Dance Teacher International: Ecuador Bound

Adam Holms is the director of ballet education of the Performing Arts Center of Connecticut. For the past three years, he’s traveled to Guayaquil, Ecuador to bring dance education to students, ages 6–18. Dance Teacher asked him to blog about his experiences on this summer’s trip.


Three years ago while teaching a training seminar for Dance Educators of America, I befriended two Ecuadorian women: Ana Jarrin and Gigi Leone. They are the co-founders and directors of a private dance school in Guayaquil, Centro Ludico Artistico Pirouette (CLAP). The three of us joined forces to forge the foundation of an international teaching partnership. Through CLAP, we’ve established dance residencies in public schools, encouraging children of all experiences and technical abilities to feel a sense of success and purpose throughout their lives.


My mission is simple: To bridge cultural differences through the universal understanding of movement and artistic expression; to encourage the exchange of teaching methodologies and pedagogical practices; and to share the passion for self-expression with children who would normally never have the opportunity to realize their own physical potential and artistic voice.


This summer, my work in Guayaquil will be in three distinct areas:

1. Conservatory based instruction at CLAP. I’ll be setting the Nutcracker on students, ages 6–18. In addition to teaching students, part of my work here will be training dance teachers in Ecuador to run and create arts outreach programs. This partnership also includes curriculum design and implementation, helping teachers design and structure their own classes and set choreography.


2. Outreach and community based instruction through the implementation of a dance residency within the Los Lojas Community School, focusing on children in rural, impoverished communities in grades 3, 4 and 5.


3. Higher education based instruction through my work as a visiting professor at the Universidad de Especialidades Espiritu Santo. At the University, I will be teaching choreography classes and workshops for pedagogy and methodology.


I know this experience will reflect those of past teaching adventures (at home or abroad), but my lesson plans and ideas will have to be altered, my classroom and studio management skills will be tested, and things will undoubtedly be lost through translation. Did I mention I don’t speak Spanish? But all the while, I’ll be reminded of the brilliance that is found within children who are encouraged, mentored, and supported to dance.


My departure date: July 31. Ecuador here I come!



Adam Holms M.A. is director of ballet education for The Performing Arts Center of Connecticut and is a graduate of the NYU/ABT Masters program in ballet pedagogy and teaching dance in the professions. He holds a B.S in secondary education concentrating in American history as well as a degree in ballet performance from Butler University. In addition to his work at PACC, Holms works for ABT’s outreach programs in NYC public schools and is on the faculty of Dance Educators of America’s annual teaching seminar.

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.

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.