Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie: What My Teacher Taught Me

Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie might be at the top of her game—she just received two Bessie Award nominations and her company makes its Jacob's Pillow debut next month—but she still suffers from self-doubt and perfectionism. When she began taking breaking classes from Robert "Break Easy" Santiago in Brooklyn, New York, she had to draw upon her self-confidence to successfully battle with other break dancers.

"When I was finally ready to start battling, Robert told me: 'The hardest battle will always be with yourself.' As artists, we're ripe with self-doubt, because creating and performing work is such a vulnerable thing. Robert helped me confront that vulnerability in a way that made it manageable. When you battle another dancer, it's all about reacting to that person. You have to have the confidence to say, 'Well, maybe I can't do that movement that she did, but whatever I'm doing is going to top that, because I know my own value. I can define my worth as a dancer.'"

Ephrat Asherie Dance performs at Jacob's Pillow Inside/Out series on August 7.

Photo by Christiana Marcelli

Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

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Teachers Trending

Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

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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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