Chicago Arts for the Win!

Deeply Rooted Dance TheaterThe MacArthur Foundation’s International Connections Fund—which supports two-way artistic exchanges to benefit the Chicago arts—has awarded grants to 18 Chicago arts and culture organizations. Artistic exchanges will be happening in 16 different countries! What makes Chicago so special? The MacArthur Foundation is housed in Chicago, and it’s the home city of the organization’s founders, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur.

The Chicago dance world makes a pretty respectable appearance in the list of awardees: Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Clinard Dance Theatre, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater and Same Planet Different World all received funding.

Drumroll, please…

Chicago Human Rhythm Project, a tap performance and education organization, got $45,000 to conduct artistic residences in Chicago, Brazil and Argentina—including classes for kids.

Clinard Dance Theatre received $20,000 to do an exchange with contemporary dance company in India, so that each dance company can create a new piece.

Deeply Rooted Dance Theater was awarded $40,000 for a multi-year residency with a dance company in South Africa.

Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre got $47,000 to fund a collaboration with a dance company in Israel, for the development and premiere of a new piece.

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.

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