A New Breed

 I distinctly remember having a lively intermission conversation at a Youth America Grand Prix gala performance several years ago. We had just had our minds blown by a tiny dancer who performed with a technical ability far beyond his years. And he wasn’t the only one. Several child prodigies debuted that night in an astonishing display of flexibility, musicality and precision. The question several of us in the audience shared was, “Where do these dancers go from here?” When a child reaches the pinnacle of his/her ability before hitting puberty, what is left to aspire to?

Since that night, we’ve watched a generation of prodigies graduate from pre-professional training and land coveted company positions. In “Nurturing the Gift,” writer Caitlin Sims talks with their teachers about what it took to prepare these most gifted students for professional life.

Nick DeMoura (on the cover) is a prodigy of a different breed. A street dancer who hit Hollywood at an early age, he’s made a name for himself in the competitive pop music industry. In “On Top of the World,” he tells Alison Feller what it’s like to choreograph for stars like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande. And we love the images photographer Jino Abad took of DeMoura doing his thing in the studio. It’s clear to us that DeMoura is a big-picture thinker. Though he was extremely busy with preparation for the Ariana Grande tour, he arrived at our photo shoot with a complete vision of how he wanted to present himself—head to toe.

That’s the kind of mindset one needs for keeping goals and priorities in the forefront, while also balancing the many aspects of a busy life. Meditation is a proven tool that can help, and in “Finding Your Om,” we give you some quick tips on how to get started.

One of my favorite stories in this issue is “From “‘Ho Hum’ to ‘Aha’” about some surprising changes that worked out well for three studio owners. Maybe it’s time for you to consider a bold move. If you do, please write and tell me about it. khildebrand@dancemedia.com.

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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