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.
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.
The Luminaries' "One"<p>"This whole album is conscious, inspiring music. I recommend The Luminaries for tap because it provides a message as well as music. It's something different, and most people would never consider tap dancing to music such as theirs."</p>
Jason Yudoff's "Tragic Hero"<p>"Yudoff has quite a number of instrumental pieces, classified as funk. He often uses alternative time signatures, which are great for tap dancers to get used to. Highlights on this album include 'Good Enough,' 'Get Up,' 'Room to Breathe' and 'Locked In the Box.'"</p>
Jason Mraz's "Love Is a Four Letter Word"<p>"Mraz is one of my favorites to tap to not only for the message he brings, but he is a great musician and also uses alternative time signatures often, specifically songs '5/6' and 'Everything Is Sound.'"</p>
Frank Persico's "Salutations from Ozone Park"<p>"I enjoy Persico's music because we have similar life experiences and I can relate well to it. He brings a swing that I think is important for tap dancing. Highlights for tap dancers include 'When Love Was Blind,' 'Eyes' and 'Funny Little Way.'"</p>
A Louis Prima playlist on Spotify<p>"Introduced to me by my grandfather, Louis Prima is one of my all-time favorite artists for tap. His music always seems so joyous and has that big-band swing flair that I want to bring to my classes and performances. The album I loved isn't on Spotify, but <a href="https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2aTg3V7ijqIpW7JV7JpFvX" target="_blank">this playlist</a> is dedicated to that album and includes more of his music."</p>
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.
Courtesy Lovely Leaps