Joffrey Ballet School's Davis Robertson: What My Teacher Taught Me

While imagery often helps dancers attain a shape or understand a concept, the type of imagery used can vary widely from teacher to teacher. During his training with Chicago-based ballet teacher Larry Long, former Joffrey Ballet principal Davis Robertson learned to equate ballet technique with food.

"Every correction he ever gave was related to food. He'd say, 'Turn out, like you're peeling an avocado. Beat your legs like you're chopping onions.' He loved to cook. I would be ravenous in ballet class! But it worked. Petit allegro was something I initially struggled with, and thanks to Larry--who had the most extraordinary petit allegro--it ultimately became one of my favorite things."

Joffrey Ballet School students from the children's and young dancers programs, as well as guests from the Joffrey Concert Group, will present The Nutcracker in New York, December 13-15.

Photos courtesy of Joffrey Ballet School

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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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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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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