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SpongeBob SquarePants and Mean Girls Tie for Most Tony Nominations

The Tony nominations prove that a yellow sponge has a place on Broadway. Photo by Joan Marcus, Courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown.

It's Broadway awards season (hello Tony, Chita Rivera and Drama Desk Awards!), and this year, there's a lot for fans to sing and dance about. If you're a millennial, your heart is certainly happy with this morning's Tony announcement: SpongeBob SquarePants and Mean Girls scored the most nominations for a musical at 12 each. (The two-part play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child got 10.)

Mean Girls leads the pack with 12 Tony nominations. Photo by Joan Marcus, Courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown.



The Band's Visit wasn't far behind with 11, and revivals fared especially well with 10 nods each for Carousel and My Fair Lady and 8 for Once On This Island, choreographed by our April cover star Camille A. Brown. (Though she didn't get a Best Choreography nod, we think Brown belongs in the category.) Unsurprisingly, Justin Peck was called out for his Carousel choreography in perhaps the danciest show of the season. This year, a play even got a Best Choreography nom, as Steven Hoggett was praised for his movement direction in the very popular Harry Potter production.

Our hats are off to Christopher Gattelli who received recognition for choreography in the absurdly fun SpongeBob and the impeccable revival of My Fair Lady. The man who can make moves for an underwater kitchen sponge and Brits in 1913 London in the same season is truly versatile.On Friday, the Chita Rivera Awards nominations were also announced. We love the committee's annual recognition of dance on Broadway, off-Broadway and film, shining a light not only on the headliners but the all-important ensembles.

Rounding out the trifecta, the Drama Desk Awards nominations came out last Thursday. Putting all New York City productions on an even playing field, Broadway, off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway shows vie for the same awards.

Tony Awards Nominations

Ahead of the June 10 Tony Awards show on CBS, here are the musicals and stars that were tapped for a potential win in select categories. (For a full list of nominees in all categories, click here.)

Best Choreography

Christopher Gattelli, My Fair Lady

Christopher Gattelli, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical

Steven Hoggett, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two

Casey Nicholaw, Mean Girls

Justin Peck, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel

Best Musical

The Band's Visit

Frozen

Mean Girls

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical

Best Revival of a Musical

My Fair Lady

Once On This Island

Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Harry Hadden-Paton, My Fair Lady

Joshua Henry, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel

Tony Shalhoub, The Band's Visit

Ethan Slater, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

Lauren Ambrose, My Fair Lady

Hailey Kilgore, Once On This Island

LaChanze, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical

Katrina Lenk, The Band's Visit

Taylor Louderman, Mean Girls

Jessie Mueller, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

Norbert Leo Butz, My Fair Lady

Alexander Gemignani, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel

Grey Henson, Mean Girls

Gavin Lee, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical

Ari'el Stachel, The Band's Visit

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

Ariana DeBose, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical

Renée Fleming, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel

Lindsay Mendez, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel

Ashley Park, Mean Girls

Diana Rigg, My Fair Lady

Ariana DeBose sparkles as Disco Donna in Summer. Photo by Kevin Berne, Courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown.



Best Direction of a Musical

Michael Arden, Once On This Island

David Cromer, The Band's Visit

Tina Landau, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical

Casey Nicholaw, Mean Girls

Bartlett Sher, My Fair Lady

Chita Rivera will receive a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.

Chita Rivera Awards Nominations

Here are the 2017–18 nominees ahead of the May 20 ceremony:

Outstanding Choreography in a Broadway Show

Camille A. Brown, Once On This Island

Christopher Gattelli, SpongeBob SquarePants

Casey Nicholaw, Mean Girls Justin Peck, Carousel

Sergio Trujillo, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical

Outstanding Ensemble in a Broadway Show

Carousel

Mean Girls

Once On This Island

SpongeBob SquarePants

Summer: The Donna Summer Musical

Outstanding Male Dancer in a Broadway Show

Norbert Leo Butz, My Fair Lady

Andrei Chagas, Carousel

Gavin Lee, SpongeBob SquarePants

Amar Ramasar, Carousel

Tony Yazbeck, Prince of Broadway

Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Show

Yesenia Ayala, Carousel

Ariana DeBose, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical

Hailey Kilgore, Once On This Island

Katrina Lenk, The Band's Visit

Skye Mattox, Carousel

Ashley Park, Mean Girls

Brittany Pollack, Carousel

Outstanding Choreography in an Off-Broadway Show

Nejla Yatkin, The Boy Who Danced on Air

Sonya Tayeh, Hundred Days

Zach Morris & Jennine Willett, Ghost Light

Chris Bailey, Jerry Springer: The Opera

Monica Bill Barnes, One Night Only

Outstanding Female Dancer in an Off-Broadway Show

Anna Bass, One Night Only

Monica Bill Barnes, One Night Only

Elizabeth Carena, Ghost Light

Tiffany Mann, Jerry Springer: The Opera

Kenita R. Miller, Bella

Outstanding Male Dancer in an Off-Broadway Show

Colin Campbell, Disco Pigs

Robert Fairchild, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Troy Iwata, The Boy Who Danced on Air

Evan Ruggiero, Bastard Jones

Nikhil Saboo, The Boy Who Danced on Air

At the Movies

In the film category, theses movies with theatrical release got a nod for their choreography:

Basmati Blues (Noemie LaFrance, Rajeev, Dimple Ganguly, Vijay Ganguly and Ryan Heffington)

Finding Your Feet (Mark Jennings)

Hello Again (Todd Underwood)

Polina (Angelin Preljocaj)

The Greatest Showman (Shannon Holtzapffel, Ashley Wallen)

Three dance documentaries also received nominations: Step, Bobbi Jene (starring Bobbi Jene Smith) and Anatomy of a Male Ballet Dancer (starring Marcelo Gomes).

The Greatest Showman. Photo by Niko Tavernise, Courtesy 20th Century Fox.



Drama Desk Award Nominations

Here are the highlights dancers should know before winners are announced at a June 3 ceremony. (Get the full list here.)

Outstanding Musical

Desperate Measures, The York Theatre Company

KPOP, Ars Nova/Ma-Yi Theatre Company/Woodshed Collective

Mean Girls

Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story, 2b Theatre Company/59E59

SpongeBob SquarePants

Outstanding Revival of a Musical

Amerike—The Golden Land, National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene

Carousel

My Fair Lady, Lincoln Center Theater

Once on This Island

Pacific Overtures, Classic Stage Company

Outstanding Actor in a Musical

Jelani Alladin, Frozen

Harry Hadden-Paton, My Fair Lady

Joshua Henry, Carousel

Evan Ruggiero, Bastard Jones, the cell

Ethan Slater, SpongeBob SquarePants

Outstanding Actress in a Musical

Gizel Jiménez, Miss You Like Hell, The Public Theater

LaChanze, Summer

Jessie Mueller, Carousel

Ashley Park, KPOP, Ars Nova/Ma-Yi Theater Company/Woodshed Collective

Daphne Rubin-Vega, Miss You Like Hell, The Public Theater

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical

Damon Daunno, The Lucky Ones, Ars Nova

Alexander Gemignani, Carousel

Grey Henson, Mean Girls

Gavin Lee, SpongeBob SquarePants

Tony Yazbeck, Prince of Broadway, Manhattan Theatre Club

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical

Lindsay Mendez, Carousel

Kenita R. Miller, Once on This Island

Ashley Park, Mean Girls

Diana Rigg, My Fair Lady

Kate Rockwell, Mean Girls

Outstanding Director of a Musical

Christian Barry, Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story, 2b Theatre Company/59E59

Teddy Bergman, KPOP, Ars Nova/Ma-Yi Theater Company/Woodshed Collective

Jack O'Brien, Carousel

Tina Landau, SpongeBob SquarePants

Bartlett Sher, My Fair Lady

The LaDuca Award for Outstanding Choreography

Camille A. Brown, Once on This Island

Christopher Gattelli, SpongeBob SquarePants

Casey Nicholaw, Mean Girls

Justin Peck, Carousel

Nejla Yatkin, The Boy Who Danced on Air, Abingdon Theatre Company

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.


Find a formula that works for your studio

For Melanie Boniszewski, owner of Tonawanda Dance Arts in upstate New York, the answer to profitable summer programming lies in drop-in classes.

"We're in a cold-weather climate, so summer is actually really hard to attract people—everyone wants to be outside, and no one wants to commit to a full season," she says.

Tonawanda Dance Arts offers a children's program in which every class is à la carte: 30-minute, $15 drop-in classes are offered approximately two times a week in the evenings, over six weeks, for different age groups. And two years ago, she created her Stay Strong All Summer Long program for older students, which offers 12 classes throughout the summer and a four-day summer camp. Students don't know what type of class they're attending until they show up. "If you say you're going to do a hip-hop class, you could get 30 kids, but if you do ballet, it could be only 10," she says. "We tell them to bring all of their shoes and be ready for anything."

Start-up costs are minimal—just payroll and advertising (which she starts in April). For older age groups, Boniszewski focuses on bringing in her studio clientele, rather than marketing externally. In the 1- to 6-year-old age group, though, around 50 percent of summer students tend to be new ones—98 percent of whom she's been able to convert to year-round classes.

A group of elementary school aged- girls stands in around a dance studio. A teacher, a young black man, stands in front of the studio, talking to them

An East County Performing Arts Center summer class from several years ago. Photo courtesy ECPAC

East County Performing Arts Center owner Nina Koch knows that themed, weeklong camps are the way to go for younger dancers, as her Brentwood, California students are on a modified year-round academic school calendar, and parents are usually looking for short-term daycare solutions to fill their abbreviated summer break.

Koch keeps her weekly camps light on dance: "When we do our advertising for Frozen Friends camp, for example, it's: 'Come dance, tumble, play games, craft and have fun!'"

Though Koch treats her campers as studio-year enrollment leads, she acknowledges that these weeklong camps naturally function as a way for families who aren't ready for a long-term commitment to still participate in dance. "Those who aren't enrolled for the full season will be put into a sales nurture campaign," she says. "We do see a lot of campers come to subsequent camps, including our one-day camps that we hold once a month throughout our regular season."

Serve your serious dancers

One dilemma studio owners may face: what to do about your most serious dancers, who may be juggling outside intensives with any summer programming that you offer.

Consider making their participation flexible. For Boniszweski's summer program, competitive dancers must take six of the 12 classes offered over a six-week period, as well as the four-day summer camp, which takes place in mid-August. "This past summer, because of COVID, they paid for six but were able to take all 12 if they wanted," she says. "Lots of people took advantage of that."

For Koch, it didn't make sense to require her intensive dancers to participate in summer programming, partly because she earned more revenue catering to younger students and partly because her older students often made outside summer-training plans. "That's how you build a well-rounded dancer—you want them to go off and get experience from teachers you might not be able to bring in," she says.

Another option: Offering private lessons. Your more serious dancers can take advantage of flexible one-on-one training, and you can charge higher fees for individualized instruction. Consider including a financial incentive to get this kind of programming up and running. "Five years ago, we saw that some kids were asking for private lessons, so we created packages: If you bought five lessons, you'd get one for free—to get people in the door," says Boniszewksi. "After two years, once that program took off, we got rid of the discount. People will sign up for as many as 12 private lessons."

A large group of students stretch in a convention-style space with large windows. They follow a teacher at the front of the room in leaning over their right leg for a hamstring stretch

Koch's summer convention experience several years ago. Photo courtesy East County Performing Arts Center

Bring the (big) opportunities to your students

If you do decide to target older, more serious dancers for your summer programming, you may need to inject some dance glamour to compete with fancier outside intensives.

Bring dancers opportunities they wouldn't have as often during the school year. For Boniszewski, that means offering virtual master classes with big-name teachers, like Misha Gabriel and Briar Nolet. For Koch, it's bringing the full convention experience to her students—and opening it up to the community at large. In past years, she's rented her local community center for a weekend-long in-house convention and brought in professional ballet, jazz, musical theater and contemporary guest teachers.

In 2019, the convention was "nicely profitable" while still an affordable $180 per student, and attracted 120 dancers, a mix of her dancers and dancers from other studios. "It was less expensive than going to a big national convention, because parents didn't have to worry about lodging or travel," Koch says. "We wanted it to be financially attainable for families to experience something like this in our sleepy little town."

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