Tired of the go-to dark and emotionally charged songs popular within contemporary dance, Marinda Davis has recently been choreographing to Broadway musicals and Frank Sinatra classics. "I'm afraid contemporary could easily become a fad, not a long-lasting genre, if we're not careful," she says. "We have to explore other types of music, versus doing what everyone else keeps doing."


Davis, who teaches at Broadway Dance Center, WILD Dance Intensive and studios throughout the country, has always used music as a tool to test dancers—a lesson she was taught. "I've always heard music in a unique way," says Davis. "My mentor Sheila Barker noticed this and taught me to interpret the song in my own way, while staying true to her intent, finding the pocket of the song."

Another influence is Pat Catterson, whom Davis studied with at Marymount Manhattan College. Catterson encouraged tempo changes within a single piece. "Kids are used to staying with the same monotonous rhythm," says Davis. For a healthy challenge, she likes to speed up, slow down or even just stop the music to find stillness, something she finds is the hardest for young dancers.

As inclined as Davis is to experiment with new music genres, she keeps her warm-up and across-the-floor music consistent for about a year in her class. "I do this so the students can really concentrate on the technique," she says, "and not have to worry about what comes next, including changes in the music."


Album: Hamilton
Artist: Various Artists, Original Broadcast Recording

"I love that you can literally hear the work Lin-Manuel put into it. The cadences, the melodies, the harmonies, the rhymes, the multisyllabic words and the use of motifs. Hamilton's hyperawareness of time and legacy is something I connect to. I can't stop creating to it."

Hamilton: An American Musical FULL SOUNDTRACK www.youtube.com


Song: "Before My Time"
Artist: J. Ralph featuring Scarlett Johansson and Joshua Bell
Album: Chasing
Ice

"The first time I heard this song, I cried my eyes out. No matter how often I use it in class, I still feel a lump in my throat when it ends. The violin is hauntingly beautiful. There's a specific irony to it, but also a vagueness that allows the listener to interpret on their own. I had originally wanted to use this song on 'Dancing with the Stars,' but it came back unapproved due to licensing."

"Before My Time" by J. Ralph Feat. Scarlett Johansson & Joshua Bell - OSCAR NOMINEE - CHASING ICE www.youtube.com


Song: "A Song For You"
Artist: Donny Hathaway
Album: Donny
Hathaway

"There will never be a song written that's more beautiful. Unlike much of the music today, it is timeless and transcendent. The glissando of the piano sounds like tears falling. The lyrics are so pure and stripped down. The love truly lies in his melody."

Donny Hathaway - A Song For You www.youtube.com


Song: "Uneven Odds"
Artist: Sleeping At Last
Album: Atlas:
Darkness

"I play this song in my warm-up. I love that its last line is 'darkness exists to make light truly count.' I think everyone needs to hear that sentence and be reminded of its power. It puts things into perspective."

Sleeping At Last - Uneven Odds www.youtube.com


Song: "Run Like the River"
Artist: Vintage Trouble
Album: 1 Hopeful
Rd.

"No matter how exhausted, this song always gets me smiling and grooving. It's about loving and believing in someone so much that you're willing to set them free. It reminds me of Sheila Barker. One day, I'll create something to this for her."

Vintage Trouble - Run Like The River (Audio) www.youtube.com


The Conversation
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Q: Our dancers' parents want to observe class, but students won't focus if I let them in the room. I've tried having them observe the last 10 minutes of class, but even that can be disruptive and bring the dancers' progress to a halt. Do you have any advice on how to handle this?

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Courtesy Dance Teacher Web

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At Dance Teacher Web's Conference and Expo, attendees will spend July 29–August 1 in Las Vegas, Nevada learning everything from new teaching methods to studio management software. And as if the dance and business seminars weren't enough, participants can also choose from three certifications to earn during the conference to help expand their expertise, generate new revenue and set their studios apart:

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David Galindo Photography

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Courtesy of Roxey Ballet

This weekend, Roxey Ballet presented a sensory-friendly production of Cinderella at the Kendell Main Stage Theater in Ewing, New Jersey, with sound adjustments, a relaxed house environment and volunteers present to assist audience members with special needs. The production came on the heels of three educational residencies held at New Jersey–based elementary schools in honor of Autism Awareness Month in April.

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Shared via Dance Teacher Network Facebook

I'm a part of a popular group on Facebook called Dance Teacher Network which consists of dance teachers across the country discussing and sharing information on all things dance. Yesterday morning, I spotted a photo shared in the group of four smiling young boys in a dance studio. And I couldn't help but smile to myself and think, "Wow, I never had that...that's pretty damn amazing."

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Photo courtesy of Marr

When Erica Marr discovered ballroom dancing in her late teens, she instantly fell in love with the Latin beats and strong drum lines that challenged her musicality. After shifting her focus away from contemporary and jazz, she began studying with elite ballroom coaches in New York City and quickly earned a World Championship title in her division.

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Studio Owners
Thinkstock

Q: I own a studio in a city that has a competitive dance market. I've seen other studios in my community put ads on Instagram and Facebook for open-call auditions in April, long before most studios have finished their competition season and year-end recitals. Is this fair?

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Dancer Health
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Q: How can I improve my pointed feet?

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Just for fun
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Did you know there is an annual contest in which scientists turn their PhD research into dance? Well there is, and it's even better than you're imagining! I mean, honestly, if our grade-school science teachers had us turn our schoolwork into dances, we may have enjoyed chemistry a bit more 🤣.

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Site Network
New Miami City Ballet corps member Itzkan Barbosa and her mother Miriam Barbosa pose atop a mountain of Itzkan's pointe shoes. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, courtesy of Miriam Barbosa

On the morning of May 1, Miriam Barbosa posted a photo of her daughter, Itzkan, on Facebook. The image itself is striking—Itzkan stands smiling on pointe in front of Miami City Ballet, where she has spent the last year as a pre-professional student, perched atop a mountain of old pointe shoes of all different sizes. But it's the story behind the picture that's inspired so many people to comment their congratulations and appreciation. The photo contains every single one of Itzkan's pointe shoes, from her very first pair up until the moment she got her first professional contract as a corps member with MCB last month. The image not only calls attention to the hard work and dedication necessary for young dancers to achieve their dreams, but to the sacrifices parents make to help them get there.

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