Happy Birthday, BDC!

Salim "Slam" Gauwloos' contemporary class at BDC

In 1984, Richard Ellner--a late-bloomer to the dance world, who took his first dance class at age 52--took over the Hines-Hatchett studio founded by Maurice Hines and the late Frank Hatchett (DT 2013 lifetime achievement awardee), renaming it Broadway Dance Center. Thirty years and two relocations later, BDC is a second home for many New York City dancers, with its ever-growing roster of the industry's top teachers in everything from jazz (Hatchett's specialty) to hip hop to contemporary to ballet.

The late, great Frank Hatchett

BDC wouldn't think of letting such a milestone go by without a suitable celebration: On May 5, friends and family will gather in the stately Altman Building in the heart of Chelsea. The gala will include pop-up performances, tribute videos and, of course, a chance to get down on the dance floor.

The original BDC studios in midtown

This anniversary gathering comes right on the heels of BDC's April 1 tribute to VOP jazz king Frank Hatchett at Symphony Space. Hatchett's students and friends were invited to submit one-minute videos of their favorite memories or sayings of Hatchett, or even short dance tributes, which were shown at the celebration.

 

Top left photo by Sandy Shelton; all courtesy of BDC

News
Layeelah Muhammad, courtesy DAYPC

This summer's outcry to fully see and celebrate Black lives was a wake-up call to dance organizations.

And while many dance education programs are newly inspired to incorporate social justice into their curriculums, four in the San Francisco Bay area have been elevating marginalized youth and focusing on social change for decades.

GIRLFLY, Grrrl Brigade, The Alphabet Rockers and Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company fuse dance with education around race, gender, climate change and more, empowering young artists to become leaders in their communities. Here's how they do it.

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Teacher Voices
Getty Images

I often teach ballet over Zoom in the evenings, shortly after sunset. Without the natural light coming from my living room window, I drag a table lamp next to my portable barre so that the computer's camera can see me clearly enough. I prop the laptop on a chair taken from the kitchen and then spend the next few hours running back and forth between the computer screen of Zoom tiles and my makeshift dance floor.

Much of this setup is the result of my attempts to recreate the most important aspects of an in-person dance studio: I have a barre, a floor and as much space as I can reasonably give myself within a small apartment. I do not, however, have a mirror, and neither do most of my students.

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Music
Allie Burke, courtesy Lo Cascio

If you'd hear it on the radio, you won't hear it in Anthony Lo Cascio's tap classes.

"If I play a song that my kids know, I'm kind of disappointed in myself," he says. "I either want to be on the cutting edge or playing the classics."

He finds that most of today's trendy tracks lack the depth needed for tap, and that there's a disconnect between kids and popular music. "They have trouble finding the beat compared to older genres," he says.

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