LINDSEY IHSA HEADSHOT

Lindsey Lococo

Lindsey Lococo is the coach and choreographer for the University of Illinois – Chicago Dancing Flames, but her fantastic choreo can also be seen on other high performing teams.  She shares with us her choreo process, what she does to keep things fresh for game day, how she cleans routines, and she also shares some great stories and lessons that she’s learned along the way.

Why she loves coaching at UIC:  “I think we’re a school located in a big city and the challenge there is that there are so many other opportunities for the young kids that are coming to you. I feel like it’s not that they’re coming to a campus, they’re coming to a city, and they have they have all of these other opportunities and I did it, I experienced it while I was there. I wasn’t just on the dance team. I was doing other dance projects and dance companies. So I think the challenge is that there’s just so much opportunity for them to do other things. Sometimes it can be hard to find people that can commit as much time and energy as we need on a team can be difficult.  I love our school. I love just the energy that we have. We’re a very non-traditional school. I think that that’s what makes us different is that our games have a different energy about them.  It’s a younger school. We haven’t had the same traditions for the last hundred years. It’s kind of cool because it allows us to create new traditions and change it up.”

The biggest coaching challenge:  “I definitely think the hardest thing is the balance and kind of finding that with college students especially.  They’re adults and they’re starting to experience those real life situations and as a coach you want to help as much as you can.  When your kids are hurting, you’re hurting. At the college level some of them are living on their own now for the first time and the responsibilities and their own lives are different and I think  that can sometimes be a challenge. I think the best way to kind of address some of that is just to be really like a resource.  If I don’t know the answer, where can we find the resources?”

Keeping game day fun:  “We’ve had pretty much all of the the decades every year for the past few years. We’ve done seventies, eighties, nineties, movies, some boy band stuff happening, We’ve done Star Wars games. We had Storm Trooper masks and we did a performance, we had a really cool remix and then Sparky our Dragon came out and was Darth Vader.  Instead of t-shirt tosses, we were throwing out hot dogs, just everything that are staples to to the city and the music that we were dancing to relates to the city of Chicago. I don’t know if a lot of people will get this but we passed an inflatable cow around the stand and all the way to the fire because the cows started the Chicago Fire.”

Cleaning routines:  “I always have a plan for the practice. If I know that we want to get through a certain section. I’m thinking maybe 15-20 seconds, then I want to go through in that day, depending on the length of the practice.  So really planning like, you know, Tuesday, we’re going 0 to 15 seconds and we’re really going to focus hard on this section. Then I usually take it four 8 counts at a time.   We also use the Coach’s Eye app. It’s like kind of building up from the small and then working towards your full runs.  We actually before Nationals we have everyone do it as a solo.  And I just got a Bluetooth projector that goes with my iPad so we can watch videos as a team during practice.”

Trends:   “I feel like maybe on the Jazz contemporary aside, you’re definitely seeing across becoming just a stronger influence in what we’re doing, but on the flipside for hip-hop,  we’re starting to see less tricks and I really enjoy that, I really love that. We’ve really kind of seen teams go back to fundamental hip-hop and movement as opposed to having to do big power moves. And I think it’s good to have both. I think it’s great to have balance of both, but it’s nice to see that the the fundamental techniques of certain genres and Hip-Hop are kind of being recognized and rewarded as well as just like the big, big trick moment.”

Her choreography process:  “I’m ‘team music first.’ I have to I have to find a song that this kind of jumps out at me or songs, you know, if it’s going to be a mix of songs that are going to jump out at me. And again, making sure that it’s something that you know the coach and I will usually talk about it, but at the end of the day, I want to make sure that the kids like it  I know some coaches don’t allow their kids to have necessarily input, but like kind of being on that page that they’re going to  want to practice it for 5 months.   So music for me first and then usually I chart my music and I’ll find the highs and lows, those big moments where  I can kind of create some big build or maybe it is a skill and maybe it’s just some sort of big visual and then I’m usually thinking of shapes first so I do a lot of my staging first, move my forms and see where it’s going and kind of see the shapes that I’m creating, then I’ll usually go back in and put the meat in of the choreography.”

Keeping current:  “I definitely think  there’s so much opportunity and there’s, so much dance out there, so kind of  keeping a pulse on what’s happening in whatever genre,  paying attention to all genres and kind of see what’s happening. I think sometimes we stay in our own State bubble. Watching Nationals obviously is like a great way to kind of see stuff, but globally is important too.  I think continuing to attend clinics or attend sessions has been the most valuable thing to me the past couple of years. I think we’ve had more opportunity to do that and there’s just been more events for us. But trying to connect with other coaches and choreographers, kind of keeping a pulse on everything that’s happening and just kind of branching out from your region.”

Advice to other coaches:  “Don’t be afraid to reach out to other coaches and build a community. I think having a community of coaches that you could talk to or other dance Educators.   There are so many people that probably don’t understand what we’re going through as coaches.  Find someone that can relate to what you are going through and what you’re experiencing.”