Editor's Note

Can you believe it’s already August? Though summer doesn’t necessarily bring downtime for teachers—you took your competition team to Nationals, you took yourself to teacher training or a festival and most likely you continued to teach daily dance class—I do hope you found some relaxation as well as rejuvenation.

 

Debbie Allen spent her summer directing a musical theater production in L.A. The gorgeous photos by Rose Eichenbaum for our cover and feature story capture Allen’s contagious energy on the set of Twist—An American Musical. Entertainment seems to run through the woman’s veins! So running a dance studio where she can mentor aspiring entertainers only makes sense. But did you know she has also directed television episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy”?

 

“When you walk onto the set and Patrick Dempsey starts doing jetés and singing ‘Fame,’ you know you’re doing something right,” Allen told writer Victoria Looseleaf. Catch up on more of the dancing-directing-writing-producing whirlwind of the 10 years since Allen first graced the cover of Dance Teacher (April, 2001) in “Dynamic Debbie Allen.”

 

Allen isn’t the only one whose hand stirs many pots. It seems like every week there is a new dance style (Zumba, anyone?) now that reality TV has boosted dance into the entertainment mainstream. How do you keep up with it all? Helping to keep you informed and connected is what we at Dance Teacher live for. In this Back to School issue, alone, we cover an alphabet soup of at least 10 different categories of dance: aerial, ballet, belly dance, hip hop, Limón technique, musical theater, Tanztheater and world dance.

 


If, for example, you’ve ever wondered how to distinguish between breaking and boogaloo, turn to the Dance Teacher's Guide to Hip Hop, where the directors of the Hip-Hop Conservatory in New York explain the moves and the influences, and name the people behind it all.

 

And what is dance without music? Turn to the new Music and Media Guide (page 98) to refresh your library of music for dance class and instructional DVDs. Are you in a rut? Try one of Amira Mor’s Middle Eastern music suggestions to literally shake things up.

 

Do you “like” us on Facebook? I invite you to join our Facebook discussion board and share your expertise as well as your questions.

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.

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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.

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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.

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