Using Demonstrators for Your Rectial

Photo courtesy of Tori Rogoski


There Are Two Camps:

Put them onstage Small, short, sharp. Those are the qualities Danie Beck of Dance Unlimited in Miami looks for in her competitive dancers when choosing leaders for her tots' recital numbers. The studio pays for the leaders' costumes—which match the tiny dancers', so the leaders don't stand out—and the leaders get to keep them. Leaders start attending the minis' classes in mid-April and must be present for that class' auditorium rehearsals, too. "The leaders love being chosen—it's considered an honor," says Beck. "Best of all, the younger ones actually perform their routines! No one just stands there and cries."

Hide them in the wings Demonstrators for Dance Connection in Islip, New York, stand in the first two wings, near the front of the wing space, so the first line of onstage dancers falls behind them. "It makes it much more about the kids to have the demonstrators off the stage," say owners Joe and Mary Naftal.

Tip: Tori Rogoski of Dance Education Center in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, has her demonstrators dance onstage with the little ones. They coordinate their outfits to the class costume with the help of a gift certificate from her studio's apparel store.

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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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 onstageblog.com, 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
Getty Images

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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