Dance News
The Museum Workout. Photo by Paula Lobo, courtesy of the Met

As you tally up the reasons to be grateful this Thanksgiving, take a moment to reflect on a few of the world premieres that broke new ground this year. Some changed our perspective on dance, and others were just plain fierce, but they all got our attention and inspired our work as dance teachers.

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Dance News

Dance Teacher editors stand with the 2016 Dance Teacher Award winners at the Capezio A.C.E. Awards. From left to right: Rachel Caldwell, Rachel Rizzuto, Helen Rolfe, Joanne Chapman, Claudio Muñoz, Robert Battle, Karen Hildebrand, Kathleen Isaac and Pamela VanGilder

What a whirlwind weekend! It was my first-ever Dance Teacher Summit, and it was awesome! Throughout the weekend's classes, seminars, workshops, Capezio A.C.E. Awards and the Closing Summit panel discussion, teachers from far and wide shared their wisdom and passion for teaching dance. Here are five things I learned at the Summit:

1. Studio owners are superheroes. At the studio owners' session on Thursday, studio owners from across the country discussed the challenges they face. My takeaway? These women and men are amazing. Not only do they run a business, teach class, choreograph and manage staff, they deal with problematic parents, fundraising, the repercussions of a constantly changing economy, being a mentor to students and adapting their businesses to the digital age. And that's not even half of it! I tip my hat to you, studio owners. You are superheroes.

2. Dance really is for every child. Since seeing the documentary P.S. Dance! last year, I have thought a lot about its prevailing message, “Dance for every child." I felt that concept very deeply when I attended a workshop titled “Special Needs Students," led by Rhythm Works Integrative Dance teacher Tricia Gomez. She gave a rundown of sensory issues experienced by students with special needs and showed how different types of cuing (visual, auditory and tactile) can help those students dance. It was fascinating and inspiring!

Talent and innovation were abundant at the Capezio A.C.E. Awards! Among the winners were 2nd runner ups Mark Osborn and Justin Myles for their tap number, Long Train Running.

3. The competition scene is immense (and intense!). At both the competition/convention panel discussion and Joanne Chapman and Nancy Giles' seminar, “Competition Teams: Keeping it Smooth," I was blown away by just how much the comp scene has expanded since I was a studio dancer. Representatives from 15 dance competitions were present at the Summit to field questions. Meanwhile Chapman and Giles shared how they run their award-winning comp teams. One key to their success? Hold every dancer on the team to the same high standards.

4. Stay positive and good things will come your way. At Kim Delgrosso's seminar, “Fill Your Cup," she shared how maintaining a positive attitude and being grateful can impact your life. It's worked well for her—the mother of 8 and grandmother of 22 has run a successful studio in Orem, Utah, for more than 30 years. From taking the time to connect with the people around you to participating in nondance activities, she had great suggestions for staying grounded and humble in this often chaotic industry.

5. The future of dance education looks bright. The Closing Summit panel discussion last night was truly uplifting. Summit ambassadors Denise Wall, Joanne Chapman, Kim Delgrosso, Sue Sampson-Dalena, Dance Teacher editor-in-chief Karen Hildebrand and faculty member Deborah Wingert talked with teachers about the future of dance education. More job opportunities for dancers, an increased emphasis on health and self-care and more innovation in the choreographic realm than we know what to do with are all indicators of a bright future for today's young dancers.

From left to right: Denise Wall, Kim Delgrosso, Sue Sampson-Dalena, Joanne Chapman, Karen Hildebrand and Deborah Wingert

Photos (from top): by Rachel Papo (2); by Helen Rolfe

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Kirsten Russell’s Islands, the 2015 grand prize winner

The Capezio A.C.E. Awards competition is well underway, and we’ve seen some amazing choreography so far. However, there’s still time for more submissions, and we want to see yours. Upload a video of your piece to to have the chance to win a $15,000 production budget toward your own show. Fifteen finalists will be chosen to compete live in New York City at the 2016 Dance Teacher Summit, July 29–31. The deadline for submissions is May 2. For rules and regulations and more info about the competition, visit:

Photo: by Joe Toreno

Don’t miss a single issue of Dance Teacher.

The June 1 deadline is fast approaching, but there’s still time to enter to win the 2015 Capezio Award for Choreographic Excellence. Simply upload a video of your best group choreography to the contest page at, and representatives from Dance Teacher magazine and Capezio will select 15 finalists to compete during July’s Dance Teacher Summit. Here why you should definitely do it:

4. If you make it to the finals, you’ll get to spend three days with fellow dance-lovers at our Dance Teacher Summit in Long Beach, California! It’s our favorite event of the year, with tons of industry seminars and movement classes, not to mention the A.C.E. finals and presentations of the 2015 Dance Teacher Awards.

3. Your work will be seen by major players in the dance world. Past years’ judges at the A.C.E. finals have included Mia Michaels, Mandy Moore, Benoit-Swan Pouffer and Katy Spreadbury, to name a few.

2. When it comes to kick-starting your career, you’ll be in good company. Choreographers who have placed at past A.C.E. competitions include Travis Wall, Teddy Forance, Peter Chu, Al Blackstone, Billy Bell and Dana Foglia. More recently, Erica Sobol, Melinda Sullivan, Andre Kasten and Jacob Jonas have taken home cash prizes and are doing big things. If you don’t know their names, yet, you soon will!

1. For new choreographers, the biggest obstacle to showing work is funding. The top-three winners at the A.C.E. competitions will receive $15,000, $5,000 and $3,000 toward the production of their own evening-length shows in New York City. That’s hard to beat.

Visit to enter.

Seen & Heard At the Dance Teacher Summit

We’ve rounded up the best moments from the Capezio A.C.E. and Dance Teacher Awards evening at July’s 2012 Dance Teacher Summit.

“Thank you so much for this incredibly inspiring event. The energy, ideas, passion and tools you provided all of the instructors will continue to touch and enrich so many other people’s lives... like waves rippling out... and continue to fuel the progression of the art forward. Cheers!” —Kimmie Dobbs Chan, artistic director of Washington, DC’s Deviated Theatre via Facebook

Bree Hafen's "Terminal Soul"

Kim Stroud, Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, K-12 DT Award

Katie Glasner, Barnard College, DT Award for Higher Education

Liz Schmidt, Spotlight Dance Works, DT Award for Private Studios/Conservatories

Melinda Sullivan's hard-hitting tap number, "Gone," wowed judges and audience members at the 2012 Capezio A.C.E. Awards.

Angela Whitehill, Burklyn Ballet Theatre, DT Award, Private Studios/Conservatories

Dana Foglia's "Ribbons"

Dance Teacher editor in chief, Karen Hildebrand (left), presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Denise Wall.

First and second runners-up, Dana Foglia (right) and Bree Hafen (left)

Melinda Sullivan won the Capezio A.C.E. Award.


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