Seen and Heard At the Dance Teacher Summit: Tony Dovolani

As our 2014 Dance Teacher Summit approaches, we're getting excited to try out some new dance styles during the three days of classes and seminars. Tony Dovolani's ballroom crash course is always a crowd favorite, even if we can't quite figure out how to move our hips like he does...

An Emmy-nominated choreographer and winner of multiple U.S. and world ballroom championships, Dovolani coaches Latin and ballroom at Dance With Me studios in NYC, Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut. He co-owns the business with fellow “Dancing with the Stars” pros Valentin and Maksim Chmerkovskiy. DT spoke to him about the challenges of coaching nondancers on "DWTS" and how he continues his education as an artist.

Tony Dovolani

Pro on “Dancing with the Stars”

Dovolani was paired with tennis great Martina Navratilova on Season 14 of "Dancing With the Stars."

Dance Teacher: On “DWTS,” you work with people who have never set foot in a dance studio before. How do you get them to loosen up and keep an open mind?

Tony Dovolani: The first thing I explain is that walking is dancing. Every single person has a rhythm in his or her body, because it takes coordination to walk. It’s just putting one foot in front of the other, but I try to remove the expectation that they should be able to do it right away. A child takes about a year and a half before she can put one foot in front of the other. Even if she learns to walk at nine months, she’s still waddling back and forth! It takes time, but I 100-percent believe that anyone can learn how to dance, and I actually think it’s the ones who have a hard time learning things in the beginning that tend to stick it out and be a little bit more determined.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DT: Do you think it’s important for teachers to continue their own educations?

TD: Oh, absolutely. Some people stop taking lessons because they think they’re masters. In my opinion, the moment you consider yourself a “master,” you should stop dancing completely because you must know it all! I retired from competing about four years ago, and I think I’ve had more lessons after I retired than before. This is my passion; it’s not my job.

DT: Who do you learn the most from?

TD: I learn from every dancer that I’ve ever watched. I learn from other teachers, from my students, and I ask them all questions. I’m not afraid to tell them I don’t know something. I want to explore their minds and find out how they would approach something. I think people are way too eager to talk about how they do things and not enough to learn from other people. I also go to Broadway Dance Center in NYC, to Alvin Ailey, and I go watch New York City Ballet quite often—I think they’re phenomenal. Pretty much anything that has to do with dance, I’m there.

Photos courtesy of ABC

News
Getty Images

Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

Keep reading... Show less
Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

Christy Funsch's teaching career has taken her from New York City to the Bay Area to Portugal, with a stint in a punk band in between. But this fall—fresh off a Fulbright in Portugal at the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, School of Dance (ESD), teaching and researching empathetic embodiment through somatic dance training—Funsch's teaching has taken her to an entirely new location: Zoom. A visiting professor at Slippery Rock University for the 2020–21 academic year, Funsch is adapting her eclectic, boundary-pushing approach to her virtual classes.

Originally from central New York State, Funsch spent 20 years performing in the Bay Area, where she also started her own company, Funsch Dance Experience. "My choreographic work from that time is in the dance-theater experiential, fantasy realm of performance," she says. "I also started blending genres and a lot of urban styles found their way into my choreography."

Keep reading... Show less
News
Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.