Fringe, Flair and Fox-trots: The Season Finale of "Dancing with the Stars"

The champions: Davis and Chmerkovskiy

It was a night of champions and confessions: Ice dance Olympic gold winner Meryl Davis and ballroom pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy took home the mirror ball trophy (Chmerkovskiy’s first in his 14 seasons!) on last night’s season finale of “Dancing with the Stars.” Davis and Chmerkovskiy looked just as cuddly as they have all season, and Chmerkovskiy went so far as to slyly joke that he wanted to have “big, ice-dancing babies” with her. (They’ve gotta be together. Right?) And head judge Len Goodman made some news of his own, announcing that this season of "DWTS" might have been his last. (Though he did say it was a good season to go out on, with Davis and Chmerkovskiy the winners.)

Paralympian (and double amputee) Amy Purdy and Derek Hough took home second place, and injury- and nerves-plagued Candace Cameron Bure (of “Full House” fame) and Mark Ballas took home third. Bure had struggled with performance jitters throughout the entire season—at one point consulting a sports psychologist—and Ballas seriously injured his shoulder during a lift in a finale rehearsal.

Each of the three final couples had the makings of a winner: Davis and Chmerkovskiy had undeniable chemistry in their fox-trot/cha-cha fusion; Purdy and Hough made everyone forget Purdy has two prosthetic legs with their cha-cha/Argentine tango fusion; and Bure and Ballas’ quickstep/samba fusion highlighted Bure’s winning personality and genuine charm.

So what do you think of the results? Did the couple you were rooting for take home the trophy?

Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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Teaching Tips
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After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy TUPAC

When legendary Black ballet dancer Kabby Mitchell III died unexpectedly in 2017, two months before opening his Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center, his friend and business partner Klair Ethridge wasn't sure she had what it took to carry his legacy. Ethridge had been working with Mitchell to co-found TUPAC and planned to serve as its executive director, but she had never envisioned being the face of the school.

Now, Ethridge is heading into her fourth year of leading TUPAC, which she has grown from a fledgling program in an unheated building to a serious ballet school in its own sprung-floor studios, reaching hundreds of students across the Tacoma, Washington, area. The nonprofit has become a case study for what it looks like to carry out the vision of a founder who never had the chance to see his school open—and to take an unapologetically mission-driven approach.

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