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.

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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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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Courtesy Shake the Ground

Dance competitions were among the first events to be shut down when the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in the U.S. in mid-March, and they've been among the last able to restart.

So much of the traditional structure of the competition—large groups of dancers and parents from dozens of different studios; a new city every week—simply won't work in our new pandemic world.

How, then, have competitions been getting by, and what does the future look like?

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