“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

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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Teaching Tips
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After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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