Here’s to Your Health

It was a fun moment at our Dance Teacher Summit when Stacey Tookey stopped teaching mid-sentence to greet her 6-month-old daughter who had just entered the room in the arms of Tookey's husband. "Hi Harper!" she said brightly. Then without skipping a beat, she returned to teaching, while her family watched from the sidelines. It seemed the most natural thing in the world that they were traveling with her for this weekend convention. Her work life and home life were perfectly integrated.

Thank goodness having a baby no longer means giving up your career. It does mean giving up your perfect dancer body, at least temporarily. “Your ligaments get looser," as Dr. Bridget Quinn of Boston Ballet told Dance Magazine. “Your center of gravity changes. You become short of breath more easily. It's a lot for a dancer. But with diligent training, you can prepare for both a healthy labor and a quick recovery." In our Special Health and Wellness Section (“Supporting the Pregnant Dancer"), we share some useful advice for doing just that.

Pregnancy isn't the only thing that can shift your center of gravity. When Paula Frasz broke her leg (“How Injury Changed the Way I Teach"), she had to completely rethink her teaching strategy. The silver lining? She became a better teacher. And what if it's your student who becomes injured? They may think they're ready to return to class, but it's up to you to keep them safe. In “Bouncing Back," our experts outline the careful steps back to full class participation and point out some red flags that might interfere.

It seems more dancers than ever are becoming certified to teach Pilates and yoga. Such skills can complement a performance career, both financially and in physical practice. In “More Than a Backup Plan," we tell you where to get this training right alongside your college dance degree. Might be just what a reluctant parent needs, to finally say yes to majoring in dance.

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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Music
Mary Mallaney/USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, courtesy Osato

In most classes, dancers are encouraged to count the music, and dance with it—emphasizing accents and letting the rhythm of a song guide them.

But Marissa Osato likes to give her students an unexpected challenge: to resist hitting the beats.

In her contemporary class at EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles (which is now closed, until they find a new space), she would often play heavy trap music. She'd encourage her students to find the contrast by moving in slow, fluid, circular patterns, daring them to explore the unobvious interpretation of the steady rhythms.

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