Freddie Franklin, you will be missed.

On Saturday, Frederic Franklin passed away at age 98. The former Ballet Russe ballet master graced the cover of DT as our Lifetime Achievement Award winner in 2007. He shared his memories of working with Bronislava Nijinsky ("She was terrifying" at first), his 20-year partnership with Russian prima Alexandra Danilova and learning Balanchine choreography for the first time as a member of Ballet Russe. "It was very peculiar for us because with [Ballet Russe director Leonide] Massine you did ballets in which you represented something," he recalled. "Before Mr. Balanchine, we never danced classical ballet where no one was anything."

Most poignantly, perhaps, he told us how healthy and satisfied he felt at the impressive age of 93. At the time, he was still be performing with American Ballet Theatre and the Metropolitan Opera. “I’ve never been thwarted as far as being what I am. I was a dancer, I’ve taken care of myself. As Madame Danilova used to say, ‘I have been in for repairs.’ I’ve had a triple bypass, I’ve had a few hernias. And here I am. I eat well and I have a glass of wine every night. I’m walking around and feeling fine,” he said. "When I think of the lovely career I’ve had and that I’m now dancing with one of the world’s greatest companies, I think that is really something.”

Photo by Eduardo Patino

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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