Editor's Note

The school year may be winding down, but dance studios everywhere are abuzz with activity in May: rehearsals for year-end recitals, competition teams preparing for nationals and tap dancers celebrating the birthday of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. In this issue, Dance Teacher salutes National Tap Dance Day with a lineup of inspiring tap stories, from the gorgeous Roxane Butterfly sharing her Jimmy Slyde influence, to the annual Flo-Bert Awards, to a pair of enterprising sisters who started an after-school tap program in Minnesota.

 

Regardless of whether your students grow up to favor tap, ballet, jazz, hip hop or modern, it all starts with creative movement. To help nurture your youngest students, Donna Aravena of Seven Star School in Brewster, New York, offers tips on how to effectively grow a preschool program; writer and NYU-ABT Pedagogy program grad Hannah Maria Hayes talks to experts about how to use props to help with coordination; and Eileen Juric’s new DVD, The Children’s Hour of Power, demonstrates the pre-ballet program developed by Dorothy Lister during her tenure at the Joffrey Ballet School.

 

As if May weren’t busy enough, it’s also the time to make your continuing education plans for the summer. “Lifetime Learners,” a supplement to this issue, is a great source of programs designed specifically for teachers. In particular, we invite you to join us for the Dance Teacher Summit, July 29–31. Among our diverse faculty this year are tappers Greg Russell, Mike Minery and Anthony Morigerato; plus Annie and Beverly Spell return with the latest in creative movement curriculum ideas, and Katy Spreadbury reprises her popular “Ballet for Babies.” And that’s only a small sampling. If you’re looking to master a new technique or instruction style, build your studio business, peruse the latest products and services to support your career and compare notes with your peers from around the country, we’ve got it all. We hope to see you in New York City. For more information and registration, go to www.danceteachersummit.com.

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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Dancer Diary
Claire McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

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