"Dancing with the Stars" pro Louis van Amstel has been part of Kim DelGrosso's ballroom program at Center Stage Performing Arts Studio since its start. So it was serendipitous to catch him there for our cover in full teaching-artist mode. But it's DelGrosso's story that we felt compelled to tell in this month's cover feature.

 

If you've met DelGrosso, you know she has enthusiasm to spare—especially when talking about the way ballroom training enhances a dancer's performance career. And judging by the list of students who've gone from Orem, Utah, to commercial fame, she's on to something. Derek and Julianne Hough, Chelsie Hightower, Ashleigh and Ryan Di Lello all have "DWTS" and "So You Think You Can Dance" credits. And in the past year, Center Stage alum Haylee Roderick has landed a role on "Glee," the cover of Dance Spirit magazine and a video with Gloria Estefan.

 

You'll also be interested to know that the financial side of DelGrosso's ballet-to-ballroom concept is as successful as her students. Center Stage's ballroom division adds substantial revenue to the studio's more traditional curriculum of ballet, hip hop and jazz. In "Where Ballet Meets Ballroom," the studio owner discusses her winning crossover approach—and she tells how you can do it, too.

 

During the 1970s and '80s, Maggie Black had an impressive underground following of professional dancers in New York City, including Gelsey Kirkland, Martine van Hamel, Kevin McKenzie, Gary Christ and Robert Hill. This was pretty much unheard of at the time because Black was not affiliated with a particular school or company. In "Black Magic," writer Rachel Straus tells why dancers flocked to Black to find what they couldn't get anywhere else.

 

Dancers today wouldn't see anything odd about this. It's now common to move fluidly (more or less) between teachers and from ballet class to jazz, hip hop and modern. Versatility is prized over loyalty, and studio teachers are like curators, exposing students to a wide range of choices. This is one reason Dance Teacher includes a regular monthly "How I Teach" feature and video—to introduce core movement elements by master teachers of many styles. This month, Rachel Tavernier demonstrates a barre exercise designed to warm up the spine for Katherine Dunham's African-inspired classes—something highly useful, no matter what class we're taking or teaching. (video here)

The Museum Workout. Photo by Paula Lobo, courtesy of the Met

As you tally up the reasons to be grateful this Thanksgiving, take a moment to reflect on a few of the world premieres that broke new ground this year. Some changed our perspective on dance, and others were just plain fierce, but they all got our attention and inspired our work as dance teachers.

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With Thanksgiving approaching, we're all ruminating on the things we are most thankful for in the world. Of course, as dance teachers, our students are always at the top of our list. They make us laugh, they make us cry and sometimes they make us want to pull our hair out, but at the end of the day, they are the reason for everything we do in the studio each day. To get you thinking about how much you love your dancers, here are five videos of kids dancing that are sure to make your heart happy! We want to see the dancers you're thankful for this season, too, so share your favorite videos on social media, tag us and include #gratitudedance in the caption. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

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No matter how hard I work to change it, I'm often told that I have a shallow plié. Is there any hope for improving the depth of my plié through special stretches to make it juicier? I'm doing a lot of exercises, but I don't seem to getting any results. Looking forward to reading your advice. Thanks!

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When New York City–based dancer Dan Lai began choreographing Figure 8, he had a specific vision in mind. Inspired by a song by FKA Twigs, he wanted the movement to represent the music's "dark and twisted vibe." "My thought process was to make shapes and phrases that were abstract and unique that complimented the intricate beats of the music," he says.

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Science has proven again, again that dancing is just, well, good for you. And not even in moderation. Like drinking water or laughing, there's no such thing as too much dancing. So, let's rejoice for this new dance perk to add to the list.

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To make dancers stronger and less injury-prone, Burns Wilson suggest adding floor barre or conditioning classes. Photo courtesy of Burns Wilson

With a career spanning 30-plus years in the dance field, Anneliese Burns Wilson has cultivated a unique perspective on health and injury prevention for dancers. From teaching ballet to teaching anatomy, she then founded ABC for Dance, which publishes dance-teaching materials. Now through research for her next book, which will focus on training the female adolescent dancer, she's delving even deeper into topics many dance teachers have overlooked.

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Erdmann (left) on set for Hairspray Live. Courtesy of Erdmann

When Wicked ensemble member Kelli Erdman was training at Westlake Dance Center in Seattle, her teacher Kirsten Cooper taught her that focused transitions would be pivotal to her success as a dancer. Now as a professional, Erdmann applies this advice to her daily performances, asserting that she will never let the details of her dancing get blurry.

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