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

Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

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Dancer Diary
Claire, McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

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Music
Mary Mallaney/USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, courtesy Osato

In most classes, dancers are encouraged to count the music, and dance with it—emphasizing accents and letting the rhythm of a song guide them.

But Marissa Osato likes to give her students an unexpected challenge: to resist hitting the beats.

In her contemporary class at EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles (which is now closed, until they find a new space), she would often play heavy trap music. She'd encourage her students to find the contrast by moving in slow, fluid, circular patterns, daring them to explore the unobvious interpretation of the steady rhythms.

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