It’s that time of year when those of you who direct competition teams are preparing for the coming season. This issue includes some great tips and advice on everything from choreography to stage makeup to costume ordering, plus the handy Dance Teacher Competition Guide with contact details for all the top events.
Whether or not you are convinced of the benefits for young dancers, competition is a growing reality of dance training. There was a lot of discussion about it this year at the Dance Teacher Summit. As many have pointed out, one thing competitions do is increase performance opportunities for students. “Competition teaches kids to be professional,” Mandy Moore said during a panel about judging. “They learn to be on time, to groom themselves, to win with humility and lose with grace.”
Our cover this month is another hot topic. With the rising popularity—and notoriety—of “Dance Moms,” we felt compelled to visit Abby Lee Miller in Pittsburgh to find out what happens when a successful studio owner goes public with her business in such a big way. In “Sorting the Reality from the Reality TV," writer Rachel Zar will tell you who Abby was before the show and how she’s faring with her new-found fame. But little did we know that our photo shoot would become part of the spectacle. While photographer Matt Murphy captured Abby in his lens, the “Dance Moms” production crew wired us with mics and turned their cameras on us. It’s easy to forget they’re in the room once you’re involved with your work!
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This Sunday, master ballet teacher Finis Jhung turns 80. After a career as a soloist for both San Francisco Ballet and the Joffrey and a principal for Harkness Ballet, Jhung carved out a unique place for himself as a ballet teacher in New York City. He's coached the boys of Billy Elliot: The Musical, developed a popular video and DVD how-to series and STILL teaches seven classes a week at the Ailey Extension. He's graced the pages of this magazine to offer his time-honored wisdom again and again, and he's currently working on a memoir. (We can't wait to read it.) Happy birthday, Finis!
Since 1989, tap dancers have been celebrating National Tap Dance Day (NTDD) on and around May 25, the birthday of tap dance legend Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. This year, prime events are happening in Philadelphia, New York and Chicago.
When you think of a major basketball team's dancers or cheerleaders, you probably picture the Laker Girls—scantily clad, with shiny curls cascading down their backs. You definitely don't picture a group of 15 40-years-old-and-up "seniors," mean-mugging and ripping off breakaway pants. But the New York Liberty's Timeless Torches do exactly that, and they routinely bring down the house during halftime at the WNBA games where they perform.
The exhibit Radical Bodies: Anna Halprin, Simone Forti, Yvonne Rainer in California and New York, 1955–1972 is filled with exhibits, performances and conferences honoring the three postmodern dance living legends.