Please Go Down This #FBF Rabbit Hole With Us

Sometimes life just drops gems into your lap, on an otherwise typical Friday—like the 1980s public access television show "Stairway to Stardom" and the font of video footage that is the stairwaytostardom YouTube channel. Founded by Brooklynite Frank Masi—an amateur singer and apparent proponent of local talent—"Stairway to Stardom" featured child and teen performers who sang, danced and even performed comedy acts. It's an earnest show, and we don't mean to disparage the performers, but it's definitely fun to take a trip back to the '80s and reminisce over costume choices (SO MANY SEQUINS), jazz layouts and 3-D bangs—all performed on the smallest of (carpeted) sound stages. Though many of these performers went on to pursue other life choices, occasionally you stumble upon someone you recognize, like Anthony (AC) Ciulla. He's an Emmy award-winning and Tony Award-nominated choreographer who definitely made it big, but that's not gonna stop us from watching his "What a Feeling" (from Flashdance) performance over and over again:

Again, there are many, many gems to see on this DIY talent show. (And if, like me, you quickly become obsessed, please check out this interview NPR did with big-time fan Mitch Friedman about the show.)

Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

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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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