#Trending: Dancewear Makers Are Changing the Game for Dancers of Color

So this is cool: The dance apparel company Mahogany Blues has joined the ranks of other dancewear manufacturers in creating a range of skin-colored leotards for dancers of color.

The leotards come in three styles—halter, camisole and short sleeve—and four shades of nude. In a particularly awesome touch, three of the leotard shades are named for Disney princesses: Mulan, Jasmine and Tiana. The fourth shade, Amina, is named for a fierce African warrior queen. (Is this a ripple of The Misty Effect? We hope so!)

Mahogany Blues creator Whitney Bracey with dancers from Dallas Black Dance Theater and Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas. Photo courtesy of Mahogany Blues.

Other dancewear companies offer leotards (Body Wrappers, Capezio) and tights (So Dança, Bloch, Eurotard, Danskin) in a range of skin tones. And after Royal Ballet soloist Eric Underwood posted an Instagram video last summer of the tedious process of temporarily dyeing his ballet shoes before a performance, Bloch came out with canvas shoes in the color "Eric Tan!"

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Teacher Voices
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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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