The Show Must Go on: 4 Pros on How They Managed Their Most Embarrassing Onstage Moments

Nathalia Arja in George Balanchine's "Emeralds." Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, courtesy of Miami City Ballet

Whether it's a wardrobe malfunction or a spectacular, opera-house–sized fail, onstage mistakes happen to everybody. See how these four professionals survived their worst mishaps—and what they took away from them.

​Crystal Brothers

Brothers and Rafael Ferreras in Trey McIntyre's The Reassuring Effects (of Form and Poetry). Photo by Louis Tucker, courtesy of Ballet Memphis

Ballet Memphis veteran Crystal Brothers had performed the Glinda variation in Steven McMahon's Wizard of Oz several times in her career. But during the most recent run, McMahon slightly altered the steps—two days before the performance. "It was already ingrained in my body, so when we changed it, I was determined to remember it," says Brothers. "I went over it so many times that I forgot it onstage." All she could do was improvise. "I just kept running around doing some passé relevés, flickin' my wrist, trying to hit a ping. An accent here, accent there."

Brothers got away with it. "All my ballet mistress had to say was, 'Oh, it looked like you had a funny smile on your face.' " The audience was none the wiser.

The Lesson: Occasional memory malfunctions are inevitable. "Just don't freeze," says Brothers. "Even though you feel like a deer in headlights and you just want to go crawl under a rock and die, make something up. Sparkle, sparkle. Hit an accent." With musicality and a smile, you might escape the audience's (and even your ballet mistress') scrutiny.

The Conversation
Unsplash

When it comes to running a thriving dance studio, Cindy Clough knows what she's talking about. As executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner for more than four decades, she's all too aware of the unique challenges the job presents, from teaching to scheduling to managing employees and clients.

Here, Clough shares her best advice for new studio owners, and the answers to some common questions that come up when you're getting started.

Keep reading... Show less
Unsplash

Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat. The list goes on—and you have to decide not only what type of presence you'll have on each platform, but also whether you and your faculty will network with students and family members. How can you set boundaries for yourself and your faculty on social media?

The easiest option may be to prohibit these interactions entirely. At the Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, Florida, staff and faculty may not "friend" or otherwise connect with current students or those under the age of 18 on social media, explains Gordon Wright, Harid's executive vice president and director.

At the Dance Zone in Henderson, Nevada, the handbook states that social media should be handled "in a professional manner." Owner Jami Artiga encourages students and faculty to share photos and tag the studio, but prefers not to "friend" kids from her personal account. "Of course, my son dances at the studio, and we have teachers with kids who go here, so sometimes the line gets blurry," she says.

Robin Dawn Ryan of the Robin Dawn Academy in Cape Coral, FL, also has a few students on her Facebook friend list, "but I don't put a lot about my personal life on the site," she says. She uses the platform more to keep track of what dancers and their parents are posting about the studio. "If they put up something they shouldn't," she says, whether that's a bullying post or an unflattering image, "I'll ask them to take it down."

Ryan tends to keep her social-media shout-outs generic: "So proud of this year's graduates!" and "Our dancers looked beautiful at prom!" That way, she can show support without spending hours online or worrying about missing any one student's achievement.

Dancer Health
Getty image

When ballet star David Hallberg sought out the medical team at The Australian Ballet to help him recover from his ankle surgeries, one of the things rehabilitation specialist Megan Connelly had him learn was to jump from his hips. By doing so, he learned to put less stress on his lower legs and feet and access the powerhouse group of muscles surrounding the hips, most commonly referred to as the glutes. While many parts of his rehab were particular to him, understanding how to properly engage the glutes is something many professional and pre-professional dancers can stand to gain from.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty image

Many a studio owner might agree that the idea of maternity leave is laughable. "So many people say, 'I was back after two weeks—we had a competition,'" says Meagan Ziebarth, a former owner who sold her studio two years ago. "If that works for you, and you feel great, wonderful. But I feel passionately that having a baby is one of the most transformational life events, and you don't need to put that kind of pressure on yourself and accept that that's the norm."

So how can you take the maternity leave you want and make sure your studio doesn't run itself into the ground? We asked three who did it for their best advice—including what they wish they'd done differently.

State Your Terms

Liza Grundy
ReMix Dance Collective
Morgantown, Pennsylvania
Enrollment: 150
15 years in business

It wasn't until the birth of her third child in 2015 that Liza Grundy finally allowed herself the monthlong maternity leave she'd always wanted as a studio owner. "With my first two, I was so focused, so driven. I wish desperately that I'd taken more time with them—that I'd relished the mom thing a little more," she says. "When you own your own studio, you can end up giving all of yourself to that, and then there's nothing left of you to give your own kid. With my youngest, I told myself, 'I'm not letting myself miss this. I will take the time and find a way."

  • Invest in a studio manager. "It took me a long time to be in a position to afford a studio manager, but I would recommend you get one and get a good one. They will be worth their weight in gold," says Grundy. "I was able to trust a lot of the everyday business tasks to my studio manager. And everything else falls into place—your numbers will go up. Everything gets more organized. Communication becomes quicker and smoother."
  • Trust your team. "It can be hard to relinquish control, especially when you've built something," she says. "But that old adage, that you're only as strong as your team, is so true. If you have the means to delegate things to certain people, do it. And don't micromanage them. I allowed people to do their jobs and trusted the fact that I had a really good team in place."
  • Ease back in–on your own terms. "I took back classes as I felt ready," she says. "For example, my 'Lil' Breakerz' class, which is hip hop for ages 3 to 6, takes quite a bit of energy. So that was the last class I ended up taking back." She also made it clear that any check-ins with the studio would happen only by her initiation. "The studio knew not to contact me, unless it was a serious emergency," she says. "I would check in and make sure things were going smoothly, but on my terms."
Dance Teacher Tips
International performer Joy Womack balances flexibility and strength to maintain her turnout. Photo by Quinn Wharton for Pointe.

Turnout is one of the defining characteristics of classical ballet and the foundation of your technique, but the deceptively simple concept of external rotation can be hard to execute. For those born with hip joints that don't naturally make a tight fifth position, it's tempting to take shortcuts in the quest for more rotation, but you'll end up with weaker technique and a higher risk of injury. We asked top teachers and physical therapists to break down the meaning of turnout and offer safe ways to maximize your range.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Photo via @sparklethetinychi on Instagram

In our not-so-humble opinion, dancers and dogs should rule the world. So, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise to hear that we are positively obsessed with all things that are dog and dance at the same time. Namely, puppies dressed up in tutus. OMG—so cute!

We couldn't keep our knowledge of this perfect combination of dreaminess to ourselves. So we decided to share with you some tutu-wearing dogs from Instagram that we will never get over.

You're welcome!

Get ready to experience a level of cuteness that is almost too much to handle, ladies and gentlemen!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
FreeVerse photography, courtesy of Quenga

As a hula instructor at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, Hawaii native Kaina Quenga is committed to sharing the traditional dances and culture of Polynesia with the people of the Big Apple. Through training with famed kuma hula (master teacher) Johnny Lum Ho of Halau O Ka Ua Kani Lehua, Quenga developed a respect for and understanding of the artform that has carried her through the nearly 20 years of her professional career.

In spite of her success as a teacher at 92nd Street Y (she also teaches at Concourse House Day Care in the Bronx and Spoke the Hub Dancing in Brooklyn, and offers free classes in various parks around NYC during the spring and summer), Quenga never anticipated becoming an educator. "I really just lucked into it—I'm not a kuma hula," she says. One can only become an official hula master teacher when their own kuma hula bequeaths knowledge to them through a formal ceremonial ritual after years of training. "But when I came to New York, everyone kept asking me if I would teach classes. There was a need for it. So I started teaching the basics."

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Thinkstock

Q: I'm an older dancer/teacher and have some pain under my heel bone and Achilles tendon. I feel it most in the mornings and when I'm walking down stairs. Would wearing teacher shoes with heels help me?

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
Carol Channing in the original 1964 production of Hello, Dolly! Photo by Eileen Darby, courtesy of DM Archives

The inimitable Carol Channing, best known for her role as the titular Hello, Dolly!, passed away today at 97.

Though she became a three-time Tony winner, Channing was born in Seattle, far from the Great White Way, in 1921. After growing up in San Francisco, she attended the famed Bennington College, studying dance and drama. She later told the university, "What Bennington allows you to do is develop the thing you're going to do anyway, over everybody's dead body." For Channing, that meant decades of fiery, comical performances, bursting with energy.

Keep reading... Show less
Editor's List: The Goods
Getty image

Here at Dance Media, we think everyone's list of New Year's resolutions should include reading more 💁♀️. And aside from reading Dance Teacher magazine (which should, of course, be a resolution in and of itself), we recommend some seriously wonderful dancer memoirs.

Here are three interesting books we think you should check out (or re-check out) in 2019!

Share your favorite dancer memoirs in our comment section! We can't wait to hear what you're reading!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending

When it comes to Broadway, Becca Petersen does it all. Not only is she a swing learning multiple roles for Mean Girls on Broadway as well as understudy for the principal roles of Cady Heron and Regina George, but she also plays an administrative role as the assistant dance captain. When she's not onstage dancing one of the 10 different tracks she covers, or acting out two of Broadway's most notorious mean ladies, she's in the audience, taking notes in order to clean choreography in the next rehearsal. "Once the show opens and the creative team leaves, the dance captains, stage managers and associates keep things running," Petersen says. "I help teach choreography to newcomers when there is turnover and make sure the dancing looks good from day to day."

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Joanne Chapman teaching turns (photo by Dan Boskovic, courtesy Joanne Chapman School of Dance)

Think back to your newbie dancer days. Can you remember your introduction to spotting? It might've involved staring hard at your own reflection in the mirror as you wrestled with your first pirouette. Or maybe your teacher had you put your hands on your shoulders as you attempted a series of half-chaînés across the floor.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Sponsored

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox

Sponsored