Heading into Nutcracker season, we are reminded of how many young dancers grow up dreaming of Sugar Plum Fairies. But with “So You Think You Can Dance” on the scene, Clara and her prince now have a significant rival when it comes to youthful dreams. The TV show gives dancers a high-profile alternative to The Nutcracker as a worthy pre-professional ambition.

 

This month the two newest “SYTYCD” winners grace the cover of our sister publication Dance Spirit. But here in the pages of Dance Teacher, we’re even more excited about what happens behind the scenes. In our cover story about Stacey Tookey, you’ll get an inside look at how the Emmy Award–nominated choreographer works with the dancers to showcase their stellar technique.

 

Tookey and other audience favorites from the show are also active in the convention scene, making it a popular pathway to “SYTYCD” success. Not only is the convention floor a great place to be noticed by the likes of Tookey, Mia Michaels, Brian Friedman and Tyce Diorio, but it’s where dancers build the chops necessary to ace an audition in the commercial world. Check out the annual Dance Teacher Convention Guide (available in our print, iPad and Nook editions).

 

As great as conventions are for exposure, nothing can replace the fundamental training and support a dancer receives in her home studio. That’s why we gave the green light to writer Rachel Berman to talk with past season contestants about their early teachers. Berman, a former dancer with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, wondered why there is so little acknowledgement of teachers on the show. “They never give the teachers enough credit,” she said when she proposed the story. “These whiz kids did not come from nowhere!” In her story, you’ll meet the hometown teachers behind four “SYTYCD” stars.

 

And there is much more in this issue to inspire and intrigue. Igal Perry, for instance, demonstrates his method for teaching a développé à la seconde in Technique (click here for the video). And in “Left vs. Right," Pennsylvania Ballet principal Julie Diana shares the advice of master teachers on how to develop a dancer’s weaker side.

Wishing you peace and good health for the holidays!

 

 

 

Photo by Nathan Sayers

 

 

 

For the past 17 years, the Martha Hill Fund has been honoring the commitment to dance education and international performance embodied by its namesake. Previous award winners have included Carla Maxwell, former artistic director of Limón Dance Company, former Ailey II dancer Frederick Earl Mosley and Mark DeGarmo of Mark DeGarmo Dance.

This year's awards gala takes place tonight at the Manhattan Penthouse in New York City. Check out who's being honored.

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Khobdeh dancing Taylor's Speaking In Tongues. Photo courtesy of PTDC

For Parisa Khobdeh, music does more than set the tone for a piece—it's enabled her to connect with movement. And once she joined Paul Taylor Dance Company in 2003, Taylor's body of work deepened this connection. "His choreography showed me the music, the architecture and the space," she says. "I now see the music."

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We haven't been able to stop watching Lil' Mushroom since she popped and locked her way into Ellen's heart last week. We know you've got a long night of teaching ahead, and this is the dance inspiration you need to get you through. Check it out and tell us what you think about her killer moves over on our Facebook page! (She starts blowing minds at about 2:16.)

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