Step, Skip, Leap

I don’t know about you, but I melt whenever I see a toddler in a pink leotard. This issue is filled with them, from Vanessa Salgado’s pre-ballet lesson for Technique  to the roundup of costumes for your youngest dancers (page 48) to Rima Faber’s creative dance class. Watching 4-year-olds awkwardly and adorably explore simple movement patterns, I can’t help but consider the miracle of human development. How exactly do we go from marching in pre-ballet class to mastering 32 fouettés for the Black Swan Pas de Deux?

To answer that question, Faber and a dream team of 10 leaders in the field have recently released new national core standards for dance, which detail the process of cognitive development in children learning dance. We were curious: Why are national standards necessary? After all, dancers have been fine-tuning their bodies as instruments of the artform for 400 years.

“I think about what’s been learned in science and about the body in 400 years—understanding of the body and how to work most efficiently has drastically changed,” Faber told writer Lisa Traiger. “And understanding how the brain helps students learn has equally changed.” In other words, Faber and others who advocate for standards believe it’s time for dance education to evolve from the passing down of steps from teacher to dancer to a more exact science of what it takes to develop artists. In “Standard Practice,” she talks about the new voluntary guidelines, how they work and why studio teachers and pre–K–12 alike will find them useful in preparing dancers for college and career.

Speaking of college, are you up to speed about financial options? How do dancers and their parents finance a college education when average tuition ranges from $22,000 to $42,000 a year? With cash, loans, grants and scholarships making up the college finance pie, how big a slice should go to loans? Will a dance career generate enough cash to make monthly loan payments after graduation? This isn’t a decision your college-bound dancers can afford to leave to their parents. “Let’s Talk About Debt...” will give you some resources to help them make sense of a confusing topic.

Save the date: August 1–3, the pages of Dance Teacher magazine will come to life in New York City. The annual Dance Teacher Summit is an inspiration-filled weekend: technique classes, choreography, business panels and networking opportunities galore. Join us!

Allie Burke, courtesy Lo Cascio

If you'd hear it on the radio, you won't hear it in Anthony Lo Cascio's tap classes.

"If I play a song that my kids know, I'm kind of disappointed in myself," he says. "I either want to be on the cutting edge or playing the classics."

He finds that most of today's trendy tracks lack the depth needed for tap, and that there's a disconnect between kids and popular music. "They have trouble finding the beat compared to older genres," he says.

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Courtesy Lovely Leaps

After the birth of her daughter in 2018, engineer Lisa McCabe had reservations about returning to the workforce full-time. And while she wanted to stay home with the new baby, she wasn't ready to stop contributing financially to her family (after all, she'd had a successful career designing cables for government drones). So, when she got a call that September from an area preschool to lead its dance program, she saw an opportunity.

The invitation to teach wasn't completely out of the blue. McCabe had grown up dancing in Southern California and had a great reputation from serving as her church's dance teacher and team coach the previous three years (stopping only to take a break as a new mother). She agreed to teach ballet and jazz at the preschool on Fridays and from there created an age-appropriate class based on her own training in the Cecchetti and RAD methods. It was a success: In three months, class enrollment went from six to 24 students, and just one year later, McCabe's blossoming Lovely Leaps brand had contracts with eight preschools and three additional teachers.

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Courtesy Shake the Ground

Dance competitions were among the first events to be shut down when the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in the U.S. in mid-March, and they've been among the last able to restart.

So much of the traditional structure of the competition—large groups of dancers and parents from dozens of different studios; a new city every week—simply won't work in our new pandemic world.

How, then, have competitions been getting by, and what does the future look like?

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