Sponsored by Dance Teacher Web

8 Reasons You Don’t Want to Miss This Year’s Dance Teacher Web Conference

Courtesy Dance Teacher Web

While summer usually sparks dreams of warm vacations in the sun, many dance teachers don't have the luxury of taking a week off to lounge by the pool. But what if a stellar educational opportunity for dance instructors just happened to take place in sunny Las Vegas?

The Dance Teacher Web Conference and Expo, happening August 4–7 and founded and directed by longtime successful studio owners and master teachers Steve Sirico and Angela D'Valda Sirico, gives dance teachers and administrators a chance to learn, network and recharge during a one-of-a-kind working vacation. Here, attendees can rub shoulders with esteemed industry professionals, get inspired by a variety of workshops and even walk away with a new certification or two:


1. Learn from the best.

Each year, Dance Teacher Web brings in all-star faculty to teach master classes, lead seminars and give you the insight you need to take your studio to the next level. This year's star-studded lineup includes Mihran Kirakosian, best known for his collaborations with Britney Spears, Madonna and Ricky Martin; Tre Holloway, who's worked with Gwen Stefani and John Legend; tap dancer Jason Marquette; and a slew of other industry leaders.

Courtesy Dance Teacher Web

​2. Stay up-to-date on industry trends.

Want to learn new ways to promote your studio? Thinking about starting a podcast? Attendees can pick from an assortment of seminars about marketing, management and social media trends. This year's conference includes a new seminar led by Kirakosian about growing your YouTube and Instagram followings.

Studio owners can get even more targeted information with a pre-conference seminar called Dance Studio Confidential, with tips on building better communication, problem-solving in the studio and utilizing new technology.

3. Increase your revenue.

Beyond insightful workshops, teachers and studio owners will walk away with new curriculum and strategies to generate revenue. Judy Murray, co-owner of Catherine's Dance Studio in Kansas City, Missouri, has been attending the conference for the last seven years and has each year watched her studio grow as a result. Last year, Murray and her team purchased an acro dance program at the conference in the hopes of creating a new source of revenue. The result? So many students enrolled in the new class that she had to start a waiting list.

Courtesy Dance Teacher Web

4. Bond with your team.

On top of all the new skills that studio owners and instructors walk away with, many find that their studio leaves the experience as a more unified group. After Murray's dance teachers returned from the conference, she couldn't help but notice their newfound cohesiveness. "They came back as a team," she says.

5. Earn a new certification.

One of the most unique aspects of Dance Teacher Web is that attendees can earn a certification in everything from preschool acrobatic arts to an adult ballet curriculum in just four days. These courses are scheduled for the mornings so instructors can still attend afternoon seminars and classes.

Courtesy Dance Teacher Web

6. Network with dance leaders from all over the world.

With so many dance instructors and icons under one roof, you're bound to make valuable connections. Nina Scattaregia, a teacher at Dance Factory in Buckhannon, West Virginia, has been attending the Dance Teacher Web Conference since 2009, and she considers the relationships she's made there to be one of the most valuable benefits. "I brought Jason Marquette in to do some cool things at my studio as a result of meeting him way out in Vegas," she says.

7. Win free stuff!

This year's expo hall will boast 67 exhibitors, from flooring companies to dancewear brands. Attendees can stop in to shop software programs, costumes, shoes and more, but it's the final day that leaves people feeling like they won the lottery. During the expo's grand finale, exhibitors give away more than $10,000 in prizes, from trips to Australia to recital costumes.

8. Do it all for a reasonable price.

Since the Dance Teacher Web Conference is created with the financially-savvy studio owner in mind, they're all about giving you more bang for your buck. Attendees get an exclusive rate of $84 a night at Planet Hollywood for the conference, and can enjoy special discounts on the conference itself if they bring a group.

Visit danceteachersummerexpo.com to register now.

News
Courtesy Russell

Gregg Russell, an Emmy-nominated choreographer known for his passionate and energetic teaching, passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, November 22, at the age of 48.

While perhaps most revered as a master tap instructor and performer, Russell also frequently taught hip-hop and musical theater classes, showcasing a versatility that secured him a successful career onstage and in film and television, both nationally and abroad.


His resumé reads like an encyclopedia of popular culture. Russell worked with celebrities such as Bette Midler and Gene Kelly; coached pop icon Michael Jackson and Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane; danced in the classic films Clueless and Newsies; performed on "Dancing with the Stars" and the Latin Grammy Awards; choreographed for Sprite and Carvel Ice Cream; appeared with music icons Reba McEntire and Jason Mraz; and graced stages from coast to coast, including Los Angeles' House of Blues and New York City's Madison Square Garden.

But it was as an educator that Russell arguably found his calling. His infectious humor, welcoming aura and inspirational pedagogy made him a favorite at studios, conventions and festivals across the U.S. and in such countries as Australia, France, Honduras and Guatemala. Even students with a predilection for classical styles who weren't always enthused about studying a percussive form would leave Russell's classes grinning from ear to ear.

"Gregg understood from a young age how to teach tap and hip hop with innovation, energy and confidence," says longtime dance educator and producer Rhee Gold, who frequently hired Russell for conferences and workshops. "He gave so much in every class. There was nothing I ever did that I didn't think Gregg would be perfect for."

Growing up in Wooster, Ohio, Russell was an avid tap dancer and long-distance runner who eventually told his mother, a dance teacher, that he wanted to exclusively pursue dance. She introduced him to master teachers Judy Ann Bassing, Debbi Dee and Henry LeTang, whom he credited as his three greatest influences.

"I was instantly smitten, though competitive with him," says longtime friend and fellow choreographer Shea Sullivan, a protégé of LeTang. "Over the years we developed a mutual respect and admiration for each other. He touched so many lives. This is a great loss."

After graduating from Wooster High School, Russell was a scholarship student at Edge Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles, where he lived for many years. He founded a company, Tap Sounds Underground, taught at California Dance Theatre and even returned to Edge as an instructor, all while maintaining a busy travel schedule.

A beloved member of the tap community, Russell not only spoke highly of his contemporaries, but earned his place among them as a celebrated performing artist and teacher. With friend Ryan Lohoff, with whom he appeared on CBS's "Live to Dance," he co-directed Tap Into The Network, a touring tap intensive founded in 2008.

"His humor, giant smile and energy in his eyes are the things I will remember most," says Lohoff. "He inspired audiences and multiple generations of dancers. I am grateful for our time together."

Russell was on the faculty of numerous dance conventions, such as Co. Dance and, more recently, Artists Simply Human. He was known as a "teacher's teacher," having discovered at the young age of 18 that he enjoyed passing on his knowledge to other dance educators. He wrote tap teaching tips for Dance Studio Life magazine and led classes for fellow instructors whenever he was on tour.

In 2018, he opened a dance studio, 3D Dance, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he had been living most recently.

Russell leaves behind a wife, Tessa, and a 5-year-old daughter, Lucy.


"His success was his family and his daughter," says Gold. "They changed his entire being. He was a happy man."

GoFundMe campaigns to support Russell's family can be found here and here.

Teaching Tips
@jayplayimagery, courtesy Blackstone

Zoom classes have created a host of challenges to overcome, but this new way of learning has also had some surprising perks. Students and educators are becoming more adaptable. Creativity is blossoming even amid space constraints. Dancers have been able to broaden their horizons without ever leaving home.

In short, in a year filled with setbacks, there is still a lot to celebrate. Dance Teacher spoke to four teachers about the virtual victories they've seen thus far and how they hope to keep the momentum going back in the classroom.

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News
Betty Jones in The Moor's Pavane, shot for Dance Magazine's "Dancers You Should Know" series in 1955. Zachary Freyman, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow

An anchor of the Humphrey-Limón legacy for more than 70 years, Betty Jones died at her home in Honolulu on November 17, 2020. She remained active well into her 90s, most recently leading a New York workshop with her husband and partner, Fritz Ludin, in October 2019.

Betty May Jones was born on June 11, 1926 in Meadville, Pennsylvania, and moved with her family to the Albany, New York, area, where she began taking dance classes. Just after she turned 15 in 1941, she began serious ballet study at Jacob's Pillow, which was under the direction of Anton Dolin and Alicia Markova for the season. Over the next three summers as a scholarship student, Jones expanded her range and became an integral part of Jacob's Pillow. Among her duties was working in the kitchen, where her speedy efficiency earned her the nickname of "Lightning."

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