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Watch Two NYCB Dancers Teaching at the NYCDA Scholarship Auditions

Last week at The New York City Dance Alliance Finals, former New York City Ballet soloist Kurt Froman and Andy Veyette, a current NYCB principal, led classes at the Outstanding Dancer scholarship auditions.

Although seasoned professionals, they both admit that teaching at a convention can be overwhelming.


"It was a very new experience to be holding a microphone while teaching," says Veyette, who regularly teaches at the School of American Ballet. "I told my students I felt like I was a game-show host."

Unlike a regular class with ballet barres, mirrors and sprung marley floors, Froman tailors a convention class by using chairs for stability and quickly moving to center work.

"All of these factors can be a bit disorienting to students who aren't used to dancing at conventions," says Froman, "so I try to emphasize core-muscle engagement as well as really holding their back muscles. This can help correct any swayback posture problems and give them a bit more control over their bodies for center work."


"Conventions are a wonderful setup for me to pass on information to big groups of kids who I typically wouldn't encounter in my classes at Steps," says Froman, who's now known for grooming Hollywood actresses to play ballerinas on screen, like Jennifer Lawrence and Natalie Portman.

"In my experience as a dancer and a teacher, dancing well is about being efficient," says Veyette. "Oftentimes we simply get in our own way. In this way teaching in a convention setting doesn't change too much. However, it was a bit daunting looking out at such a large group of dancers," he says. "But I can't say enough about how hard the students of NYCDA worked for me in my brief time with them."

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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Teaching Tips
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After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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