Strong Young Women Set to Graduate

     Over the weekend I attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Performing Arts’ (in Manhattan) Graduation Dance Concert 2009. Every dancer displayed a high level of technical proficiency matched by great artistry and performance quality to create a fantastic culmination of their hard work over their high school years. They executed extremely difficult partnering smoothly, and showed their versatility as dancers as they switched between modern and ballet techniques with ease.
     As I began to reflect on each piece, and their individual successes, one piece in particular caught my attention: Adam Barruch’s “The Quiet Room.”  This piece’s success came from the dancers’ clearly directed energy matched with live music played by other students.  Full of distinct shapes and well-crafted movement, it was however, the partnering that I found most interesting—and it was comprised of, thankfully, not just boy-girl pairings.  
     Nathan Trice’s piece “Their Speech Is Silver, Their Silence Is Gold” also featured women in a powerful way. A large group of powerful young women (with a student female vocalist) fiercely mastered the complicated and sudden gestures of Trice’s choreography with a strength and intensity that was unmatched the rest of the evening—definitely deserving the standing ovation they received.  
     What better way to show maturing girls that women are strong and deserving of respect, than through dance that presents women as impressive and commanding artists?  There will always be places for the gentle princesses of ballet, but it was great to witness this art community where young women can really soar.

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.

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