Here and below: LehrerDance performing at Jacob's Pillow

Three years ago, choreographer Jon Lehrer (DT, November 2007) was pleasantly surprised to be contacted by the U.S. Consulate in Vladivostok, Russia. Eager to bring American modern dance to Vladivostok for the first time, the Consulate invited Lehrer’s then-six-year-old company, LehrerDance, to tour the Russian Far East.

This month, LehrerDance will reprise its trip, visiting Anadyr and the Chukotka Peninsula November 10–17. The tour is part of the Consulate’s mission to foster good relations between Russia and the U.S. and promote American culture in one of Russia’s most remote areas. Lehrer thinks it’s the company’s fusion of modern and jazz dance—he has danced for both Erick Hawkins Dance Company and Giordano Dance Chicago—that makes it a good fit for international touring. “The combination of athleticism, artistry and accessibility in our work is what makes us such an American company,” he says. LehrerDance was selected by the Consulate from a long list of companies recommended by the artistic staff at the American Dance Festival, and not without plenty of research. “They vetted every company without their knowing, from websites, Facebook—they started following me on Twitter,” says Lehrer. “They called or e-mailed some of the places we had toured. They really investigated.”

Much of the positive feedback must have come from the company’s home base in Buffalo, New York, where LehrerDance has well-embedded itself. After retiring from Giordano in 2007, Lehrer knew he didn’t want to start his own troupe in a city already saturated with dance groups, like Chicago or New York. “I saw a lot of my peers in Chicago starting companies,” he says, “and I didn’t want to compete with them for a local audience.” He reconnected with the dance department at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, where he’d gotten his dance degree, and now uses the school’s dance facilities as rehearsal space. He also gets to cultivate his future dancers from the department, having hired two alums over the past eight years. As the city’s only international touring professional dance company, LehrerDance enjoys collaborations with many cultural institutions in Buffalo, like the Burchfield Penney Art Center.

But despite the rapport with the community, everything pales in comparison to Russian audiences’ reaction to seeing LehrerDance perform. According to Lehrer, the biggest difference between Russia and the U.S. isn’t politics but the number of curtain calls. “They give four or five ovations at the end of the show,” he says. “And when the dancers made their way to the lobby, it was as if every single person in that theater was waiting to take their picture and get their autograph.”

 

Photos by Christopher Duggan, courtesy of LehrerDance

The Conversation
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy of Hightower

The beloved "So You Think You Can Dance" alum and former Emmy-nominated "Dancing with the Stars" pro Chelsie Hightower discovered her passion for ballroom at a young age. She showed a natural ability for the Latin style, but she mastered the necessary versatility by studying jazz, ballet and other forms of dance. "Every style of dance builds on each other," she says, "and the more music you're exposed to, the more your rhythm and coordination is built."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Burklyn Ballet, Courtesy Harlequin

Whether you're putting on a pair of pointe shoes, buckling your ballroom stilettos or lacing up your favorite high tops, the floor you're on can make or break your dancing. But with issues like sticking or slipping and a variety of frictions suitable to different dance steps and styles, it can be confusing to know which floor will work best for you.

No matter what your needs are, Harlequin Floors has your back, or rather, your feet. With 11 different marley vinyl floors available in a range of colors, Harlequin has options for every setting and dance style. We rounded up six of their most popular and versatile floors:

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Insure Fitness
AdobeStock, Courtesy Insure Fitness Group

As a teacher at a studio, you've more than likely developed long-lasting relationships with some of your students and parents. The idea that you could be sued by one of them might seem impossible to imagine, but Insure Fitness Group's Gianna Michalsen warns against relaxing into that mindset. "People say, 'Why do I need insurance? I've been working with these people for 10 years—we're friends,'" she says. "But no one ever takes into account how bad an injury can be. Despite how good your relationship is, people will sue you because of the toll an injury takes on their life."

You'll benefit most from an insurance policy that caters to the specifics of teaching dance at one or several studios. Here's what to look for:

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

If you're not prepared, studio picture day can be a real headache. But, if done right, it can provide you with gorgeous photos that will make your students and parents happy, while simultaneously providing you with marketing content you will be able to use for years to come.

Here are five tips that will help you pull off the day without a hitch.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Success with Just for Kix
Bill Johnson, Courtesy Just for Kix

Running a dance studio is a feat in itself. But adding a competition team into the mix brings a whole new set of challenges. Not only are you focusing on giving your dancers the best training possible, but you're navigating the fast-paced competition and convention circuit. Winning is one goal, but you also want to create an environment that's fun, educational and inspiring for young artists. We asked Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner with over 40 years of experience, for her advice on building a healthy dance team culture:

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Via YouTube

In its 14 years of existence, YouTube has been home to a world of competition dance videos that we have all consumed with heedless pleasure. Every battement, pirouette and trendy move has been archived somewhere, and we are all very thankful.

We decided it was time DT did a deep dive through those years of footage to show you the evolution of competition dance since the early days of YouTube.

From 2005 to 2019, styles have shifted a whole lot. Check them out, and let us know over on our Facebook page what you think the biggest differences are!

Enjoy!

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by World Class Vacations
David Galindo Photography

New York City is a dream destination for many dancers. However aspiring Broadway stars don't have to wait until they're pros to experience all the city has to offer. With Dance the World Broadway, students can get a taste of the Big Apple—plus hone their dance skills and make lasting memories.

Here's why Dance the World Broadway is the best way for students to experience NYC:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Photo courtesy of Koelliker

Sick of doing the same old stuff in technique class? Needing some across-the-floor combo inspiration? We caught up with three teachers from different areas of the country to bring you some of their favorite material for their day-to-day classes.

You're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Thinkstock

Q: I have a very flexible spine and torso. My teachers tell me to use this flexibility during cambrés and port de bras, but when I do, I feel pain—mostly in my lower back. What should I change so I don't end up with back problems?

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

If you're a studio owner, the thought of raising your rates most likely makes you cringe. Despite ever-increasing overhead expenses you can't avoid—rent, salaries, insurance—you're probably wary of alienating your customers, losing students or inviting confrontation if you increase the price of your tuition or registration and recital fees. DT spoke with three veteran studio owners who suggest it's time to get past that. Here's how to give your business the revenue boost it needs and the value justification it (and you) deserve.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Margie Gillis (left); photo by Kyle Froman

Margie Gillis dances the human experience. Undulating naked in a field of billowing grass in Lessons from Nature 4, or whirling in a sweep of lilac fabric in her signature work Slipstream, her movement is free of flashy technique and tricks, but driven and defined by emotion. "There's a central philosophy in my work about what the experience of being human is," says Gillis, whose movement style is an alchemy of Isadora Duncan's uninhibited self-expression and Paul Taylor's musicality, blended with elements of dance theater into something utterly unique and immediately accessible. "I want an authenticity," she says. "I want to touch my audiences profoundly and deeply."

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox