Teacher Voices

How COVID-19 Has Changed Dance Studios for the Better

Photo courtesy Rhee Gold Company

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, there has been a shift in our community that is so impressive that the impact could last long into our future. Although required school closures have hit the dance education field hard, what if, when looking back on this time, we see that it's been an incredible renaissance for dance educators, studio owners and the young dancers in our charge?

How could that be, you ask?

Teachers in the same town, who had previously made a choice to avoid each other, are working together. They share survival tips, strategize their openings and, most important, they support each other. Discovering that we need each other is bringing us together, and it is happening in small towns and big cities across the country.

We are not spending our weekends in auditoriums being compared to one another, and neither are our dancers. That is not to say that we do not grow and learn from the competitive experience—it has fueled the quality dance education that we all have experienced for the last couple of decades. This time has shined a light on the value of respect for everyone who shares our passion, even if they are our competitors.

Students and their families are seeing dance teachers in a new light. Teachers who were unable to go to the studio have brought movement to thousands of young children in every way possible—virtually, in parking lots and outdoor parks, and the list goes on. Those kids have a new appreciation for their teachers; they see their strength and look to them as mentors and leaders, not simply as the person whose job it is to make them great technicians.

Dance teachers have acquired a new confidence! Although it was not by choice, they are no longer technically challenged when it comes to new software to keep their classes going. Many have let go of their inhibitions to become storytellers: motivational speakers who can deliver a sense of support to the families of their dancers. There is a new understanding that teaching dance is about more than the steps.

Together we can be the best we can be by continuing to support each other, and sharing our knowledge and experience. As we lift each other up, we can explore new perspectives for teaching, business and our mutual love for the art.

Teachers Trending
Evelyn Cisneros-Legate. Photo by Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West

Evelyn Cisneros-Legate is bringing her hard-earned expertise to Ballet West. The former San Francisco Ballet star is taking over all four campuses of The Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy as the school's new director.

Cisneros-Legate, whose mother put her in ballet classes in an attempt to help her overcome her shyness, trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and School of American Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet as a full company member in 1977. She danced with the company for 23 years, breaking barriers as the first Mexican American to become a principal dancer in the U.S., and has graced the cover of Dance Magazine no fewer than three times.

As an educator, Cisneros-Legate has served as ballet coordinator at San Francisco Ballet, principal of Boston Ballet School's North Shore Studio and artistic director of after-school programming at the National Dance Institute (NDI). Dance Teacher spoke with her about her new position, her plans for the academy and leading in the time of COVID-19.

Keep reading... Show less
The author with Maurice Hines. Photo by Anthony R. Phillips, courtesy Hopkins

In March, prior to sheltering in place due to the coronavirus outbreak, my husband and I traveled from New York City to Miami to screen our award-winning documentary, Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back, at the Miami Film Festival.

Our star, Tony Award–nominated dancer and choreographer Maurice Hines joined us in Miami for the festival—stepping and repeating on the opening night red carpet, sharing anecdotes from his illustrious seven-decade career with local tap students, and holding court at a cocktail mixer with lively female fans.

Keep reading... Show less
Haruko Photography, courtesy ABT

Gabe Stone Shayer may be American Ballet Theatre's newest soloist, but he never dreamed he'd be dancing with the company at all. Though he grew up in Philadelphia, his sights were always set on international ventures—especially The Bolshoi Ballet and The Royal Ballet.

Even in his early training, he was learning from Russian educators: Alexander Boitsov at Gwendolyn Bye Dance Center, and Alexei and Natalia Cherov, from the Koresh School of Dance. At age 13, he transferred to The Rock School for Dance Education, where he danced until his acceptance to The Bolshoi Ballet Academy at age 14. At 16, Shayer returned to spend his summer in the States and attended ABT's summer intensive—fully intent on going back to Bolshoi to continue his training in the fall. Four weeks in, he was offered a studio-company contract. "I was so surprised," Shayer says. "Having come of age in Russia, I was very Eurocentric. Of course ABT was on my radar, I just never imagined it was for me."

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.