Increasing Standards of Competition and the Rise of the Super-Dancer

On Wednesday night, So You Think You Can Dance returned after a two-week break and got right down to business. Four contestants instead of two were sent packing, suddenly leaving the season's top 10. (I'm pleased to note my original pick for winner, Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, is still in the running!) Now, we all know the show went on hiatus during the Olympics, so maybe they really did need to make up for lost time, but I bet the upped drama of dropping four dancers at once didn't hurt ratings one bit, either. 


Season 1 winner Nick Lazzarini admitted he was shocked by the quadruple cut, and brought up the fact that when the show first started, dancers weren't expected to be nearly as expertly versatile as they are today. It's clearly a whole new ballgame and becoming more extreme by the season.


The way I see it, this can pan out one of two ways: The expecations will become so extreme and the stakes so high that dancers will crumble under the pressure and the program will implode on itself or (and this is what I'm hoping) the bar will continue to rise ever so slightly with each new season, and, just as evolution will one day cause humans to be born with cell phones growing out of their skulls, SYTYCD will begin breeding mutant, super-human dancers who will dominate all forms of choreography—from Kathak to krumping—and eventually take over the world. Much better than a zombie apocalypse, I think. And better for ratings.



Photo courtesty of FOX



Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

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Teaching Tips
Justin Boccitto teaches a hybrid class. Photo courtesy Boccitto

Just as teachers were getting comfortable with teaching virtual classes, many studios are adding an extra challenge into the mix: in-person students learning alongside virtual students. Such hybrid classes are meant to keep class sizes down and to give students options to take class however they're comfortable.

But dividing your attention between virtual students and masked and socially distant in-person students—and giving them each a class that meets their needs—is no easy feat.

Dance Teacher asked four teachers what they've learned so far.

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Teachers Trending
All photos by Ryan Heffington

"Annnnnnnd—we're back!"

Ryan Heffington is kneeling in front of his iPhone, looking directly into the camera, smiling behind his bushy mustache. He's in his house in the desert near Joshua Tree, California, phone propped on the floor so it stays steady, his bright shorty shorts, tank top and multiple necklaces in full view. Music is already playing—imagine you're at a club—and soon he's swaying and bouncing from side to side, the beat infusing his bones.

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