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Last-Minute Gift-Giving Inspiration for Dancers of All Ages

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Whether you're still wrapping up holiday shopping for the dance lovers in your life or have that family member who keeps asking what you want this year, a unique, dancey gift is always a winner. Dance Teacher rounded up eight ideas for dancers of all ages—many of which serve the dual purpose of supporting the dance community during this difficult time. (Bonus: Many are just a few clicks away!)


For the holiday-show goer: access to a virtual performance

For Nutcracker devotees who are missing their in-person pilgrimage this year, give the gift of watching a holiday production from home. One fun non-Nutcracker option: ODC/Dance's long-standing Velveteen Rabbit, a festive, clever take on the classic children's book. Buy a ticket and your giftee will be able to screen it on demand, and consider opting for fun add-ons, including an activity book and virtual dance lessons to learn some of the choreography.

If you choose to stick to the classic Nutcracker, many companies (like Atlanta Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet and San Francisco Ballet) are offering ticketed streaming of their productions too.

For dancers ages 3 to 13: a Zoom dance party

If your dance student is missing friends, classmates and cousins during this strange holiday season, treat them to a Zoom dance party. Hire a local teacher to lead a special session for your group.

For the young ballet student: new picture books

2020 was a banner year for new picture books on dance, including Misty Copeland's latest Bunheads and American Ballet Theatre's Boys Dance, by John Robert Altman.

For teens serious about their training: a private coaching session

A private lesson or coaching session can provide valuable feedback for serious students who may feel isolated or uninspired this winter. Many teaching artists are happy to take on extra work right now—it's possible you'll even be able to book your dancer's favorite master teacher.

For the college dance major: a winter intensive

Winter intensives are always a savvy way for college dancers to spend their breaks, but this year they may be more beneficial than ever, since many fall semesters were cut short. American Dance Festival's winter program is a solid option, running virtually January 4 to 8, with teaching artists Leah Cox, Marguerite Hemmings, Jessie Young and Jesse Zaritt. Or for a more specialized option, the Martha Graham School and the Paul Taylor American Modern Dance are both holding virtual winter intensives as well.

For choreographers and teachers: music made for dance

Dance artists are always seeking out new, dance-friendly music, whether for choreographic projects or upcoming classes. Give the choreographer or teacher in your life the gift of music written specifically for dance, like that of Michael Wall, who offers dance artists three levels of membership. Level 1 membership at $5 a month gets your giftee one free track download per month, plus 50 percent off all music on Wall's site, access to new music and special resources on music and dance.

For the recent college graduate: Dance/USA membership

Dance/USA is the national service organization supporting the field with job postings, research and an annual conference. Right now, membership is only $25 to gain access right away—which will be useful for recent grads entering a particularly precarious dance workforce.

For dance lovers of all ages: apparel from their favorite company

Dancers love to sport merch that shows their love for their favorite dance organizations. Odds are, the company, school, festival or cause close to their hearts sells some fashionable tees, tanks and sweats. Check out Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Brown Girls Do Ballet, LINES Ballet and many others.

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Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

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Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

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"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

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Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

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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.

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