Summer Study

Seems impossible to imagine summer from within frigid January, but it is indeed time to begin making plans—whether competition nationals, teacher training or preparing for your own in-house summer program. The 2012 Dance Teacher Summer Study Guide (page 60) is full of options for teachers as well as students. Whether you’re helping your advanced dancers find the right intensive, or looking for the best continuing ed opportunity for yourself, you’ll find everything you need. And to be sure you’re making the most of summertime in your own studio, DT spoke to three studio directors (“Business,” page 56) about how you can bolster your recreational programs—and your bottom line.

When DT visited the San Francisco Ballet School last October, I wondered if all the greenery visible through the floor-to-ceiling windows you see on the cover could be a little distracting for students. But not to worry. During Tina LeBlanc’s Level 8 ballet class, the concentration of the dancers was palpable. A small thing like bright sunlight didn’t stand a chance next to the force field generated by their teacher.

LeBlanc is a sunny, smiling presence, but make no mistake: She’s all focus and intention. Last summer she not only taught in a summer study program but also attended Marcia Dale Weary’s teacher training at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet to sharpen her own skills. To learn why, turn to Mary Ellen Hunt’s profile, “When One Size Does Not Fit All” (page 24).

One of the most popular and talked about sessions of the Dance Teacher Summit last July was an appearance by the legendary jazz teacher Luigi. This month in “Technique” (page 33), Francis Roach demonstrates a basic Luigi jazz lesson that can strengthen your students’ technique, regardless of genre.

Are you a smoker? You undoubtedly understand the health risk you’re taking, but have you considered that you might unintentionally be sending your students the wrong message? In “Trashing the Ash” (page 42), we discredit the reasons dancers take up the habit and tell how you can support them in quitting.

There’s a great deal more in our pages this month to inspire you, as you turn the calendar page to a new and, we hope, brilliant year.

Happy New Year,

Karen Hildebrand

editor in chief

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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Dancer Diary
Claire McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

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