Editor's Note: Reaching for the Stars

Heading into Nutcracker season, we are reminded of how many young dancers grow up dreaming of Sugar Plum Fairies. But with “So You Think You Can Dance” on the scene, Clara and her prince now have a significant rival when it comes to youthful dreams. The TV show gives dancers a high-profile alternative to The Nutcracker as a worthy pre-professional ambition.


This month the two newest “SYTYCD” winners grace the cover of our sister publication Dance Spirit. But here in the pages of Dance Teacher, we’re even more excited about what happens behind the scenes. In our cover story about Stacey Tookey, you’ll get an inside look at how the Emmy Award–nominated choreographer works with the dancers to showcase their stellar technique.


Tookey and other audience favorites from the show are also active in the convention scene, making it a popular pathway to “SYTYCD” success. Not only is the convention floor a great place to be noticed by the likes of Tookey, Mia Michaels, Brian Friedman and Tyce Diorio, but it’s where dancers build the chops necessary to ace an audition in the commercial world. Check out the annual Dance Teacher Convention Guide (available in our print, iPad and Nook editions).


As great as conventions are for exposure, nothing can replace the fundamental training and support a dancer receives in her home studio. That’s why we gave the green light to writer Rachel Berman to talk with past season contestants about their early teachers. Berman, a former dancer with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, wondered why there is so little acknowledgement of teachers on the show. “They never give the teachers enough credit,” she said when she proposed the story. “These whiz kids did not come from nowhere!” In her story, you’ll meet the hometown teachers behind four “SYTYCD” stars.


And there is much more in this issue to inspire and intrigue. Igal Perry, for instance, demonstrates his method for teaching a développé à la seconde in Technique (click here for the video). And in “Left vs. Right," Pennsylvania Ballet principal Julie Diana shares the advice of master teachers on how to develop a dancer’s weaker side.

Wishing you peace and good health for the holidays!




Photo by Nathan Sayers




Health & Body
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Scott Robbins, Courtesy IABD

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Studio Owners
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"I struggled with the decision for a month, but it hit me that a virtual recital was the one thing that would give our kids a sense of closure and happiness after a few months on Zoom," says Lisa Kaplan Barbash, owner of TDS Dance Company in Stoughton, MA. She's one of countless studio owners who faced the challenges of social distancing while needing to provide some sort of end-of-year performance experience that had already been paid for through tuition and costume fees.

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