3 (Very) Different Ways to See Holiday Dance This Month

For most teachers, owners and students, the holiday season means listening to Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker suite on repeat, until heads explode. And while there's a definite thrill to hearing the opening notes of that overture, sometimes you need to get out of Nut-land and recharge your holiday spirit. Why not see a dance performance this December that'll shake things up for you? (Or just own your bottomless love for all things Nutcracker and see THAT.) Here are three ideas:

Photo by Steven Gunther

If you want a flash mob experience Then check out the CalArts dance department on Friday and Saturday, December 15 and 16, at 8 pm on the steps and sidewalk surrounding the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. They'll present a massive ensemble performance (all 70 dance majors are in it!), HHUMAAN—a 12-minute piece demonstrating how movement can bring urban, public spaces to life. It's all in honor of their upcoming winter dance concert, happening right after on both nights.

Photo courtesy of DIW

If you want an interdisciplinary cultural experience Through powerful dance, poetry and music, the Dance Institute of Washington'sThe Spirit of Kwanzaa illustrates experiences of the African diaspora and celebrates the traditions, struggles and creative innovations of diverse peoples of African heritage—from those of the continent of Africa to citizens of the Americas. See it December 15–17 at THEARC Theater in Washington, DC.

Photo courtesy of Frank Ohman School of Ballet

If you want a classical Nutcracker experience With two New York City Ballet principals (Daniel Ulbricht and Brittany Pollack) guest starring and more than 80 children, semi-professional and professional dancers performing, Frank Ohman and New York Dance Theatre's Nutcracker in Commack, New York, has become a beloved Long Island tradition. It's happening twice a day on December 16 and 17 at the John Cranford Adams Playhouse in Hempstead, New York.

Allie Burke, courtesy Lo Cascio

If you'd hear it on the radio, you won't hear it in Anthony Lo Cascio's tap classes.

"If I play a song that my kids know, I'm kind of disappointed in myself," he says. "I either want to be on the cutting edge or playing the classics."

He finds that most of today's trendy tracks lack the depth needed for tap, and that there's a disconnect between kids and popular music. "They have trouble finding the beat compared to older genres," he says.

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Courtesy Lovely Leaps

After the birth of her daughter in 2018, engineer Lisa McCabe had reservations about returning to the workforce full-time. And while she wanted to stay home with the new baby, she wasn't ready to stop contributing financially to her family (after all, she'd had a successful career designing cables for government drones). So, when she got a call that September from an area preschool to lead its dance program, she saw an opportunity.

The invitation to teach wasn't completely out of the blue. McCabe had grown up dancing in Southern California and had a great reputation from serving as her church's dance teacher and team coach the previous three years (stopping only to take a break as a new mother). She agreed to teach ballet and jazz at the preschool on Fridays and from there created an age-appropriate class based on her own training in the Cecchetti and RAD methods. It was a success: In three months, class enrollment went from six to 24 students, and just one year later, McCabe's blossoming Lovely Leaps brand had contracts with eight preschools and three additional teachers.

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Courtesy Shake the Ground

Dance competitions were among the first events to be shut down when the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in the U.S. in mid-March, and they've been among the last able to restart.

So much of the traditional structure of the competition—large groups of dancers and parents from dozens of different studios; a new city every week—simply won't work in our new pandemic world.

How, then, have competitions been getting by, and what does the future look like?

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