Editor's Note: Off to an Early Start

As dance educators who practically live in the studio, we can sometimes forget that our chosen artform is a rather privileged activity. That’s why Dance Teacher loves to tell the stories of those who devote themselves to widening the circle. This month, for instance, we visit Toni and Uri Sands of TU Dance Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. The former Ailey performers pictured on the cover have made it their mission to identify children whose socioeconomic status is unlikely to lead them to the dance studio, let alone pre-professional-level training. The Sands’ experience demonstrates that even in cities where training opportunities are abundant, there is often room for more. Good news for dance!

Another way to enlarge the circle is by introducing children to dance at an early age. Movement activities can prime the brain for learning in school. And creative dance helps toddlers develop social skills. For those of you considering adding a pre-K program to your curriculum, “Building Brains and Bodies” offers some great advice. And in “Technique,” tapper Courtney Runft shows how to initiate your youngest future hoofers.

As you’re wrapping up your National Dance Week activities (April 26–May 5), you might find yourself asking if your efforts were worth the trouble. In “Event-Planning Toolbox,” three studio directors confirm that visibility is as valuable as profit. They discuss the details of effective event planning—not only the how and what, but the all-important why.

And just as NDW is a great time to show off your studio, so is National Tap Dance Day. This month in “History,” we celebrate Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, whose birthday we recognize every May 25. Post the quick lesson plan on your student bulletin board. Even if tap isn’t their thing, serious dancers know their history!

The Dance Teacher Summit is August 5–7. We’re gearing up for a great 2013 event, so mark your calendar and arrange for your annual trip to NYC now. The Summit is where the pages of Dance Teacher magazine come to life. I hope to see you there! danceteachersummit.com

Photo by Nathan Sayers

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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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