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CHOREOGRAPHER, PERFORMER, INSTRUCTOR  & GUEST LECTURER

Betsy Baytos, an expert in Eccentric Dance, has researched and trained in this visual comedic style for the past 30 years. Her animation background with Walt Disney Studios provides a solid approach and unique perspective to her subject, since both Eccentric and animation are wrapped around ‘character’ and exaggerated movement.

As a result, Betsy has choreographed animation for the feature films “Pete’s Dragon”, “Mickey’s Christmas Carol ”, “Banjo the Woodpile Cat”, “The Emperor’s New Groove”, and most recently, Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog”. During her time at Disney, Betsy choreographed ‘characters’ for Shelley Duvall’s Faerietale Theatre’s “Pinocchio” with Paul Rueben, Michael Richards & John Belushi, and her own creation, the ‘Betsy Bird” for Jim Henson’s “The Muppet Show” in London. Her Betsy Bird was then featured in a ‘pas de deux’ for the Muppet’s first live performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Betsy has conducted ‘animation-in-dance’ workshops around the country for the Disney Channel, including “Cable In The Classroom” as well as ‘live’ character touring shows, such as ‘Rock Around the Mouse’, for Disney in New York. Following her passion for Eccentric Dance, Betsy lectured and instructed master classes including the Dance Festival’s “Salute To Vaudeville” at Durham, North Carolina, the Walker Arts Museum in Minnesota, San Francisco State University, Disney’s ‘Night of Eccentric Dance’ at the Alex Theatre in Los Angeles, the Ringling Bros. “Clown College” Alumni Celebration, the Fred Astaire Conference at Oxford University in England, the Arizona Biltmore, Chapman College and Cal Arts in California.

Her comic performances featured on the Steve Allen show, at New York’s Carlisle Hotel and the Julliard school, in the Broadway musical ‘Stardust’ and touring with Will B. Able’s ‘Baggy Pants & Co.’ vaudeville/burlesque show, proved invaluable in developing Betsy’s later expertise as a Vaudeville specialist, Eccentric consultant and choreographer for Cirque Du Soleil.

As an instructor and specialist in ‘character movement’, Betsy continues to choreograph animation, lecture and teach Eccentric workshops at various studios, universities and dance companies around the world, exposing them to the early Eccentric Dance and visual comedic influences. Betsy is near completion on an exhaustive Documentary on the subject, featuring rare footage and interviews with Eccentric legends.

 

THE PROCESS: ANIMATION CHOREOGRAPHER

Betsy collaborates with the Directors and creative team to bring a wealth of research and historical reference for early inspiration, as well as contemporary material, which will further augment the story and character. She then works closely with the supervising animators to assist them with development of individual characters, the use of costume in relation to movement and how a character might walk, dance or gesture, all elements that will enhance their personality. A casting call follows for well trained, diverse and flexible dancers designed to match the animated personality they will represent through movement. Betsy, with direction from the supervising animator and the Director, then choreographs their Eccentric, exaggerated improvisation to match key frame timing as well as to create character through individual improvisation.

LECTURES, CHOREOGRAPHY & MASTER CLASSES

For Lectures, Betsy brings her rare private collection of Eccentric Dance film footage and can tailor a presentation to any audience, including demonstration and discussion.
For Workshops and Classes, Betsy will tailor her instruction to fit the groups requirements and individual training, on any level.
On Productions, working closely with Directors and Choreographers, Betsy consults to bring the Eccentric technique to enhance an existing routine or to create an original piece for a performance.

“The key for Eccentric choreography, whether for animation or in dance, is using the entire body as a ‘language in movement’, for even a walk and the simplest of gestures can support and reinforce the character. The exaggerated movement defines the comedic or dramatic element, but even though it’s embellished, there must be a reason why a character looks and moves the way it does. It is action and reaction, with every gesture in its extreme. This will define the ‘physical’ template, the language that defines character.”...............Betsy Baytos