It’s Never Too Late

I think we’re all painfully aware that the number of talented dance students exceeds the professional opportunities that will be open to them as adults. But as many dance teachers point out, a professional career isn’t always the goal. Dance is a character-building activity that prepares a young person for a fulfilling life no matter what they choose to do.

We heartily agree. All of us who grew up dancing have a soft spot in our hearts for it—even if we’re now lawyers and engineers (or editors). That’s why it pleased us so much to learn about DanceWorks, started by Lisa Mara to give adults a chance to perform—especially in New York City, where it’s tough to even find a true beginner-level dance class. In “Reigniting a Passion,” Karen Campbell tells the story of 150 people who leave their desk jobs at 5 pm only to spend the rest of their evening rehearsing for their next show—all for the pure enjoyment of it.

Adult students are a growing population—and by serving them you could be opening a new revenue stream for your studio. Dance fitness, somatics and ballroom classes are all great options for adults. But many want to take hard-core technique class. And teaching them requires a different approach. Take pointe class, for instance. In "On Pointe at Any Age," dancer Julie Diana has tips on how to help your adult students achieve their goals.

If we were to rank our Dance Teacher cover subjects according to their affability, it would be a tough job. We get to work with the smartest, most earnest and truly big-hearted people in the dance field. But Jared Grimes would have to be near the top of the list. Grimes is inspirational not only for his mad tap feet—during our photo shoot, he literally could not stop dancing—but for his persistence. No one has worked harder for recognition, and he’s finally getting what he deserves. The best male dancer in a Broadway musical (per the Fred and Adele Astaire Award 2014 panel) is now starring in the new Radio City New York Spring Spectacular. Candice Thompson has the story, and dance-teacher.com has the moves (step-by-step video with Grimes).

Don’t forget, National Dance Week is April 24–May 3. Our friend Gregg Russell is teaching the official flash mob routine this year. Check it out at nationaldanceweek.org.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Teachers Trending
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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Teachers Trending

Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"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."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

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Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

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.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

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