Looking Forward to the Return of SYTYCD

In her 1963 The Book of the Dance, Agnes de Mille writes, “Art is communication on the deepest and most lasting level.” She continues, “Before man can do anything, he must draw breath, he must move. Movement is the source and condition of life.” In essence, true dance is serious; it means something. It doesn’t have to be emotional or upsetting, but it has to have a point. Even if the point is not to have a point, dance has to evoke some kind of reaction from an audience. Because who wants to just watch people flail about—regardless of perfect shapes or techniques—meaninglessly? Certainly not Ms. de Mille.
    So as we eagerly anticipate the return of Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance (which begins again tonight, September 9, at 8p.m), let’s hope that this time around (after the countless audition shows) we’ll not only see great technicians, but great dance. And I’m not talking about emotionally charged pieces with over-the-top, fake, distressed facial expressions. Viewers deserve to see the quality of dance where the meaning comes from the movement itself; dance on a level at which audience members feel the movement within their own cores because of a dancer’s artistry—not only because of his/her virtuosity or representational skills. And this show has all the right ingredients to make it happen. The dancers are amazing, no doubt about that one, and the choreographers are more than capable. However, if art is an expression on the deepest, most lasting level, and if movement is the source of life, I hope this season we will experience pieces that communicate something more than “hot.”

Teachers Trending
Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy. Photo courtesy Dance With Me

Listening to Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy riff together makes it crystal-clear why each has mastered the art of partnering in the ballroom—they've long been doing this dance in real life as brothers and business partners.

Along with their "Dancing with the Stars" pedigree (and a combined three mirror-ball trophies between them), Maks and Val (and their father, Sasha) also run Dance With Me, a dance company hosting six ProAm Dancesport competitions annually and running 14 brick-and-mortar studio locations across the U.S.

Last year, the pair launched an online component, Dance & Co. The online video platform offers beginner through advanced instruction in not only ballroom but an array of other styles, as well as dance fitness classes from HIIT to yoga to strength training. "DWTS" fans will recognize such familiar faces as Peta Murgatroyd, Jenna Johnson, Sharna Burgess and Emma Slater, along with Maks and Val themselves.

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Teaching Tips
@jayplayimagery, courtesy Kerollis

In the spring of 2012, Barry Kerollis was abruptly forced into treating his career as a small business. Having just moved cross-country to join BalletX, he got injured and was soon let go.

"I'd only ever danced with big companies before," the now-freelance dance-teacher-choreographer-podcaster recalls. "That desperation factor drove me to approach freelancing with a business model and a business plan."

As Kerollis acknowledges, getting the business of you off the ground ("you" as a freelance dance educator, that is) can be filled with unexpected challenges—even for the most seasoned of gigging dancers. But becoming your own CEO can make your work–life balance more sustainable, help you make more money, keep you organized, and get potential employers to offer you more respect and improved working conditions. Here's how to get smart now about branding, finances and other crucial ways to tell the dance world that you mean business.

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Teachers Trending
Courtesy Oleson

American dance educator Shannon Oleson was teaching recreational ballet and street-dance classes in London when the pandemic hit. As she watched many of her fellow U.S. friends pack up and return home from their international adventures, she made the difficult choice to stick with her students (as well as her own training—she was midway through her MFA at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance).

Despite shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders, she was able to maintain a teaching schedule that kept her working with her dancers through Zoom, as well as lead some private, in-home acro classes following government guidelines. But keeping rec students interested in the face of pandemic fatigue hasn't been easy.

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