Nobody Puts Swayze in the Corner

Everyone here at Dance Teacher was extremely saddened to hear that actor and dancer Patrick Swayze was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Movie buffs will recall Swayze’s roles in favorites such as Ghost, Road House and To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (in which he played a woman.) But dance aficionados everywhere know him best as Johnny Castle in the beloved 80s hit, Dirty Dancing and later his Chippendale-inspired dance off with Chris Farley on “Saturday Night Live.” The actor didn’t have to look far to develop his love of dance, his mother, Patsy, owned and taught at her own dance school. Swayze went on to train at the Harkness School and the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City.

 

Many DT staffers had the pleasure of meeting the actor in person, when he made a surprise appearance at our 2005 Summer Conference. “I spent a lot of time at dance conventions,” Swayze said at the event. “Being at this conference feels just like being back home.” He generously stayed for more than four hours to talk with and sign autographs for each and every excited fan who lined up to meet him.

 

Swayze is still inspiring many by continuing to work through his treatment. Our prayers and thoughts are with him during this difficult time.

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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