by Wendy Niemi Kremer
You're one of my favorite choreographers on video. How did you get started teaching and creating innovative choreography?
When I was a little girl, my best friend took dance classes every week. My parents couldn't afford for me to take dance classes--understandable, considering they were raising 8 children. Since my best friend and I were inseparable, I was graciously allowed to go along and site in the corner to watch. Each time I came home, I would go out on the back patio of my home and do everything my friend learned during class, plus more. As time went on I continued to make up routines and eventually became quite good at it.
While in elementary and middle school, I would choreograph dance routines (tap and modern jazz) and my best friend and I would enter talent shows. We were good, really good! In high school I was a choreographer for our school "Dance Production Team." I was in charge of creating the modern jazz routines.
When I was old enough to get a job, I used some of my earnings on dance lessons. Out of school, I got involved with office work and accounting. Yuck! I needed to move, not sit at a desk. At age 22, my husband and I started our family. My pregnancy was a blessing in two ways, my beautiful son Jeremy (now 14), AND, my escape from office work to be home with my son. Within 6 months after he was born, I started my fitness career. The rest is history!
WNK: What's your favorite type of class to teach, and why?
CT:Probably high/low. I like it for the way it makes me feel. I get this feeling…it's just so much fun! I teach a little bit of everything, though. Step, double step, strength training, cycle reebok, kids classes, prenatal classes, etc.
WNK: You are about to shoot a new CIA (Creative Instructors Aerobics) video. Could you share some details about the type of workout, structure of the routine, music? Cool steps to look out for?
CT: I can be such a "pain" in the rear end. Greg Twombly from CIA is so nice to me. He always knows that when I do a video that he'll hear from me regarding my music options. Usually I'm whining. I'm in a desperate search to find that "perfect music." Aren't we all. I appreciate his patience, and Dynamix too.
The new video is very advanced, both cardiovascularly and technically. There is a full hour of hi/lo. There's a warm up combo, then a short stretch, then we go back into our warm up combo, now labeled as combo #1 for the cardio section. There are three 64 count combinations, a perceived exertion check, then three more 64 count combinations. After that is a short cool down where we'll "walk like an Egyptian" then a stretch.
The one hour step section is much more complex than my #7002 video. After a warm up on the step, you'll get three 64 count combos with the step in the horizontal position, a heart rate check, then three more 64 count combos with the step in a vertical position. After that a short cool down and a stretch. There is so much choreography in this video that I just about run out of tape. When you watch it, see if you notice the theme of rhythms and cha cha's.
WNK: How long does it take you to prepare a routine for video? What are the steps involved for you in designing a video workout?
CT: I take preparation for a video or conference VERY seriously. If I'm going to have a single workout preserved on video, I want an exact script! Then, if I make a mistake, it's a fluke. I always have the script to fall back on if I lose my train of thought. Which I do often.
I have my own regimen, a calendar that I stick to. A few months in advance, I try to have the choreography thought out in my mind. I spend the last month typing the choreography script and the transitional script, making sure they are perfect 32 count phrases. Also during that month I do the routine over and over, videotaping myself every day or every other day. I videotape myself from behind so I always have a handle on my "rights" and "lefts." I replay the tapes in the evenings, listen to my mistakes, take notes and fix the boo boos during the next shooting. This is the time when I beg my family for their patience. They understand.
During this time, I give the best of the taped rehearsals to my girls, Michelle and Julie (the first two videos I had Yinka Davies. She's a doctor now and will be on call the weekend we shoot. Michelle and I will miss her but Julie is a GREAT addition). This gives them plenty of time to be prepared. It isn't until the last 2 weeks that we rehearse as a group. Generally, by 3 days before filming (today) I've worked out all the kinks.
WNK: Do you make a point of trying to get into optimum shape before filming a video?
CT: Not really. I want people to see me as I am. I don't even want someone to publish a picture of me that doesn't look like me. In fact, in most of the promo pics I send out, I'm all sweaty. I figure, that's what I'm going to look like when they see me. Not surprisingly, at conventions I get recognized in a second!
WNK: Video Fitness readers have noticed that you tend to "sing your cues" or hum along with the music. How important is music to you in designing a combination?
CT: Music is very important. When music comes on, choreography starts multiplying in my head. Some instructors would kill for the choreography I have in my head that I can't possibly use. There's just too much and not enough classes. God has blessed me with this gift and I thank Him every day for it.
I develop the choreography before I pick the music. I create the steps from the waist down, then I pick the music. Once I have the music, then I create the arm movements to fit the music. Between the choreography and the music there is a connection. The connection is me. My personal movement style, technique and love for the music is what I use to bring the package together. Walla!
WNK: What's the music like for the new CIA video?
CT: The step music I have heard before on a previous video, but not much. Even so, it's such a powerful tape, I'm using it. The second half of the step has a different tape. Absolutely awesome. The high/low music is fabulous too. Thank you Dynamix. Music is important, if it "lights me up" I know I'll do a good job.
WNK: How long does the filming take? Do you do multiple takes or is it a one-shot deal?
CT: My last video, which was 2 hours long, took about 2 and a half hours to shoot. No fooling around! I believe you should just, as my husband says "do it."
WNK: Besides the new video, what's next for you professionally?
CT: I'm very happy with where my career is right now. Any more big projects and I would have to sacrifice something at home. This is not an option. My husband and children are most important to me. I love being known and respected by my peers. I'm not crazy about becoming a "Blockbuster Video" girl. I always watch my image. It is very important to me that my children (both boys) are not affected by my career choices. This is why you will never see a half naked or seductive picture of me on the front of my videos. I like being the "girl next door."
Although, there is a possibility I might do a "stages" video series. Beginner to advanced. My husband (manager) and I have been talking about it. Who knows?
Christy's new video, CIA 9801 - Double Impact Workouts, is now available on the CIA Web site. You can email Christy at firstname.lastname@example.org