Remember Mikhail Baryshnikov’s short film for clothing company Citizens of Humanity? Well, the second part of the collaboration—an original T-shirt design—has finally arrived, and we like what we see!
If you'd hear it on the radio, you won't hear it in Anthony Lo Cascio's tap classes.
"If I play a song that my kids know, I'm kind of disappointed in myself," he says. "I either want to be on the cutting edge or playing the classics."
He finds that most of today's trendy tracks lack the depth needed for tap, and that there's a disconnect between kids and popular music. "They have trouble finding the beat compared to older genres," he says.
The Luminaries' "One"<p>"This whole album is conscious, inspiring music. I recommend The Luminaries for tap because it provides a message as well as music. It's something different, and most people would never consider tap dancing to music such as theirs."</p>
Jason Yudoff's "Tragic Hero"<p>"Yudoff has quite a number of instrumental pieces, classified as funk. He often uses alternative time signatures, which are great for tap dancers to get used to. Highlights on this album include 'Good Enough,' 'Get Up,' 'Room to Breathe' and 'Locked In the Box.'"</p>
Jason Mraz's "Love Is a Four Letter Word"<p>"Mraz is one of my favorites to tap to not only for the message he brings, but he is a great musician and also uses alternative time signatures often, specifically songs '5/6' and 'Everything Is Sound.'"</p>
Frank Persico's "Salutations from Ozone Park"<p>"I enjoy Persico's music because we have similar life experiences and I can relate well to it. He brings a swing that I think is important for tap dancing. Highlights for tap dancers include 'When Love Was Blind,' 'Eyes' and 'Funny Little Way.'"</p>
A Louis Prima playlist on Spotify<p>"Introduced to me by my grandfather, Louis Prima is one of my all-time favorite artists for tap. His music always seems so joyous and has that big-band swing flair that I want to bring to my classes and performances. The album I loved isn't on Spotify, but <a href="https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2aTg3V7ijqIpW7JV7JpFvX" target="_blank">this playlist</a> is dedicated to that album and includes more of his music."</p>
After the birth of her daughter in 2018, engineer Lisa McCabe had reservations about returning to the workforce full-time. And while she wanted to stay home with the new baby, she wasn't ready to stop contributing financially to her family (after all, she'd had a successful career designing cables for government drones). So, when she got a call that September from an area preschool to lead its dance program, she saw an opportunity.
The invitation to teach wasn't completely out of the blue. McCabe had grown up dancing in Southern California and had a great reputation from serving as her church's dance teacher and team coach the previous three years (stopping only to take a break as a new mother). She agreed to teach ballet and jazz at the preschool on Fridays and from there created an age-appropriate class based on her own training in the Cecchetti and RAD methods. It was a success: In three months, class enrollment went from six to 24 students, and just one year later, McCabe's blossoming Lovely Leaps brand had contracts with eight preschools and three additional teachers.
Courtesy Lovely Leaps
Dance competitions were among the first events to be shut down when the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in the U.S. in mid-March, and they've been among the last able to restart.
So much of the traditional structure of the competition—large groups of dancers and parents from dozens of different studios; a new city every week—simply won't work in our new pandemic world.
How, then, have competitions been getting by, and what does the future look like?
When the Pandemic Hit<p>In mid-March, when competitions first began seeing cancellations, charting a path forward felt like taking shots in the dark.</p><p>"What made this thing so frustrating and scary was that we didn't know what we were dealing with," says Shari Tomasiello, CEO of Headliners. "We didn't know if it was going to be for a week, two weeks, a month. We didn't know if we would be able to reschedule events, or when we would be able to reschedule events."</p><p>While Tomasiello completely canceled some events, about 90 percent of her studios said that they wanted to move forward with competing, so she rescheduled as many as she could. Many of these eventually had to be canceled too—Headliners ended up holding just 12 of its 34 planned competitions. One of those canceled events was Headliners' Nationals, which accounts for 10 to 15 percent of the company's annual revenue.</p>
A recent Headliners competition.
Photo courtesy Headliners
The Reality of Pandemic Competitions<p>The few competitions that have gone on as planned since March have looked quite different from the norm.</p><p>Some—like Youth America Grand Prix, New York City Dance Alliance, Starbound and Break the Floor—have happened virtually. Tomasiello emphasizes that they aren't moneymakers, just opportunities to keep studios and dancers engaged.</p><p>Rather than holding a virtual competition, Lissette Salgado-Lucas and David Lucas, founders of Shake the Ground, launched a free online workshop series for their studios, and got to work formulating a plan for a potential in-person event.</p><p>In mid-June, Shake the Ground was able to host its first competition since March, in Jacksonville, Florida, with a whole new structure: studio blocks. Each studio had its own time slot in the venue, where the dancers performed all their routines in succession with a limited audience of one family member per child. Shake the Ground also livestreamed the events, as well as the awards ceremony, and trophies were mailed to the studios after the fact. (This was a popular setup for studio owners and parents, who only had to be present for a few hours instead of an entire weekend.) Shake the Ground was able to hold four rescheduled events in this format, including its Nationals, and several other competitions have implemented similar procedures.</p>
A recent Shake the Ground competition.
Photo courtesy Shake the Ground