News: China-bound

Lula Washington Dance Theatre wastes no time moving from one international adventure to the next. In December 2010, the Los Angeles–based modern dance company returned from a one-month stint touring rural Russia and almost immediately started gearing up for round two, to China, from May 21 to June 13. The United States Department of State awarded a $116,000 grant to support the 24-day tour for a dozen dancers. But unlike the Russian tour, which focused almost entirely on performance (including 18 concerts), this trip will be dedicated to both performance and educational outreach, including a residency at Sias International University in China’s Henan Province.


Sias is the first solely American-owned university in central China, and Lula Washington and her dancers will be in residence for over a week. “We really want this to be a cultural exchange,” she says. “We’ll be performing, teaching and sharing our style with their dancers, and we’ll have the opportunity to learn more about Chinese culture.”


Aside from the university, the company will be committed to educational outreach in each rural province that they visit. “When we do outreach in the United States, we talk to students about African-American history and culture and our performances have Q&A sessions,” says Washington. “It’s going to be no different abroad.” She hopes to share with the Chinese people a style and culture that they may not have otherwise experienced. “I’m going to go in with an open mind and work with whoever is receptive to learning from us, whether they’re 92 or 2,” she says.

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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Dancer Diary
Claire McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

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