DT on Dance Moms: The Sneak

This week Christi and Kelly's unfounded disregard for Abby Lee Miller's choreography rose to another level. When Paige curiously wasn't given any rehearsal time for her solo (the TV producers had nothing to do with this, I'm sure), Kelly jumped at the opportunity to test her own dance-making chops and tweak Abby's choreography. The result? Fifteen seconds of pure laughter as we watch the untrained and most likely tipsy mother attempt to demonstrate a body roll and add in a fan-kick. (The longterm result? Little Paige learns it's OK to disrespect teachers.)

 

But the highlight of the episode was Abby's group routine. The choreography was stunning—it even brought the tough-as-nails Christi to tears! The dance, "Land Unforgiven," was clear, simple and showed a fresh and mature side of the 9 to 11-year-olds. I was surprised Abby's team didn't place higher; though we didn't get to see the real competition.

 

Abby's "Land Unforgiven" had all the right ingredients for winning choreography. Want the recipe? Read "Bringing Home the Trophy," in which Kelley Burke, owner of the winning studio Westchester Dance Academy, Mandy Moore, Joey Dowling and other top choreographers offer their special elements for creating flavorful and unique competition dances.

 

 

Maddie shows the perfect reaction to Kelly's brilliant choreography.

Photo courtesy of Lifetime TV.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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