The Best Apps for Dancers Who Are Social Distancing

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We're living in unprecedented times, and for many of us, that means unprecedented screen time. (So please cool it with your Screen Time notifications, Apple.)

For dancers used to moving their bodies and working collaboratively, social distancing at home can come with particular challenges—not to mention the fact that many dance artists are out of work and losing income.

We rounded up the best apps to make this difficult period a bit easier—whether you need a distraction, a workout, a meditation or some inspiration:


For mental and physical health:

Headspace

Headspace offers guided meditations for stress, anxiety, sleep and more, and well as movement exercises. The popular app has a 2-week free trial, and for a limited time is offering a collection of free meditations to all users.

Waterlogged

A woman fills up a glass cup with water at a sleek black sink. A bowl of fruit sits beside the sink.

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When we change our routines, it's easy to forget to drink enough water. Waterlogged gives personal reminders to ensure you're staying hydrated, and allows you to set goals and track your water consumption over time.

Reflectly

If social distancing has you feeling disconnected, or if you're struggling to just keep track of what day it is, you're not alone. Reflecty is a journaling app that uses artificial intelligence to ask personalized questions about your day, helping you reconnect with your emotions and keep a record of your thoughts.

For entertainment:

Marquee TV

Live performances may be canceled, but there are still plenty of ways to get your digital dance fix. One of them is Marquee TV, which has full-length works from The Royal Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company, The Bolshoi Ballet, Kidd Pivot, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Gallim Dance and more, plus a series of dance documentaries and films. They are currently offering a 30-day free trial.

All Arts

Created by New York's PBS stations, All Arts has free programming featuring dance, theater, music, visual art and more. Watch excerpts from your favorite pieces, interviews with the stars, documentaries, tv shows and unique selections like the full video of last year's Bessie Awards.

For training and cross-training:

1on1 Ballet Studio

Created by National Ballet of Canada star Svetlana Lunkina, 1on1 Ballet Studio uses artificial intelligence to record and analyze your body's movements while executing barre combinations, strengthening exercises and more. In-app purchases range in price.

Peloton

No, you don't have to own a Peloton bike or treadmill to use the app. There are plenty of workouts you can do at home with minimal props, including HIIT, strength training, cardio and more. They're currently offering free 90-day trials.

Down Dog

A woman does downward dog on a fluffy white rug in her bedroom. Her pug sits underneath her, and she gives it an upside down kiss.

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If yoga is more your speed, try Down Dog, which features a wide variety of classes—now free, at least until April 1.

Nike Run Club

A woman runs on a deserted street, with trees on either side.

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Depending on where you live, it's still safe and permissible to go for a run (as long as you stay six feet away from others!). Plus, it's probably good for everyone's sanity to get outside once a day. The free Nike Run Club app has guided runs from both trainers and celebrities like Bill Nye and Kevin Hart.

For learning something new:

Liz Caplan Vocal Coach

A young woman sits on her coach with headphones in and a laptop in front of her, singing expressively.

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If you're a dancer who's always shied away from using your voice, now's the perfect time to strengthen your singing skills. Let Liz Caplan, vocal coach to the Broadway stars, teach you her ways, with vocal warm-ups, breathing exercises and more on her app.

STEEZY

Odds are STEEZY has classes in a dance style you've never tried. Mostly focused on urban dance, you can attempt everything from whacking to dancehall to krump. One-week free trials are available.

News
Courtesy Russell

Gregg Russell, an Emmy-nominated choreographer known for his passionate and energetic teaching, passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, November 22, at the age of 48.

While perhaps most revered as a master tap instructor and performer, Russell also frequently taught hip-hop and musical theater classes, showcasing a versatility that secured him a successful career onstage and in film and television, both nationally and abroad.


His resumé reads like an encyclopedia of popular culture. Russell worked with celebrities such as Bette Midler and Gene Kelly; coached pop icon Michael Jackson and Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane; danced in the classic films Clueless and Newsies; performed on "Dancing with the Stars" and the Latin Grammy Awards; choreographed for Sprite and Carvel Ice Cream; appeared with music icons Reba McEntire and Jason Mraz; and graced stages from coast to coast, including Los Angeles' House of Blues and New York City's Madison Square Garden.

But it was as an educator that Russell arguably found his calling. His infectious humor, welcoming aura and inspirational pedagogy made him a favorite at studios, conventions and festivals across the U.S. and in such countries as Australia, France, Honduras and Guatemala. Even students with a predilection for classical styles who weren't always enthused about studying a percussive form would leave Russell's classes grinning from ear to ear.

"Gregg understood from a young age how to teach tap and hip hop with innovation, energy and confidence," says longtime dance educator and producer Rhee Gold, who frequently hired Russell for conferences and workshops. "He gave so much in every class. There was nothing I ever did that I didn't think Gregg would be perfect for."

Growing up in Wooster, Ohio, Russell was an avid tap dancer and long-distance runner who eventually told his mother, a dance teacher, that he wanted to exclusively pursue dance. She introduced him to master teachers Judy Ann Bassing, Debbi Dee and Henry LeTang, whom he credited as his three greatest influences.

"I was instantly smitten, though competitive with him," says longtime friend and fellow choreographer Shea Sullivan, a protégé of LeTang. "Over the years we developed a mutual respect and admiration for each other. He touched so many lives. This is a great loss."

After graduating from Wooster High School, Russell was a scholarship student at Edge Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles, where he lived for many years. He founded a company, Tap Sounds Underground, taught at California Dance Theatre and even returned to Edge as an instructor, all while maintaining a busy travel schedule.

A beloved member of the tap community, Russell not only spoke highly of his contemporaries, but earned his place among them as a celebrated performing artist and teacher. With friend Ryan Lohoff, with whom he appeared on CBS's "Live to Dance," he co-directed Tap Into The Network, a touring tap intensive founded in 2008.

"His humor, giant smile and energy in his eyes are the things I will remember most," says Lohoff. "He inspired audiences and multiple generations of dancers. I am grateful for our time together."

Russell was on the faculty of numerous dance conventions, such as Co. Dance and, more recently, Artists Simply Human. He was known as a "teacher's teacher," having discovered at the young age of 18 that he enjoyed passing on his knowledge to other dance educators. He wrote tap teaching tips for Dance Studio Life magazine and led classes for fellow instructors whenever he was on tour.

In 2018, he opened a dance studio, 3D Dance, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he had been living most recently.

Russell leaves behind a wife, Tessa, and a 5-year-old daughter, Lucy.


"His success was his family and his daughter," says Gold. "They changed his entire being. He was a happy man."

GoFundMe campaigns to support Russell's family can be found here and here.

Teaching Tips
@jayplayimagery, courtesy Blackstone

Zoom classes have created a host of challenges to overcome, but this new way of learning has also had some surprising perks. Students and educators are becoming more adaptable. Creativity is blossoming even amid space constraints. Dancers have been able to broaden their horizons without ever leaving home.

In short, in a year filled with setbacks, there is still a lot to celebrate. Dance Teacher spoke to four teachers about the virtual victories they've seen thus far and how they hope to keep the momentum going back in the classroom.

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News
Betty Jones in The Moor's Pavane, shot for Dance Magazine's "Dancers You Should Know" series in 1955. Zachary Freyman, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow

An anchor of the Humphrey-Limón legacy for more than 70 years, Betty Jones died at her home in Honolulu on November 17, 2020. She remained active well into her 90s, most recently leading a New York workshop with her husband and partner, Fritz Ludin, in October 2019.

Betty May Jones was born on June 11, 1926 in Meadville, Pennsylvania, and moved with her family to the Albany, New York, area, where she began taking dance classes. Just after she turned 15 in 1941, she began serious ballet study at Jacob's Pillow, which was under the direction of Anton Dolin and Alicia Markova for the season. Over the next three summers as a scholarship student, Jones expanded her range and became an integral part of Jacob's Pillow. Among her duties was working in the kitchen, where her speedy efficiency earned her the nickname of "Lightning."

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