Final Chapter of Bill T. Jones' Chapel/Chapter

Last year in Boston, I had the opportunity to be a part of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company’s production of Chapel/Chapter, performed at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Chapel/Chapter is a gripping multimedia performance that questions how we evaluate and judge devastating and violent events. In Boston, the Company wanted to include local dancers, and as a Boston Conservatory dance student only a subway ride away, I gladly volunteered. In the performance I acted as a guide for sightless dancers, I shouted answers in a mock game-show, and howled into the audience before reciting a final prayer.  

This past weekend, the Company presented the final performances of Chapel/Chapter at the Harlem Gatehouse in New York, where it premiered in 2006. This time though, I was part of the audience. Though this performance (different because of new casting) was compelling, breath-taking and chillingly beautiful, it was hard for me not to miss the cast of which I had been (however briefly) a part.

It is the impermanence of performance that I love most about dance—how everything hangs on the precise moment, and how an artist can bring new insights and interpretations to each movement. Two dancers can perform the same steps with the same qualities and effort, yet their movement will always be noticeably and gloriously different.

What happened on the Gatehouse in 2006, or even at the ICA last year can never be reproduced; I applaud the dancers for sharing new expressions of Mr. Jones’ masterpiece.  They took risks and new approaches to their characters that replicated, but did not impersonate the previous shows.  

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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