When Brandon Leffler isn't performing in Wicked on Broadway, he's choreographing. He's been with the production off and on for five years, but says it's only been in the last two that he's recognized his passion for creating movement. "Once a month, I get into the studio and challenge myself to create and record it."


His efforts resulted in this month's video contest winner—a Fosse-styled retro montage featuring Leffler, a group of 13 fellow Broadway dancers and several of his students from Broadway Dance Center.

With lots of isolations, deep pliés and hip rolls, the dancers peform to a medley of "The Munsters" theme song, Frank Sinatra's "Witchcraft" and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's "Minnie the Moocher." "For me, it's not about the sky-high battements or jumps," says Leffler. "I like simple movements that are very rhythmic and story-driven." Paying attention to the details in his work not only challenges dancers, he says, but also appeals to the audience. "I want people to watch and think,
'I can do that, too,'" he says.


Want to expand your influence as a teacher? Enter Dance Teacher's Video of the Month Contest. To enter, tag your videos on Instagram or Facebook with @danceteachermagazine.

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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Viral Videos
Photo by Kyle Froman

Gus Solomons jr includes this exercise in his warm-up, following an initial 10 minutes of floor work. The combination's constant plié-and-rise dynamic is designed to help students find the ease and weight of the pelvis. As in Cunningham technique, the top of the body moves independently from the bottom half.

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Viral Videos

In its 14 years of existence, YouTube has been home to a world of competition dance videos that we have all consumed with heedless pleasure. Every battement, pirouette and trendy move has been archived somewhere, and we are all very thankful.

We decided it was time DT did a deep dive through those years of footage to show you the evolution of competition dance since the early days of YouTube.

From 2005 to 2019, styles have shifted a whole lot. Check them out, and let us know over on our Facebook page what you think the biggest differences are!

Enjoy!

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Viral Videos

Every once in a while, the stars align, things fall precisely into place, and the perfect marketing campaign is born. Such is the case with New York City Ballet's new trailer for their upcoming run of The Sleeping Beauty.

Instead of going the traditional promotional route (performance clips, snippets of the score), NYCB took it to the next level by staging an elaborate photoshoot for Princess Aurora (played by principal Lauren Lovette) and her court, to commemorate her upcoming 16th birthday. And when we say "court," we mean it: everyone and their mother is there, from the Lackey, to Catalabutte, to the King and Queen, trailed by their guards, of course. Watching company members Aarón Sanz, Maria Kowroski, Meaghan Dutton O'Hara, and Ask la Cour (among many others) flex their acting chops is hysterical—they're all masters in the art of serving face (especially Kowroski, whose Carabosse literally sent chills down our spine), and we're so here for it.

Dance Teacher Tips

The tripod (demonstrated by LizAnne Roman Roberts) is one of the more standard Countertechnique tools, designed to challenge the body to maintain dynamic balance while multitasking through multiple trajectories. Aptly named, the tripod works in three different directions: as the lower body moves down, the upper body moves up and back, eventually spiraling into an elegant twist.

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Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Kyle Froman

Taught by Francesca Harper and demonstrated by Naya Lovell, this step borrows from William Forsythe's quest to take classical movement vocabulary and deconstruct the shapes created. "Let the momentum at the top of the développé carry you," says Harper, "and see how your body intuitively has its own response."

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Viral Videos

Is there anything better than staying home on a weekend night to binge-watch your favorite TV show, only to be surprised by a mind-blowing surprise dance number mid-episode?

Yeah, we don't think so, either. There are just way too many positives in that scenario.

Check out these five television shows that have some seriously fabulous and unexpected dance numbers in them.

Enjoy!

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If anyone's going to demonstrate how to break out some fresh dance moves it might as well be Ciara. This dancing diva is working on her seventh album, and everyone knows that any great album should be served with a side of dancing. So Ciara decided to show Vogue five of her fiercest moves—and we are here for every single one of them.

From the 1, 2 Step to Bucking, Ciara reminds us why we love her in this beautiful tutorial. We dare you to watch this and NOT bust a move. We can't wait to see what routines Ciara and her longtime choreographer Jamaica Craft pair with the tracks on her upcoming album. Whatever they decide, we know we'll be in for a treat. Until then you can master Ciara's iconic dance moves with the help of the video below. We won't judge you for playing it on repeat.


ICYMI, one of music's biggest events happened last night: the American Music Awards (aka, a chance for the industry's best singers to strut their stuff—usually with a squad of the fiercest dancers around). The show always brings some fabulously dancy performances, but the ones below were our top faves.

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Dance Teacher Tips
Demonstrators Claire Crause and Avery Sobczak. Photo by Kyle Froman

This partnering move is all about the weight transfer, say Chris and Lauren Grant. "It's not about Hulk-Hoganing someone," says Lauren. The flyer and base must keep their hips together throughout, so that the weight of the flyer can pour gently onto the thighs of the base, rather than just dumping.

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Viral Videos
Photo by Rachel Papo

Our Dance Teacher Summit in New York City was an inspiring three days of technique classes, seminars and networking with incredible educators! Our favorite part is always the evening of the Capezio A.C.E. Awards Competition, when we present the Dance Teacher Awards. This year's awardees included Julie Kent, Djana Bell, Rhonda Miller, Sue Samuels and Stephanie Kersten.

Check out the winning Capezio A.C.E. Awards' winning number, Not for Picking, choreographed by Mary Grace McNally, below.

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Dance Teacher Tips

"If I hear another dancer say, 'I don't like to plié,'" says Broadway Dance Center contemporary teacher Tracie Stanfield, "I am going to scream!" This frustration was the inspiration behind Stanfield's progression video, which focuses on level changes. The combination, demonstrated by dancers Gaby Blaney and Lexie Childers, starts with an over-crossed passé and builds into floorwork and landing on the tops of the feet. The series challenges dancers to build strength while staying grounded. "They learn to let the body soften on contact with the floor before throwing themselves from the air to the ground," she says.

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