Editor's Note: Building the Future

Sheryl Murakami is living the dream of countless young competition dancers across the country. Ever since the day Beyoncé’s creative team selected Murakami’s demo tape from what must have been a sea of submissions, she has been working with some of the biggest stars in the music video world.

But she didn’t come out of nowhere to nab this celebrity gig. In our cover feature, "Just Dance," writer Jen Jones Donatelli tells how the former comp kid worked her signature sultry moves at the front of Broadway Dance Center classes and performing in rock clubs all over New York before she got her first big break. Her success is as much about courage and persistence as it is about talent.

Every time young dancers get on the competition stage, they’re learning about courage and persistence. They’re building their future—even if it doesn’t include dance.

If you are among those who question whether competition is a good idea, you might be interested in a new book by Harvard scholar Hilary Levey Friedman (see Recommended). Friedman studied teens who compete in dance, soccer and chess and concluded that competition expands the horizons of young people. Those who participate in a win-or-lose culture tend to set their life goals higher than others.

Though it may seem as if Nationals just ended, it’s time to begin preparing for the new season, and this, our annual Competition Issue, has plenty of advice and information to offer, including the “2013 Guide to Competitions,” for your easy reference in the months ahead.

The editors hosted lunch for the 2013 DT Awardees during the Dance Teacher Summit.

Of course, you don’t have to lead a competition team to understand that dance is a competitive field. Every month Dance Teacher shares inspiration and advice to keep you at the top of your game. This month, for instance, studio owners can sharpen their pencils over a cash-flow statement ("Profits Are Up, So Why Can’t I Pay the Bills?”). In Technique, Banu Ogan demonstrates a classic Cunningham step that can inform any style you teach. And History: Lesson Plan is about how Vaganova—never a stellar performer herself—codified a style that became a fundamental ballet training all over the world.

Speaking of inspiration, we’re still on an adrenaline high after the Dance Teacher Summit in August. We had a great time mingling with all those who joined us in NYC to bring the pages of the magazine to life. Mark your calendar for next year, August 1–3, 2014. Until then, Dance Teacher can help you stay connected. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and at dance-teacher.com.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

News
Layeelah Muhammad, courtesy DAYPC

This summer's outcry to fully see and celebrate Black lives was a wake-up call to dance organizations.

And while many dance education programs are newly inspired to incorporate social justice into their curriculums, four in the San Francisco Bay area have been elevating marginalized youth and focusing on social change for decades.

GIRLFLY, Grrrl Brigade, The Alphabet Rockers and Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company fuse dance with education around race, gender, climate change and more, empowering young artists to become leaders in their communities. Here's how they do it.

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Teacher Voices
Getty Images

I often teach ballet over Zoom in the evenings, shortly after sunset. Without the natural light coming from my living room window, I drag a table lamp next to my portable barre so that the computer's camera can see me clearly enough. I prop the laptop on a chair taken from the kitchen and then spend the next few hours running back and forth between the computer screen of Zoom tiles and my makeshift dance floor.

Much of this setup is the result of my attempts to recreate the most important aspects of an in-person dance studio: I have a barre, a floor and as much space as I can reasonably give myself within a small apartment. I do not, however, have a mirror, and neither do most of my students.

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Music
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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