Equipoise: The Life and Work of Alfredo Corvino
By Dawn Lille
Dance and Movement Press



In a nutshell: The teaching wisdom of Alfredo Corvino.

Alfredo Corvino sprinkled his teaching with a special brand of whimsy and gentle humor. But behind the humor was his drive to instill both the technical and aesthetic understanding for artistry. Dawn Lille captures these qualities, and Corvino’s pervasive humanity, in her biography of this master ballet teacher. In the book’s forward, Dominique Mercy, of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, thanks Corvino for helping her understand the human body’s mechanics, musicality and dynamics of movement, but laments she has one thing yet to learn from him: “how to travel with such a small suitcase, no matter where and for how long!” This attribute characterizes Lille’s depiction of Corvino as a man whose only “baggage” in the classroom was his wisdom, knowledge and the joy he took in teaching dance. Lille’s reverence for Corvino guides her meticulous documentation of his colorful life and career through the first eight chapters, with a detailed account of the influences that helped shape his unique integration of the Cecchetti technique. Chapters 9 through 11 provide readers with the specifics of his teaching methodology, from the barre through center work. The book’s engaging photographs illuminate his personality and artistry, and illustrations further explain his technical theories. While more vivid storytelling would have added to this book, what emerges is a loving portrait and insightful representation of this special man’s gift to the dance world. —Lynn Colburn Shapiro

Stigma and Perseverance in the Lives of Boys Who Dance: An Empirical Study of Male Identities in Western Theatrical Dance Training
By Doug Risner
The Edwin Mellen Press

In a nutshell: An investigation of male pre-professional dance training and education in the United States.

In his “wake-up” call to dance educators, Doug Risner sheds light on the age-old mystery of what attracts (and keeps) males in dance. Risner incorporates his own story, along with personal narratives from 75 danseurs to help readers better understand what is really occurring in the minds of young boys in dance classes nationwide. Most importantly, he challenges dance educators to develop more realistic strategies for recruiting male students, rather than relying on stereotypical “masculine” tactics, and to improve dance-training conditions for boy dancers. The book’s six heavily researched chapters discuss issues such as homosexuality, including males’ sensitivity to gendered criticism and why the balance between heterosexuals and homosexuals in dance is disproportionate; the importance of a strong support system for male dancers; and the Western notion that concert dance is a female activity. Although its tone is academic, this book is an essential resource for those with a connection to pre-professional male dancers. —Rachel Zar

When Men Dance: Choreographing Masculinities Across Borders
Edited by Jennifer Fisher and Anthony Shay
Oxford University Press

In a nutshell: Scholarly selections that address men’s obstacles and challenges as dance artists.

This anthology evolved out of a panel on dance and masculinity presented at the annual Congress on Research in Dance meeting in 2006. The diverse essays unfold an analytical debate of why men dance. Leading and up-and-coming dance scholars revisit and overturn historical theories, common stereotypes and prejudices often associated with gender in dance, relating to men’s obstacles and challenges as dance artists. Compiled by dance professors Jennifer Fisher and Anthony Shay, the study proposes ways of widening the definition of gender performance, especially rethinking the “making it macho” strategy. While mainly focusing on concert dance, as well as global popular and classical dance forms, the book does briefly explore social and spectacle dance as they relate to masculinity. The essays are enlivened by stories of male dancers from established artists, like Donald McKayle, to those lesser known. Through these personal accounts, teachers will learn ways to help male students rise above the challenges, fears, insecurities and ridicule men face as dancers.   —Courtney Rae Allen

In Motion's senior company dancers and Candice after a showcase performance in Bermuda, (2016). Photo courtesy of Culmer-Smith

When I was 23, an e-mail circulated among my former college dance classmates at Towson University, regarding a teaching position as the jazz director at the In Motion School of Dance studio in Bermuda. I applied, and after a few e-mails, I got offered the job.

Four weeks later, I packed up my tiny little car in Denver, where I was a dancer for the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, and drove across the country to my hometown in Maryland, before flying out for my new life in Bermuda.

Looking back now, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I didn't have time to think through how I should prepare and what I needed to do to officially apply for a work permit. I was mostly concerned with how I was going to pack all my clothes and belongings into two suitcases. If I could go back, I wish I would've had a more specific guide to what teaching in another country entailed.

In an effort to share my experience, here's what I wish I would've known before I left and what I learned over my 10 years living and working as a dance teacher abroad.

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At age 12, doctors advised Paige Fraser to stop dancing and have surgery. Instead, she chose physical therapy and team of chiropractors and massage specialists to help work through her condition. She has just begun her 5th season with Visceral Dance, based in Chicago.

Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine, when viewed from the back, has one or more curves. The vertebrae are abnormally rotated, which creates twisting and more prominent visibility of the rib cage on one side, and it is most commonly seen in adolescents ages 10 and older. Most cases cannot be reversed, but they can be controlled, for example dancer Paige Fraser who despite suffering from severe scoliosis, has thrived as a dancer. Dance teachers can play an essential role in spotting the condition at an early stage.

“Teachers can help to notice that scoliosis is there in the first place," says Sophia Fatouros, a New York City–based dance teacher and and former professional ballet dancer who has struggled with scoliosis since she was 12. “Parents do not always see their children in tight clothes, like leotards."

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Dancer Health
Sebastian Grubb (right) runs Sebastian's Functional Fitness in San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Grubb

From improved aerobic capacity to better reactivity, cross-training can to do wonders for dancers' health and performance. But with the abundance of exercise programs available, how do you get your dancers on the right routine?

Sebastian Grubb, a San Francisco–based fitness trainer and professional dancer, shares three questions to ask as you consider different cross-training options.

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Videos

When choreographer Cristian Faxola learned he had two days to create, develop and shoot a music video as an audition to choreograph for The Squared Division production house, he and his team embraced the challenge.

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Dancer Health
Thinkstock

I have heard you say that tight hamstrings prevent full extension of the knees and that you prefer hamstring stretches in a standing position, rather than on the floor. Can you explain why?

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Teachers & Role Models
Photo by Tim Trumble, courtesy of Arizona State University

Many parents discourage their teenagers from majoring in dance because of fear that their child will become a struggling artist in an unforgiving city, only to end their career in injury. But a dance degree can lead to other corners of the profession, such as marketing, physical therapy and arts administration. "Parents always say their children need something to fall back on," says Daniel Lewis, former dean of the dance division at New World School of the Arts. "They only see the stage time, applause and flowers. But there's choreographing, teaching, PR—the careers are endless."

Others are more concerned with disappointment. "Your daughter doesn't have to be a major ballerina with ABT to be successful," says Lewis. "If she wants to be a dancer, she'll find the work. There's a certain amount of training you have to achieve before you even get accepted into a good college, so if you have the talent, and the drive, you can make it."

As mentors, teachers can be monumentally influential on students' college decision processes. Read on to hear from three dance majors who feel grateful they chose this path—and share their words with your students!

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Teachers & Role Models
To show her support for local studios, Kelly Berick requires all her students to be enrolled in an after-school program. Photo by Stephanie Csejtey, courtesy of Akron School of the Arts

When Kelly Berick began teaching high school students at Ohio's Firestone Community Learning Center within Akron Public Schools 21 years ago, she was newly engaged, newly licensed to teach K–12 dance and thrilled to land what she considered the perfect job. Her enthusiasm quickly soured, however, when after two weeks of teaching she called a local studio to introduce herself. "The owner told me her students didn't like me, didn't like what I was doing and were going to quit my program," she says. Her class of seven became a class of three.

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