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I didn't realize how much the whole movement meant to me until I saw the mass of male dancers congregated in front of "Good Morning America" led by the likes of Travis Wall, Alex Wong and Robbie Fairchild. It was pre-7 am—I was all packed up and ready to begin my trek to work when I stumbled upon a livestream of the event. I had read an article the day prior, and heard some whispering about a meet-up outside "GMA." But I wasn't quite sure what type of turnout I could expect. And I certainly could not anticipate how it would make me feel.

Three hundred dancers, young and old, males and their female allies, taking ballet class in the middle of Times Square. It wasn't about Lara Spencer. It wasn't about "GMA." It was about boys - men who dance, our shared experiences: personal tales of resilience and passion for movement. It was about our collective voices finally being given the platform we deserved. It was a glorious, life-affirming moment.

I teared up.

As a young male dancer, I was fortunate enough to have devoted parents who drove me to and from the dance studio and sisters to share my passion for dance with. I felt supported. But I just as often felt the need to keep my dancer identity a secret in fear of retaliation.

I remember making speedy exits from a dance studio in my hometown adjacent to a popular teenager hangout spot. Making sure that I was dressed in regular, inconspicuous, "nondancer" attire. Hiding my face. Avoiding eye contact. Terrified that I'd be spotted and outed for having taken a ballet class.

I remember my classmates asking me how I spent my after-school hours, and how I'd evade the question, making every effort possible to conceal the countless hours I spent in a dance studio.

I remember watching my high school dance ensemble performing onstage, admiring their work, wanting to join in, but deciding that it would not be wise for me to do so. It was too close to home. I didn't want to take the spotlight, become the center of attention and assume all the baggage that came along with it. The judgmental stares, the snide comments, the condescending giggles, the bullies...

Lara Spencer, you may not be the problem, but you're a part of the problem. Being a dancer is tough. Being a male dancer is even tougher and for reasons it shouldn't be. Those who defy the odds and continue dancing have every reason to celebrate.

You can't change the world overnight, but you can prevent the world from changing you.

Dear Prince George, I hope that you hold your head up high, continue doing what you love and know that the rest of the dance world is dancing along with you. #BoysDanceToo

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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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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."

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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.

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