The Career Issue

The New York City dance community has been watching our cover story unfold since late 2013, when the beloved Dance New Amsterdam studio lost its space in Lower Manhattan. What could easily have ended in a familiar news headline—“High Rent Drives Dance Out of the City”—became a very different scenario when a small contemporary company of six stepped up to take over the 36,000-square-foot space. It’s quite a risk, we thought. But it turns out Gina Gibney has a history of thinking big. On the occasion of the grand reopening as Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center, writer Sondra Forsyth explains Gibney’s expansive approach.

The good news continues with a remarkable story that we first heard from Cindy Clough of Just For Kix at our Dance Teacher Summit. All too often we hear negative things about dance studios that compete in the same marketplace, and this is the exact opposite. Writer Caitlin Sims shares the inspiring details of two competing studio owners who came to each other’s aid during times of crisis.

In the DT Higher Ed department, every month we focus on ways you as a studio director can help your dancers make an informed college choice—whether or not they’re headed for the professional stage or screen. This month writer (and college dance department administrator) Lea Marshall looks at the reasons a K–12 teaching certification makes good sense and how the curriculum differs from a BFA degree.

Gina Gibney shows off some of the architectural detail she was able to preserve during studio renovation.

Nominate a colleague or mentor for a Dance Teacher Award. Every year in the July issue and at the Dance Teacher Summit, we honor four educators in the following categories: studios and conservatories, K–12 schools and colleges and universities. Do you know of someone deserving of this honor? Send us your nomination, including a short statement of who the nominee is, which category fits best, where they teach and a brief statement about their most notable achievements: Deadline is March 1.




From top: photo by Matthew Murphy; photo by Christopher Duggan 

Teacher Voices
Getty Images

I often teach ballet over Zoom in the evenings, shortly after sunset. Without the natural light coming from my living room window, I drag a table lamp next to my portable barre so that the computer's camera can see me clearly enough. I prop the laptop on a chair taken from the kitchen and then spend the next few hours running back and forth between the computer screen of Zoom tiles and my makeshift dance floor.

Much of this setup is the result of my attempts to recreate the most important aspects of an in-person dance studio: I have a barre, a floor and as much space as I can reasonably give myself within a small apartment. I do not, however, have a mirror, and neither do most of my students.

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Allie Burke, courtesy Lo Cascio

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.

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Teachers Trending
Courtesy Lovely Leaps

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.

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