“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.” —Sensei Ogui (via Cindy Clough, Just For Kix, at the Dance Teacher Summit)

It’s always fun to work on the Competition and Convention issue because it happens right after Nationals and our Dance Teacher Summit. In the past month we’ve seen the top competition studios perform, and the many choreographers and teachers at the DT Summit made the pages of the magazine come to life.

Add to that the folks we interviewed for this issue, and it feels like we’ve been in the same room with an A-list of people who make things happen in our world. Can we just say how fun it is to be in the presence of Mandy Moore? From the minute she arrived for her Sunday sessions at the  Summit, you could feel her energy fill the space—and her three classes were packed.

And it was exciting to see this month’s cover star, Derek Mitchell, show his work onstage as a finalist in the Capezio A.C.E. Awards. We know him as you see him in this issue (Technique)—a dedicated and popular street jazz instructor at Broadway Dance Center. So we were surprised and pleased to see his fantastic musical theater piece for the A.C.E. Awards, We Both Reached for the Gun. It’s a good thing the DT editors weren’t on the judging panel, because we’re somewhat partial! (Judging honors fell to Dance Magazine editor in chief Jennifer Stahl, Andy Blankenbuehler, Ray Leeper, Benoit-Swan Pouffer and Nina Vance of Capezio). Check out our photos of the winners.

Speaking of judges, in the 2014 Dance Teacher Competition and Convention Guide, we talked with four who see a lot of competition numbers. They call out five popular trends you would do well to avoid. In “It Takes Heart to Win Trophies,” three studio company directors, each with different backgrounds and studio demographics, share their very human approaches to competition. And if you’ve considered inviting a guest artist to choreograph for your performance company, you’ll want to read “Be Our Guest” for perspectives from both host and guest.

You don’t have to run a competition company (and we know that many of you don’t!) to enjoy this issue. For instance, we take seriously the need for dancers to understand their historical lineage. Erick Hawkins is the latest in our series of dance history lesson plans. Editor Rachel Rizzuto points out why his work matters today. In “Copying Choreography,” an entertainment lawyer answers your questions about how to protect your work—yes, it involves YouTube. And in “Bridging the Gap,” three college dance professors outline ways you can better prepare your seniors for their first year of college.

We hope your fall season is off to a great start.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Technique
Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

Not so long ago, it seemed that ballet dancers were always encouraged to pull up away from the floor. Ideas evolved, and more recently it has become common to hear teachers saying "Push down to go up," and variations on that concept.

Charla Genn, a New York City–based coach and dance rehabilitation specialist who teaches company class for Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Hispánico, says that this causes its own problems.

"Often when we tell dancers to go down, they physically push down, or think they have to plié more," she says. These are misconceptions that keep dancers from, among other things, jumping to their full potential.

To help dancers learn to efficiently use what she calls "Mother Marley," Genn has developed these clever techniques and teaching tools.

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Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

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Teachers Trending

Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

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