Film Will Show Your Friends Why You’re So Busy During Nutcracker Season

A movie about Nutcracker could easily be a bumbling comedy or worse—a horror flick. As studio owners everywhere know, staging the holiday classic, for all its charm and tradition, presents an enormous undertaking that requires students, parents and staff to work together for the good of the ballet. (How many dance dads does it take to screw in a Christmas tree lightbulb?)

But the award-winning documentary Getting to the Nutcracker focuses on the part of tackling the notorious Nut that makes it all worth it: the passion and dedication of dancers and teachers. The film follows the creation of the ballet at the Marat Daukayev School of Ballet in Los Angeles, from auditions and castings through rehearsals and performance. Directed by Serene Meshel-Dillman (a former School of American Ballet student), the film also profiles dancers, ages 3 to 18, offering viewers a glimpse at the joys and sacrifices of pursuing a dance career.

And though it may not highlight the chaos and behind-the-scenes hijinks inherent in putting on this (or any) ballet, it still illustrates the point that Sugarplum season is no trivial occasion.

Getting to the Nutcracker is showing in select theaters this month. It will also be available on VOD and iTunes December 2.

Photo courtesy of Getting to the Nutcracker

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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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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