Books/DVDs: Extra Credit

instructional

Therapeutic Exercises Using
Foam Rollers
Therapeutic Exercises Using Resistive Bands

by Caroline Corning Creager, PT
Executive Physical Therapy, Inc.
In a nutshell: Two user-friendly manuals to share in class or use at home.

As much as dancers love to dance, there’s no denying the toll it takes on their bodies. Taking steps to reduce and prevent injury is the subject of these books, which outline how to incorporate foam rollers and resistive bands into your exercise regimen in order to stretch and strengthen. Exercises are all illustrated with detailed step-by-step instructions and special notes on correct execution and safety. Also included are tips on how to treat such injuries as piriformis syndrome, hip tendonitis, ankle sprains and low-back pain. For readers seeking continued longevity in movement, the wealth of information Creager provides is invaluable.

The Meaning of Tango: The Story of the Argentinian Dance
by Christine Denniston
Portico (Anova Books)
In a nutshell: A great tool for providing a solid foundation for an education in Tango dance.

Having taught tango on five continents, Denniston is well-versed in this lively genre. Beginning with the meaning and purpose behind the dance, she describes its history, focusing on the immigration, romance, politics and passion that were imperative to its inception and how it has evolved over time. Detailed instructions and diagrams help readers understand the technical aspects of tango, including transferring weight, holding a partner correctly and turning.

The Fosse Style
by Debra McWaters
University Press
of Florida
In a nutshell: A step-by-step guide to perfecting Fosse style.

McWaters, who was the director-choreographer of the international tour of Fosse, dissects the dancemaker’s notoriously difficult style in this detailed book. As she shows, there’s more to it than hunched shoulders, turned-in legs and arms akimbo. Beginning with individual movements such as “soft-boiled-egg hands” and “broken doll arms,” McWaters explains the intricacies of hand, arm, shoulder and hip isolations before progressing to group movement, locomotor steps and the nuances of facial expression essential to the work. Photos, passed down by Fosse himself to Gwen Verdon, Ann Reinking, Ben Vereen, Chita Rivera and Liza Minnelli, illustrate the craft, look and attitude of the technique that continues to thrive today.

Theory

Your Move
by Ann Hutchinson Guest and Tina Curran
Routledge
In a nutshell: A guide to understanding movement through dance notation.

Hutchinson Guest and Curran, founder and co-founder of the Language of Dance Centers in the UK and U.S., respectively, explain how dance notation can be used to deepen a dancer’s relationship with her craft in this second edition. Beneficial to both beginners and dance notation professionals, the book pays special attention to areas such as balance, rotation, direction in space and flexion and extension. The authors bring their explanations to life with illustrations, as well as a music CD composed to accompany studies in the book.

The Body Eclectic: Evolving Practices in Dance Training
Edited by Melanie Bales and Rebecca Nettl-Fiol
University of Illinois Press
In a nutshell: An intellectual look at modern dance training over time.

Ohio State University dance professor Bales and University of Illinois dance professor Nettl-Fiol have compiled a collection of essays and interviews that investigate the evolution of modern dance over the past 50 years. They also take a look at the changing role of dance education during this time, explaining how class-taking practices both change and mirror what society values in dance. Contributors include Wendell Beavers, Veronica Dittman, David Dorfman, Martha Myers, Ralph Lemon, Bebe Miller and Tere O’Connor. Suggested sources for further reading are also provided.

Biography

Remembering Nureyev: The Trail
of a Comet

by Rudi van Dantzig
University Press of Florida
In a nutshell: An intimate look at the subject from a friend’s perspective.

Rudolf Nureyev requested that his friend and colleague van Dantzig share his story. While their relationship was strained by clashes in lifestyle and artistic choices, Nureyev believed van Dantzig could give a truthful account of his life and career. In this intimately told memoir, Nureyev is portrayed as a man rather than a legend. The author takes all aspects of his life into consideration, including his volatile disposition and undeniable allure. Beginning with their first meeting in a dressing room prior to a performance of Raymonda in 1968, the book spans many important moments in the dancer’s life. Although Nureyev passed away more than 15 years ago, van Dantzig ensures that his influence as a dancer, friend, fighter and realist will never be forgotten.

Young Adult

Meet the Dancers: From Ballet, Broadway, and Beyond
by Amy Nathan
Henry Holt and Company
In a nutshell: Young dancers will find inspiration in this collection of pros’ tales.

In Nathan’s compilation of stories, we meet 16 professional dancers who specialize in everything from ballet to Broadway. Whether they began dancing at age 3, like New York City Ballet dancer Teresa Reichlen, or age 13, like Broadway’s Elizabeth Parkinson, the subjects share the challenges they encountered in their rise to success. The stories prove rewarding and inspiring for beginners and young students. They also touch on issues such as body image, the college debate and the benefits and drawbacks of competitions. A portion of the proceeds from the book’s sales will be used to promote dance education.

House of Dance
by Beth Kephart
Laura Geringer Books
In a nutshell: An entertaining and emotional read for teen students.

In this novel, dance can empower both participants and observers. Fifteen-year-old Rosie learns this lesson at a very difficult time in her life. Abandoned by her father and living with a mother who spends most of her time with her business partner, Rosie begins daily visits to her ailing grandfather. It is on one of these trips that she discovers a studio called the House of Dance, where she takes up ballroom dance lessons with professional champion Max—a life-altering decision for both Rosie and her family. Young readers will empathize with Rosie as she discovers an untapped talent that helps her learn to celebrate each day. Kephart has penned a great read that will speak to teen dancers who are faced with more responsibility at home than most.

Behind the Scenes

Balanchine Variations
by Nancy Goldner
University Press of Florida
In a nutshell: A breakdown of some of Balanchine’s most celebrated ballets.

As a dance critic and former dancer, Goldner has a thorough knowledge of the subject and adds her own insights to create a unique perspective. Here she takes a close look at Balanchine’s vast repertory rather than the dance legend’s biography, incorporating critical analyses and detailed descriptions of the movement and storyline of some of Balanchine’s most celebrated ballets. She also provides a history of each piece, placing it in the context of the artist’s life and referring to her own experiences with him from her days at The School of American Ballet. Beginning with Apollo, which Balanchine choreographed at age 24, the book covers 20 other masterpieces and culminates with Ballo della Regina, choreographed 50 years later. DT

Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

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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.


Find a formula that works for your studio

For Melanie Boniszewski, owner of Tonawanda Dance Arts in upstate New York, the answer to profitable summer programming lies in drop-in classes.

"We're in a cold-weather climate, so summer is actually really hard to attract people—everyone wants to be outside, and no one wants to commit to a full season," she says.

Tonawanda Dance Arts offers a children's program in which every class is à la carte: 30-minute, $15 drop-in classes are offered approximately two times a week in the evenings, over six weeks, for different age groups. And two years ago, she created her Stay Strong All Summer Long program for older students, which offers 12 classes throughout the summer and a four-day summer camp. Students don't know what type of class they're attending until they show up. "If you say you're going to do a hip-hop class, you could get 30 kids, but if you do ballet, it could be only 10," she says. "We tell them to bring all of their shoes and be ready for anything."

Start-up costs are minimal—just payroll and advertising (which she starts in April). For older age groups, Boniszewski focuses on bringing in her studio clientele, rather than marketing externally. In the 1- to 6-year-old age group, though, around 50 percent of summer students tend to be new ones—98 percent of whom she's been able to convert to year-round classes.

A group of elementary school aged- girls stands in around a dance studio. A teacher, a young black man, stands in front of the studio, talking to them

An East County Performing Arts Center summer class from several years ago. Photo courtesy ECPAC

East County Performing Arts Center owner Nina Koch knows that themed, weeklong camps are the way to go for younger dancers, as her Brentwood, California students are on a modified year-round academic school calendar, and parents are usually looking for short-term daycare solutions to fill their abbreviated summer break.

Koch keeps her weekly camps light on dance: "When we do our advertising for Frozen Friends camp, for example, it's: 'Come dance, tumble, play games, craft and have fun!'"

Though Koch treats her campers as studio-year enrollment leads, she acknowledges that these weeklong camps naturally function as a way for families who aren't ready for a long-term commitment to still participate in dance. "Those who aren't enrolled for the full season will be put into a sales nurture campaign," she says. "We do see a lot of campers come to subsequent camps, including our one-day camps that we hold once a month throughout our regular season."

Serve your serious dancers

One dilemma studio owners may face: what to do about your most serious dancers, who may be juggling outside intensives with any summer programming that you offer.

Consider making their participation flexible. For Boniszweski's summer program, competitive dancers must take six of the 12 classes offered over a six-week period, as well as the four-day summer camp, which takes place in mid-August. "This past summer, because of COVID, they paid for six but were able to take all 12 if they wanted," she says. "Lots of people took advantage of that."

For Koch, it didn't make sense to require her intensive dancers to participate in summer programming, partly because she earned more revenue catering to younger students and partly because her older students often made outside summer-training plans. "That's how you build a well-rounded dancer—you want them to go off and get experience from teachers you might not be able to bring in," she says.

Another option: Offering private lessons. Your more serious dancers can take advantage of flexible one-on-one training, and you can charge higher fees for individualized instruction. Consider including a financial incentive to get this kind of programming up and running. "Five years ago, we saw that some kids were asking for private lessons, so we created packages: If you bought five lessons, you'd get one for free—to get people in the door," says Boniszewksi. "After two years, once that program took off, we got rid of the discount. People will sign up for as many as 12 private lessons."

A large group of students stretch in a convention-style space with large windows. They follow a teacher at the front of the room in leaning over their right leg for a hamstring stretch

Koch's summer convention experience several years ago. Photo courtesy East County Performing Arts Center

Bring the (big) opportunities to your students

If you do decide to target older, more serious dancers for your summer programming, you may need to inject some dance glamour to compete with fancier outside intensives.

Bring dancers opportunities they wouldn't have as often during the school year. For Boniszewski, that means offering virtual master classes with big-name teachers, like Misha Gabriel and Briar Nolet. For Koch, it's bringing the full convention experience to her students—and opening it up to the community at large. In past years, she's rented her local community center for a weekend-long in-house convention and brought in professional ballet, jazz, musical theater and contemporary guest teachers.

In 2019, the convention was "nicely profitable" while still an affordable $180 per student, and attracted 120 dancers, a mix of her dancers and dancers from other studios. "It was less expensive than going to a big national convention, because parents didn't have to worry about lodging or travel," Koch says. "We wanted it to be financially attainable for families to experience something like this in our sleepy little town."

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