All-Stars (and teachers) Could Have a Successul Season on DWTS

We loved watching our cover stars Tony Dovolani and Louis Van Amstel strutting their stuff with their new partners on last night's "Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars" season premiere. Tony performed a Foxtrot with his partner Melissa Rycroft, while Louis and Sabrina Bryan did a Cha Cha.

 

Part of the drama on DWTS' past seasons has been watching frustrated teachers attempt to push non-dancers to a professional performing level in a record amount of time. (Remember Tony trying to work with Kate Gosselin?) The newbies' progress is always impressive, but at the same, when you know what goes into teaching and learning dance, those backstage glimpses can be a little stressful to witness, and the results never compare to someone who has put in years of training time.

 

This season, however, DWTS is featuring returning dancers. Maybe they haven't stayed in dancing shape since their last performance on the show, but having competitors with at least a little bit of training under their belts could make for better performances, not to mention fewer headaches for those long-suffering instructors! We're looking forward to finding out, and we like what we've seen so far.

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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Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

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Dancer Diary
Claire McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

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