News: The White House Dance Series Celebrates Jamison

“From ballet to Broadway to hip hop, today is a celebration of some of the most beautiful, powerful and emotional aspects of American dance,” said Michelle Obama at the Obama administration’s first celebration of dance in September.


The day-long event was directed by Damian Woetzel, former New York City Ballet principal, now a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. It included performances and 90-minutes of master classes for dance students from Ballet Hispanico, The Ailey School, National Dance Institute, The Washington School of Ballet, Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center, Interlochen Center for the Arts and other schools.


Nasha Thomas Schmitt, co-director of arts in education for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, began the day by teaching a warm-up and excerpts from Revelations. “Teaching in the White House was very exciting and a little daunting,” she says. “But these children were all dance students, so they had a knowledge of movement and I knew that they would be easy to work with.”


The First Lady paid tribute to Judith Jamison, who begins her final season as artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. “What brings us together today is the extraordinary career of an amazing, phenomenal, fly woman,” said Obama of Jamison. “For years I have gone to watch Judith’s company whenever and wherever I can. And I always try to bring these two women [my daughters] with me . . . because I want them to witness the grace and the beauty that stirs our souls and connects us to each other like nothing else can.”


Watch excerpts from The White House Dance Series’ master classes at


Photo: Michelle Obama and Judith Jamison (Kristin Colvin Young, courtesy of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater)

Leap! Executive Director Drew Vamosi (Courtesy Leap!)

Since its inaugural season in 2012, Leap! National Dance Competition has been all about the little things.

"I wanted to have a 'boutique' competition. One where we went out to only one city every weekend, so I could be there myself, and we could really get to know the teachers and watch their kids progress from year to year," says Leap! executive director Drew Vamosi. According to Vamosi, thoughtful details make all the difference, especially during a global pandemic that's thrown many dancers' typical comp-season schedules for a loop. That's why Leap! prides itself on features like its professional-quality set design, as well as its one-of-a-kind leaping competition, where dancers can show off their best tricks for special cash and merchandise prizes.

Keep reading... Show less
Health & Body
Getty Images

The term "body shaming" might bring up memories of that instructor from your own training who made critical remarks about—or even poked and prodded—dancers' bodies.

Thankfully, we're (mostly) past the days when authority figures felt free to openly mock a dancer's appearance. But body shaming remains a toxic presence in the studio, says Dr. Nadine Kaslow, psychologist for Atlanta Ballet: "It's just more hidden and more subtle." Here's how to make sure your teaching isn't part of the problem.

Keep reading... Show less
Courtesy Russell

Gregg Russell, an Emmy-nominated choreographer known for his passionate and energetic teaching, passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, November 22, at the age of 48.

While perhaps most revered as a master tap instructor and performer, Russell also frequently taught hip-hop and musical theater classes, showcasing a versatility that secured him a successful career onstage and in film and television, both nationally and abroad.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.