Editor's Note: Fresh Start

The news that Edward Villella would leave Miami City Ballet was first announced more than a year ago. We were as surprised as everyone else when he abruptly accelerated his departure date just as we were preparing the cover of this issue! In “Edward Villella Speaks Out, the former MCB artistic director gave us a very candid interview just days before he left his position. We wish him well as he continues to pass forward to the next generation of dancers what he learned from Mr. Balanchine, “body to body, mind to mind.”

The new year is always a good opportunity to make a fresh start. As you think about your goals for 2013, an update for your studio image may be on the list. In “A New Look for a New Year,” our experts tell how you can make the best first impression on potential customers through your logo, website and social media presence.

We’ve been working on a few changes ourselves. For one, we’re going back to basics for the monthly History column. This issue, we begin with Martha Graham in a new, concise lesson-plan format that you can easily share with students. We’ll introduce other essential dance history makers each month: their impact on the field, the cultural context for their work and why they continue to matter today.

A popular feature of the January issue every year is the Dance Teacher Summer Study Guide, beginning on page 68. Whether you’re helping your students find the right summer intensive or you’re looking for a continuing education opportunity for yourself, you’ll find it here.

Photo by Nathan Sayers

Technique
Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

Not so long ago, it seemed that ballet dancers were always encouraged to pull up away from the floor. Ideas evolved, and more recently it has become common to hear teachers saying "Push down to go up," and variations on that concept.

Charla Genn, a New York City–based coach and dance rehabilitation specialist who teaches company class for Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Hispánico, says that this causes its own problems.

"Often when we tell dancers to go down, they physically push down, or think they have to plié more," she says. These are misconceptions that keep dancers from, among other things, jumping to their full potential.

To help dancers learn to efficiently use what she calls "Mother Marley," Genn has developed these clever techniques and teaching tools.

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Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

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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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