Editor's Note: Help Your Dancers Avoid the College Daze

Every fall, as the halls of academia fill with eager freshmen, a new batch of dancers will discover that dance in college bears little resemblance to what they knew at their home studios. It can be a disheartening experience. That’s why it helps to have a professor like Judy Rice as an advocate. With one perfectly pointed foot in the University of Michigan dance department and the other planted in the dance convention circuit, she understands exactly what competition dancers face in a university setting. In "Dance Ambassador," DT editor Kristin Schwab tells the story of how Rice turned personal disappointment into an unexpected career path.

As a studio director, you are in a unique position to prepare dancers for their next steps after high school graduation. In “A Collegiate Affair,” Virginia Commonwealth University interim dance department chair Lea Marshall recommends taking students to a college dance fair and shares tips on how to make the most of the experience.

The DT Higher Ed Guide is a quick reference for your college-bound dancers, and you’ll also want to stock your studio library with the annual Dance Magazine College Guide. Along with descriptions of the most prominent dance programs and a handy comparison chart to make sense of all the choices, the College Guide is full of advice from the dancer’s perspective. One of my favorite parts of the new edition is a list of the top-10 questions every college-bound dancer should be asking. Get your copy at dancemagazine.com/college.

And don’t send your dancers to college without some basic knowledge of the famous artists who’ve created dance history. Each month DT editor Rachel Rizzuto delivers a concise lesson plan to share as a handout or post on your studio bulletin board. This month she presents the father of theatrical jazz dance, Jack Cole—highlights of his career, the dancers he influenced and how to identify his movement vocabulary when seen today.

Whether or not you work with college-bound dancers, we are confident you’ll find something in this issue that speaks to you. Let us know how we’re doing and what you’d like to see in the magazine. You can connect with us on Facebook or write to me at khildebrand@dancemedia.com.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

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Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

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Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

Christy Funsch's teaching career has taken her from New York City to the Bay Area to Portugal, with a stint in a punk band in between. But this fall—fresh off a Fulbright in Portugal at the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, School of Dance (ESD), teaching and researching empathetic embodiment through somatic dance training—Funsch's teaching has taken her to an entirely new location: Zoom. A visiting professor at Slippery Rock University for the 2020–21 academic year, Funsch is adapting her eclectic, boundary-pushing approach to her virtual classes.

Originally from central New York State, Funsch spent 20 years performing in the Bay Area, where she also started her own company, Funsch Dance Experience. "My choreographic work from that time is in the dance-theater experiential, fantasy realm of performance," she says. "I also started blending genres and a lot of urban styles found their way into my choreography."

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Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

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