really enjoy and take an interest in.

“It’s just like dance choreography except with fists,” Loeb said. “And I loved it.”

He hopes to break into film and TV, specializing in choreography of stage-fighting, as the techniques are similar to that of dance, said Loeb. He’s excited for this new chapter of his life, back in his hometown Los Angeles for almost two months now, and is looking forward to his next dance-related adventure.

“Inspiration comes when you least expect it and it just sweeps you off your feet,” Loeb said.