Seen and Heard At the Dance Teacher Summit: Bonnie Schuetz

Today we're featuring DT Summit ambassador Bonnie Schuetz, who has owned Boni's Dance & Performing Arts Studio in The Woodlands and Spring, Texas, for more than 30 years. We spoke to her about keeping her dancers healthy during performance season and asked her to reflect on her first year as an ambassador.

Boni’s Dance & Performing Arts Studio

Number of students: 1,600

Boni's Dance & Performing Arts students in The Nutcracker

Dance Teacher: Your company students perform over 12 times per year—at competitions, community shows, recitals and The Nutcracker. How do you make sure that they aren’t overdoing it as they prepare for these performances?

Bonnie Schuetz: We really try not to push our kids. I monitor them as much as possible. During Nutcracker season, I don’t like them to have competition solo or duet rehearsals on weekends. In fact, I don’t allow them at all on Sundays, which is the day of our Nutcracker rehearsals. We want the dancers to have lives, to be kids and teenagers, to go to homecoming, etc. It makes us a much happier family.

And when they are injured, I make sure that they’re not trying to dance. If their doctor’s note says six weeks off, they’re going to be off for six weeks. Their bones are soft, and they’ve got to rest. We’re really careful.

DT: 2011 was your first year as a Dance Teacher Summit ambassador. What was it like?

BS: In previous years, I just had so much in my brain that I wanted to share. This year, I was thrilled that I got an opportunity to do that. I’ve been a teacher for over 40 years and had my studio for more than 30, but I still learn something every time I go to the Summit. I think my favorite thing is just to sit around that round table and talk.

DT: What was the main message of the seminar that you ran, “Pre-School Ideas”?

BS: Adding programming for preschoolers can really be the bread and butter of your business. Studio owners love teaching, but they have to remember that it is also a business. For some reason people think that dance teachers aren’t supposed to make any money. Most of us would just do this from the bottom of our hearts—and I did that for years—but we can also be successful businesspeople if we think outside of the box. The best way to make money is to take advantage of your existing clientele. They’re already in your building, so just sell them something else. —Rachel Zar

Photos from top: courtesy of Bonnie Schuetz; by Brenda Bolton, courtesy of Bonnie Schuetz

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Cynthia Oliver in her office. Photo by Natalie Fiol

When it comes to Cynthia Oliver's classes, you always bring your A game. (As her student for the last two and a half years in the MFA program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I feel uniquely equipped to make this statement.) You never skip the reading she assigns; you turn in not your first draft but your third or fourth for her end-of-semester research paper; and you always do the final combination of her technique class full-out, even if you're exhausted.

Oliver's arrival at UIUC 20 years ago jolted new life into the dance department. "It may seem odd to think of this now, but the whole concept of an artist-scholar was new when she first arrived," says Sara Hook, who also joined the UIUC dance faculty in 2000. "You were either a technique teacher or a theory/history teacher. Cynthia's had to very patiently educate all of us about the nature of her work, and I think that has increased our passion for the kind of excavation she brings to her research."

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News
Clockwise from top left: Courtesy Ford Foundation; Christian Peacock; Nathan James, Courtesy Gibson; David Gonsier, courtesy Marshall; Bill Zemanek, courtesy King; Josefina Santos, courtesy Brown; Jayme Thornton; Ian Douglas, courtesy American Realness

Since 1954, the Dance Magazine Awards have celebrated the living legends of our field—from Martha Graham to Misty Copeland to Alvin Ailey to Gene Kelly.

This year is no different. But for the first time ever, the Dance Magazine Awards will be presented virtually—which is good news for aspiring dancers (and their teachers!) everywhere. (Plus, there's a special student rate of $25.)

The Dance Magazine Awards aren't just a celebration of the people who shape the dance field—they're a unique educational opportunity and a chance for dancers to see their idols up close.


Here's why your dancers (and you!) should tune in:

They'll see dance history in the making.

Carlos Acosta. Debbie Allen. Camille A. Brown. Laurieann Gibson. Alonzo King.

If you haven't already taught your students about these esteemed awardees, odds are you'll be adding them to your curriculum before long.

Not only will your students get to hear from each of them at a pivotal moment in their careers (and Dance Magazine Awards acceptance speeches are famously chock-full of inspiration), they'll also hear from presenters like William Forsythe and Theresa Ruth Howard.

This year, all the Dance Magazine Awards are going to Black artists, as a step towards repairing the history of honoring primarily white artists.

And meet tomorrow's dance legends.

Dance Magazine's Harkness Promise Awards, this year going to Kyle Marshall and Marjani Forté-Saunders, offer funding, rehearsal space and mentorship to innovative young choreographers in their first decade of presenting work—a powerful reminder to your students that major success in the dance world doesn't happen overnight.

They'll get a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes.

Solely teaching your students how to be a great dancer doesn't give them the full picture. A complete dance education produces artists who are savvy about what happens behind the scenes, too.

In 2018, Dance Media launched the Chairman's Award to honor those behind-the-scenes leaders who keep our field moving. Each year's recipient is chosen by our CEO, Frederic M. Seegal. This year's award goes to Ford Foundation president Darren Walker, who is using philanthropy to make the performing arts—and the world at large—more just.

And, of course, see dozens of great dance works.

Where else could your students see selections from Alonzo King's contemporary ballet classics next to Camille A. Brown's boundary-pushing dance theater works? Or see both Carlos Acosta and Laurieann Gibson in action in the same evening? Excerpts from the awardees' works will show your students what it is exactly that makes these artists so special.

So gather your class (virtually!) and join us next Monday, December 7, at 6 pm. To receive the special student rate, please email dmawards@dancemedia.com.

See you there!

Leap! Executive Director Drew Vamosi (Courtesy Leap!)

Since its inaugural season in 2012, Leap! National Dance Competition has been all about the little things.

"I wanted to have a 'boutique' competition. One where we went out to only one city every weekend, so I could be there myself, and we could really get to know the teachers and watch their kids progress from year to year," says Leap! executive director Drew Vamosi. According to Vamosi, thoughtful details make all the difference, especially during a global pandemic that's thrown many dancers' typical comp-season schedules for a loop. That's why Leap! prides itself on features like its professional-quality set design, as well as its one-of-a-kind leaping competition, where dancers can show off their best tricks for special cash and merchandise prizes.

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