D’Angelo Castro and Amanda Carbajales, the adorable youngsters who won the $500,000 top prize on Paula Abdul’s “Live to Dance” with their ballroom dancing, are from Lory and Manuel Castro’s Dance Town studio in Miami. Little D’Angelo first captured our hearts from the New York City Dance Alliance nationals stage in 2009, when he was only 8 years old. Last summer at the Dance Teacher Summit, his mom’s Latin group number was an electrifying crowd pleaser in the Capezio A.C.E. Award finals. No question about it, ballroom dance is hot.
Ever since ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” hit the small screen, ballroom has been grabbing an ever larger slice of media attention. And Tony Dovolani has been part of the show almost since the beginning, signing on as a pro for Season 2. In person, he is the ultimate nice-guy-next-door type who makes you feel everything you say is smart and funny. Except that you’d have to have lived in Kosovo to be his neighbor. (He came to the U.S. when his family was forced to leave because of political upheaval.) Writer Jen Jones tells his inspirational story in “Dancing with Dovolani”.
Long before “DWTS,” Pierre Dulaine was using ballroom to help public school children learn social skills. The 2005 award-winning documentary Mad Hot Ballroom brought his program into the public eye, and Antonio Banderas starred in the Hollywood version, Take the Lead. In Technique this month, we asked Dulaine’s dance partner and Dancing Classrooms artistic director, Yvonne Marceau, to demonstrate how she teaches a basic waltz—a foundational step that all dancers need to know, especially ballet students.
Save the date: July 29–31. Perhaps you’ve considered how you might join the growing ballroom trend. Whether by expanding curriculum or renting out studio space for classes or rehearsals, some studio owners are finding ballroom is a great way to get new people through their doors. Sharing this and other studio business strategies is part of why more than 1,000 dance educators come to NYC every summer for the Dance Teacher Summit—three days of technique classes, teaching advice, networking and business empowerment. Plus we have a lot of fun! Don’t miss it: www.danceteachersummit.com.
Starting this Saturday, the Children's Museum of Manhattan on the Upper West Side will have an interactive dance exhibit called "Let's Dance!" Basically every facet of dance is featured in the exhibit: kids can explore lighting design with a special child-friendly lighting box; choreograph with the use of props, signs and costumes; create accompaniment with percussion instruments; manipulate posable figures; see incredible dance photography and video; and, best of all, interact with the dance portal, where they can watch, learn and interact with professional and student dance companies like Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Dancing Classrooms, Mark Morris Dance Group and Martha Graham Dance Company. Whew. That's a LOT of great stuff.
Kathleen Kelbe, Pembroke School of Performing Arts | Pembroke, MA
Total budget: $100,000
Project timeline: 3 months (ongoing)
Kelbe expanded from 1,600 to 6,000 square feet. She used Rosco's SubFloor and Adagio vinyl and broke her extensive renovation into three phases.
Ellen Marshall, Off Broadway Dance Center | Fulton, NY
Total budget: $60,000
Project timeline: 3 months
Marshall renovated a Methodist church into a 4,000-square-foot studio, with Stagestep Flooring Solutions' marbleized gray Timestep in her two studios.
Diana Griffin, Fusion Dance Company | Palm Harbor, FL
Total budget: $40,000
Project timeline: 45 days
From restaurant to studio! The checkerboard ceilings were a restaurant leftover that Griffin decided to keep. Her O'Mara sprung floors were self-installed in her 7,000-square-foot space.
Barclay Gibbs, Dance Conservatory of Maryland | Bel Air, MD
Total budget: $10,000
Project timeline: 2 days
Gibbs chose Gerstung Floor Systems' AirBase 600 for her 2,000-square-foot studio. This semi-permanent flooring will travel with her, should she change locations in the future.
Nigel Burgoine, Ballet Theatre of Toledo | Toledo, OH
Total budget: $4,000
Project timeline: 1 day
In her work as director of physical therapy for New York City Ballet, Marika Molnar relies on tools like bands, balls and Pilates equipment to rehabilitate and strengthen dancers. She says there's a place for such tools in daily dance classes, as well. Resistance and stability tools can help students develop strength and even break bad habits. "Say someone is compensating because of a weakness or restriction—that's what they're always going to do," she says, even after a teacher corrects them repeatedly. "If you give them something that makes things a little unfamiliar, their brain has to participate more. It becomes not only a physical exercise but a cognitive one." The dancer learns in a new way, and improves.
Molnar has collaborated with Pilates expert Joan Breibart and PTs at Westside Dance Physical Therapy to create a series of tools and exercises with dancers' training and recovery needs in mind. Here, she shares three of her favorites.
Christy Wolverton had a student who often either missed class or seemed to be sick. "When you're in our pre-professional company, attendance is huge," says Wolverton, owner and director of Dance Industry Performing Arts Center in Plano, Texas. She tried to be patient with the dancer and communicate with her parents to get a better idea of what was going on at home. "When she was diagnosed with a serious illness," she says, "we were relieved that we didn't come down on her for something that wasn't her fault."
Laura Glenn can still remember the excitement she felt watching the Limón Dance Company perform at Central Park in the summer of 1962. "I turned to the person next to me and whispered, 'He's going to be my teacher!'" she says. Two weeks later, she started as a Juilliard freshman, where she indeed studied under the legendary José Limón before joining his company in her second year.