Performance Planner: Summertime in the Wintertime

It's only January. As an east-coaster I have three more months of winter to endure, and I can't seem to stop fantasizing about sunglasses, warm breezes and sand beneath my toes. If only I lived in Southern California.

 

If you haven't decided on a theme for your spring piece, a summer-themed routine may help keep you and your students amped through the dull, freezing winter. But whether you're planning a show or you just need a quick break from the snow, here are some suggestions to bring the sunshine to the studio:

  • * Try a lyrical combination to The Mamas and The Papas' "California Dreamin'" in your advanced contemporary class.
  • * “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,” Brian Hyland is the perfect song for your tiny tappers.
  • * Teen dancers will love warming up to Jason Mraz's "Summer Breeze" during pre-class stretches.
  • * What summer-themed recital would be complete without The Beach Boys' "Surfin' U.S.A?"

For more California-inspired ideas from Lauren Green, click here.

 

Photo:  In 1973, Twyla Tharp created her first crossover ballet: Deuce Coupe. Set to music by the Beach Boys, the work premiered February 8—smack in the middle of a numbingly cold Chicago winter. Though it was choreographed for the Joffery Ballet, Tharp's modern company dancers performed onstage alongside Joffrey dancers.

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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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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