Is Dance Being Evicted from Manhattan?

Diana Byer with Ballet School NY student Victor Rosario

In a 2012 DT Technique column, New York Theatre Ballet artistic director Diana Byer shared her approach to teaching the Cecchetti method and impressed us with her adorable and talented young students. Recently, she’s announced that NYTB and its school are in trouble. The organization is losing its home in Manhattan's Murray Hill neighborhood after 34 years there. "We're in a crisis," she said in a statement. "I don't know if we're in danger of closing. I'm just reaching out to everybody to see what will come about." NYTB occupies space on the fifth floor of the historic parish house of a Baptist church, which has been sold and, according to The Huffington Post, will soon be demolished.

This news, piled on top of nonprofit studio Dance New Amsterdam’s climaxing struggles with debt and eviction, points to an alarming trend of flailing New York City dance institutions. What can we as dance lovers do to help? Keep taking classes! That’s a win-win way to support your local studios, you can also make donations. DNA has been lucky enough to have generous contributors provide thousands of dollars to cover legal costs. Byer is hoping for a similar miracle for her company.

Diana Byer with NYTB principal dancer Elena Zahlmann and Ballet School NY students Izzy Hanson-Johnston and Victor Rosario

Photos by Matthew Murphy at Ballet School NY

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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Teachers Trending
Courtesy Lovely Leaps

After the birth of her daughter in 2018, engineer Lisa McCabe had reservations about returning to the workforce full-time. And while she wanted to stay home with the new baby, she wasn't ready to stop contributing financially to her family (after all, she'd had a successful career designing cables for government drones). So, when she got a call that September from an area preschool to lead its dance program, she saw an opportunity.

The invitation to teach wasn't completely out of the blue. McCabe had grown up dancing in Southern California and had a great reputation from serving as her church's dance teacher and team coach the previous three years (stopping only to take a break as a new mother). She agreed to teach ballet and jazz at the preschool on Fridays and from there created an age-appropriate class based on her own training in the Cecchetti and RAD methods. It was a success: In three months, class enrollment went from six to 24 students, and just one year later, McCabe's blossoming Lovely Leaps brand had contracts with eight preschools and three additional teachers.

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News
Courtesy Shake the Ground

Dance competitions were among the first events to be shut down when the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in the U.S. in mid-March, and they've been among the last able to restart.

So much of the traditional structure of the competition—large groups of dancers and parents from dozens of different studios; a new city every week—simply won't work in our new pandemic world.

How, then, have competitions been getting by, and what does the future look like?

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