Waiting outside my daughter’s dance class at ODC Commons one morning, I heard music from the next studio. First a pop song by Prince, then salsa, hip hop and swing. Intrigued, I walked over to investigate. The class I saw was different than anything I’d seen: people from teen to 60-something dancing in a circle, hips shaking, arms circling and legs kicking as they propelled their sweat-soaked bodies toward and away from a teacher in the center of the room. It was as much a communal event as an aerobic workout, as much a celebration of moving freely, playfully and without self-consciousness as a dance class.

 

What I had discovered was Rhythm & Motion, a program of dance workout classes that for 30 years have given the Bay Area a lighthearted outlet for creative expression and a way to get fit. In 1978, Consuelo Faust and Catherine Hebert, two dancers and choreographers between gigs, began teaching “Dancergetics,” a licensed dance aerobics workout. Realizing they could create a hipper, “dancier” class, they soon struck out on their own. The premise was simple—hire professional dancers to lead classes, choreograph routines that got dancers and non-dancers alike moving and make classes fun and welcoming. “People can be intimidated by a dance class,” says Faust. “There’s this idea of the ‘house of dance.’ By calling it the dance workout class, you get people to climb through the window.”

 

Word spread quickly and classes were soon packed. After holding classes in 16 locations around San Francisco, Faust, the program’s artistic director, opened a studio on Mission Street, where over a span of 26 years, rent increased from $800 per month to $12,000. Since R&M partnered with ODC in 2006, classes are now held in beautiful new studios to an expanded student base. “Some ODC company members come to our dance workout class,” says Faust, “and some dance workout regulars decide to take ballet. There’s no hierarchy; it’s a wonderful blend.”

 

Faust started by doing all the choreography herself, but as the program grew, other teachers began contributing routines. Over the years there have been more than 1,500 routines created, and there are currently 25 teachers. Classes include a warm-up, a session of high-energy choreography and floor work to strengthen and stretch abdominals, arms and legs. In addition to the classic R&M dance workout “Fusion Rhythms,” there is “Modern Rhythms,” which incorporates contemporary dance moves, as well as “Essential Fusion Rhythms” and “Essential Modern Rhythms,” which are geared toward beginners and those wanting to focus on intricacies of choreography.

 

R&M teacher training is an 8- to 12-week process of three-hour sessions three times a week with Dudley Flores, R&M’s master trainer. Student teachers learn an entire class—“It shocks dancers how difficult it is to learn an hour of choreography,” says Faust—as well as how to convey a sense of fun and inclusiveness, how to draw students in and lift their spirits. Teacher-training sessions are held four times a year to learn new material.

 

In addition to the Bay Area, classes are currently held in Ohio at Cincinnati Ballet and in Brooklyn at the Mark Morris Dance Studios. “We are building and nurturing this wonderful community, emphasizing our belief that anyone can dance,” Faust says.

 

 

Photo by Drew Kelly.

Dancer Health
Courtesy of Susan Jaffe

Throughout Susan Jaffe's performance career at American Ballet Theatre, there was something special, even magical, about her dancing. Lauded as "America's quintessential American ballerina" by The New York Times, Jaffe has continued to shine in her postperformance career, most recently as the dean of dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She credits the "magic" to her meditation practice, which she began in the 1990s at the height of her career. We sat down with Jaffe to learn more about her practice and how it has helped her both on and off the stage.

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Bill Johnson, Courtesy Just for Kix

Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix, has been called the Queen of Fundraising by colleagues. A studio owner and high school dance coach with over four decades of experience, Clough is known for her smart and successful fundraising ideas.

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Your year-end recital is your studio's pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Not only is it the time for your dancers to celebrate what they've accomplished during the year, it's your opportunity to demonstrate to parents firsthand the value of a dance education. A successful recital can also grant your school an influential role in the local community. Whether a prominent conservatory or a small-town studio, and whether your dancers win competitions or take classes once a week, your year-end recital is the chance for your dancers—and your program—to shine.

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Photo by Kyle Froman

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Weary took Hoover's hand and gently said, "Honey, you work too hard."

Hoover, and the students, had a good laugh.

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Weary founded CPYB in 1955, and it quickly became an internationally known school that has produced countless principal dancers. Famous for her high standards and tough work ethic, Weary instilled those qualities in Hoover, who served as associate artistic director at CPYB under Weary, as artistic director at Ballet Academy East's pre-professional division in New York City and as a répétiteur for the Balanchine Trust.

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From left: Daniel Novikov, Alla Novikova and Mishella Vishnevskiy at Blackpool 2018. Photo by NYC Digital Media, courtesy of Alla Novikova

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Getty Images

Professions across the globe hold yearly conferences, and the dance industry is certainly no exception. Annual conferences exist for dance teachers, dance medicine professionals, dance educators and more. Taking the time out to attend them can be well worth your while for a number of different reasons. Let's take a closer look at four of them.

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Dance Teacher Tips
Father-daughter dance. Photo by Lisa Lee, courtesy of Dance Academy USA

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Q: How do you approach gender when teaching in 2019? When I was training, male dancers were encouraged to make their movement masculine, while female dancers were encouraged to keep their movement feminine. Today, gender has become much more fluid, and the line between masculine and feminine performance has blurred. How does that impact the way we should be teaching?

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New York City–based pre-professional training troupe Z Artists Group, along with dancers from eight professional companies in the city, are joining together to combat gun violence with, "DANCERS DEMAND ACTION," a performance aligning art with activism at The Joyce Theater, this Monday, November 11, at 7:30 pm.

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