Editor's Note: Ballroom Is Madhot

D’Angelo Castro and Amanda Carbajales, the adorable youngsters who won the $500,000 top prize on Paula Abdul’s “Live to Dance” with their ballroom dancing, are from Lory and Manuel Castro’s Dance Town studio in Miami. Little D’Angelo first captured our hearts from the New York City Dance Alliance nationals stage in 2009, when he was only 8 years old. Last summer at the Dance Teacher Summit, his mom’s Latin group number was an electrifying crowd pleaser in the Capezio A.C.E. Award finals. No question about it, ballroom dance is hot.

 

Ever since ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” hit the small screen, ballroom has been grabbing an ever larger slice of media attention. And Tony Dovolani has been part of the show almost since the beginning, signing on as a pro for Season 2. In person, he is the ultimate nice-guy-next-door type who makes you feel everything you say is smart and funny. Except that you’d have to have lived in Kosovo to be his neighbor. (He came to the U.S. when his family was forced to leave because of political upheaval.) Writer Jen Jones tells his inspirational story in “Dancing with Dovolani”.

 

Long before “DWTS,” Pierre Dulaine was using ballroom to help public school children learn social skills. The 2005 award-winning documentary Mad Hot Ballroom brought his program into the public eye, and Antonio Banderas starred in the Hollywood version, Take the Lead. In Technique this month, we asked Dulaine’s dance partner and Dancing Classrooms artistic director, Yvonne Marceau, to demonstrate how she teaches a basic waltz—a foundational step that all dancers need to know, especially ballet students.

 

Save the date: July 29–31. Perhaps you’ve considered how you might join the growing ballroom trend. Whether by expanding curriculum or renting out studio space for classes or rehearsals, some studio owners are finding ballroom is a great way to get new people through their doors. Sharing this and other studio business strategies is part of why more than 1,000 dance educators come to NYC every summer for the Dance Teacher Summit—three days of technique classes, teaching advice, networking and business empowerment. Plus we have a lot of fun! Don’t miss it: www.danceteachersummit.com.

Leap! Executive Director Drew Vamosi (Courtesy Leap!)

Since its inaugural season in 2012, Leap! National Dance Competition has been all about the little things.

"I wanted to have a 'boutique' competition. One where we went out to only one city every weekend, so I could be there myself, and we could really get to know the teachers and watch their kids progress from year to year," says Leap! executive director Drew Vamosi. According to Vamosi, thoughtful details make all the difference, especially during a global pandemic that's thrown many dancers' typical comp-season schedules for a loop. That's why Leap! prides itself on features like its professional-quality set design, as well as its one-of-a-kind leaping competition, where dancers can show off their best tricks for special cash and merchandise prizes.

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Health & Body
Getty Images

The term "body shaming" might bring up memories of that instructor from your own training who made critical remarks about—or even poked and prodded—dancers' bodies.

Thankfully, we're (mostly) past the days when authority figures felt free to openly mock a dancer's appearance. But body shaming remains a toxic presence in the studio, says Dr. Nadine Kaslow, psychologist for Atlanta Ballet: "It's just more hidden and more subtle." Here's how to make sure your teaching isn't part of the problem.

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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.

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