Editor's Note

When a dancer becomes a teacher, her focus shifts away from her own technique and artistry to what is best for her students. In this issue we feature several veteran performers who’ve recently taken this step in their careers. Canadian ballerina Chan Han Goh, for example, accepted leadership this summer of her family’s 30-year-old Vancouver studio. After 21 years as a ballerina with The National Ballet of Canada, she knows firsthand what is required of students who aspire to follow in her footsteps. But as she told writer Michael Crabb, it’s harder to be a teacher than a dancer.


Newly retired New York City Ballet star, Darci Kistler, also brought up the topic when she spoke with contributing editor Margaret Fuhrer about furthering the Balanchine philosophy at the School of American Ballet. “When I’m teaching, it’s about what my students need,” she said.


And Gavin Larsen takes us along on her first post-retirement teaching gig in Korea, where she coached local ballet students in their roles for the Oregon Ballet Theatre production of The Nutcracker. Among the challenges? Convincing the impeccably trained children they didn’t have to stand in first position during the party scene. They could relax a little and be natural kids!


As a teacher, you give and give and give. Then comes recital time and you give even more. This issue is full of advice and shared experience that will be useful during this busy season, starting with the annual costume preview. We’re literally “Over the Rainbow” with 15 pages of new and best-selling costumes—and the shoes to go with them—to outfit your young performers in the coming year. And to top it off, check out the hats and headpieces on our Goods page.


Of course, you don’t have to be staging a recital to enjoy this issue. Dance Teacher features topics useful to dance educators in every setting. Whether you own a studio, teach in the public schools or recreational programs or are on faculty at a conservatory or university, I encourage you to take a break and shift the focus back to yourself long enough to read Dance Teacher. I won’t say it will make your job easy, but it may help remind you that you’re not alone. And don’t forget to write me at khildebrand@dancemedia.com to share your recital experiences and tips with your peers across the country.


Karen Hildebrand

Editor in Chief

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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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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