Editor's Note

As we put together our annual studio business issue, a theme began to emerge. Not only did it seem the biggest challenges faced by studio owners were caused by things they couldn’t plan for, it was often a matter of not knowing the right questions to ask. Sound familiar?


In this issue these resilient entreprenuers tell how they solved problems or simply faced up to a new reality with grace and determination.


- In “Creating the Dream Studio," we’ll give you the questions four studio owners wished they’d asked when renovating space. It will help you troubleshoot for your next building project.


- In “Surviving the Storm," you’ll read about studio directors who learned they could overcome famine, flood and fire—with the help of their communities.
l And in “Built to Last," you’ll meet the charming Blackstones, who’ve grown (and changed!) as businesspeople over 30 years. They literally danced their way into our hearts the rainy afternoon we visited Denise Daniele Dance Studio in southern New Jersey.


If you enjoy these stories, I invite you to attend the Dance Teacher Summit, July 27–29, when studio owners and teachers will gather in New York City to share best practices and inspiration. Talk about community! All year, you work hard, often on your own, to make everything happen. Imagine what takes place when 1,600 people just like you come together. It’s pretty incredible. www.danceteachersummit.com


In the meantime, I’d love to hear what’s on your mind. Write to me at khildebrand@dancemedia.com or “like” Dance Teacher on Facebook.


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Evelyn Cisneros-Legate. Photo by Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West

Evelyn Cisneros-Legate is bringing her hard-earned expertise to Ballet West. The former San Francisco Ballet star is taking over all four campuses of The Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy as the school's new director.

Cisneros-Legate, whose mother put her in ballet classes in an attempt to help her overcome her shyness, trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and School of American Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet as a full company member in 1977. She danced with the company for 23 years, breaking barriers as the first Mexican American to become a principal dancer in the U.S., and has graced the cover of Dance Magazine no fewer than three times.

As an educator, Cisneros-Legate has served as ballet coordinator at San Francisco Ballet, principal of Boston Ballet School's North Shore Studio and artistic director of after-school programming at the National Dance Institute (NDI). Dance Teacher spoke with her about her new position, her plans for the academy and leading in the time of COVID-19.

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The author with Maurice Hines. Photo by Anthony R. Phillips, courtesy Hopkins

In March, prior to sheltering in place due to the coronavirus outbreak, my husband and I traveled from New York City to Miami to screen our award-winning documentary, Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back, at the Miami Film Festival.

Our star, Tony Award–nominated dancer and choreographer Maurice Hines joined us in Miami for the festival—stepping and repeating on the opening night red carpet, sharing anecdotes from his illustrious seven-decade career with local tap students, and holding court at a cocktail mixer with lively female fans.

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Haruko Photography, courtesy ABT

Gabe Stone Shayer may be American Ballet Theatre's newest soloist, but he never dreamed he'd be dancing with the company at all. Though he grew up in Philadelphia, his sights were always set on international ventures—especially The Bolshoi Ballet and The Royal Ballet.

Even in his early training, he was learning from Russian educators: Alexander Boitsov at Gwendolyn Bye Dance Center, and Alexei and Natalia Cherov, from the Koresh School of Dance. At age 13, he transferred to The Rock School for Dance Education, where he danced until his acceptance to The Bolshoi Ballet Academy at age 14. At 16, Shayer returned to spend his summer in the States and attended ABT's summer intensive—fully intent on going back to Bolshoi to continue his training in the fall. Four weeks in, he was offered a studio-company contract. "I was so surprised," Shayer says. "Having come of age in Russia, I was very Eurocentric. Of course ABT was on my radar, I just never imagined it was for me."

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