Editor's Note: Winning Moments

When I first became an editor, there was quite a debate about whether or not to use the word “winning” when it came to dance, so I learned to write about competition using phrases like “she was awarded a trophy,” or “she placed first.” Though I understand the perspective held by many in our field—to focus too much on the win can undermine the artistry of dance—I’ve since come to terms with the word. Who, after all, doesn’t want to be a winner?

But along with the trophies, let’s not forget the quiet wins that occur in daily class or rehearsal—the aha moments when it’s just you and the mirror, and something you’ve been struggling with suddenly clicks. As choreographers, business owners, educators and competition judges, we all appreciate accolades for work well done. Our wins are worth celebrating.

We are pleased this month to celebrate Westchester Dance Academy. Dancers from the studio are consistent finalists at competitions, so when we planned a piece about directors who choreograph their own competition numbers, Kelly Burke was at the top of our list. It was a treat to spend time with Burke and meet her mother and business partner, Sallie, and some of her star students—the tremendously poised young women aged 14 and 16 who are pictured in “Final Pose,” page 130. You can hear more from Burke in an exclusive interview at www.dance-teacher.com.

In “Bringing Home the Trophy” (page 66), Burke and other studio choreographers share their strategies for creating award-winning work. Plus we’ve added some tips from “So You Think You Can Dance” celebrities Mandy Moore and Joey Dowling.

Be sure to consult the “Competition Guide” beginning on page 114 as you plan your season. With celebrity teachers, influential judges and a growing emphasis on education, there’s a lot more to consider than geographic proximity when selecting an event to attend.

Speaking of winning moments, we had an incredible time this summer with the more than 1,600 teachers who attended the Dance Teacher Summit. The lively conversations and sense of community were very much on our minds as we put this issue together. Want to continue the discussion? LIKE US! on Facebook and join the conversation as we share best practices and debate hot issues on the Dance Teacher discussion board.

Karen Hildebrand

editor in chief

News
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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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News
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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