Actress Mary Tyler Moore passed away yesterday in Greenwich, Connecticut, at age 80. Known for her starring roles on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" in the '70s and "The Dick Van Dyke Show" in the '60s, Moore helped create a positive image of the 20th-century career woman.

But did you know that she was a dancer, too?

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The holidays are here and in the dance world, that typically means one thing: Nutcracker season! As a former bunhead, I’d be remiss not to give a shout-out to some of the Nutcracker productions we all know and love.

Houston Ballet's Jared Matthews and Karina Gonzalez dance the Sugar Plum Fairy pas de deux.

10 Nutcrackers That Rock

  1. George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker(1954) Where to see it: New York City Ballet; Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle; Pennsylvania Ballet, Philadelphia.

  1. Kent Stowell’s Nutcracker(1983) Where to see it: PNB retired the production last year, but you can catch it on DVD via Nutcracker: The Motion Picture, filmed in 2011.

  1. Ben Stevenson’s The Nutcracker(1987) Where to see it: Houston Ballet, Houston, Texas (Catch it now because HB is retiring the production after this year. Artistic director Stanton Welch will present a new version in 2016.)

  1. Mark Morris’ The Hard Nut(1991) Where to see it: Mark Morris Dance Group, Brooklyn, NY.

  1. Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker!(1992) Where to see it: available on DVD.

  1. Helgi Tomasson’s Nutcracker(2004) Where to see it: San Francisco Ballet, San Francisco.

  1. Debbie Allen’s The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker(2010) Where to see it: Debbie Allen Dance Academy, Los Angeles.

  1. Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker(2010) Where to see it: American Ballet Theatre, Costa Mesa, California.

  1. Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker(2012) Where to see it: Boston Ballet, Boston.

  1. Gelsey Kirkland’s The Nutcracker(2013) Where to see it: Gelsey Kirkland Ballet, Brooklyn, NY.

The snow scene from Alexei Ratmansky's The Nutcracker

5 Reasons Why The Nutcracker Will Never Get Old

  1. The music is iconic—Nothing rings in the holiday season quite like Tschaikovsky’s score.

  1. It’s joyful—In most versions, the unhappiest thing that happens is Clara’s nutcracker getting broken (only temporarily) by her pesky brother Fritz. Not too bad if you ask me!

  1. It’s the perfect blend of narrative and non-narrative ballet—The first act’s party and fight scenes are ballet acting at its finest. The second act’s Land of Sweets offers a buffet of dance delicacies.

  1. It’s a time-honored holiday tradition—If you haven’t danced in it, it’s likely you’ve seen it. Each year, thousands of people attend the show, bringing in roughly 40 percent of ballet companies’ annual revenue.

  1. There’s something in it for everyone—From the humorous antics of the opening party scene to the action-packed fight scene that follows, to the technical feats of the Sugar Plum Fairy, it’s a show everyone can enjoy.

Happy Holidays!

Photos (from top): by Amitava Sarkar, courtesy of Houston Ballet; by Gene Shiavone, courtesy of American Ballet Theatre

Don’t miss a single issue of Dance Teacher.

 

Kirkland with GKA students

In November 2014, DT readers got insight into Gelsey Kirkland’s training philosophy at the Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet. Her and husband Michael Chernov’s focus on recapturing classicism has proven to be a recipe for success—the Academy’s enrollment has steadily climbed since its founding in 2010. Now with at least 80 full-time students, the Academy has a new home in Brooklyn. In June, GKA left their Tribeca home in Manhattan and migrated to the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn at 29 Jay St.

In the new space–formerly St. Ann’s Warehouse, a theater venue–the school has 9,000 square feet of dance space and an in-house theater, which seats 600. The summer renovations made room for office space, four studios and a retractable wall that can create a fifth studio. The column-free studio space is an added bonus.

In their new space GKA has room to grow even further. With summer intensive enrollment at an all-time high, it will be hosting its first annual winter intensive, January 4–6, 2016. For more info, visit: gelseykirklandacademyofclassicalballet.org.

Photo by Kyle Froman

David Howard on the January 2001 cover

David Howard's passing has dealt an emotional blow to the dance world, particularly to his many students and fellow staff members at New York City's Steps on Broadway. "We are bereft," says Steps' co-artistic managing director Diane Grumet. "A tremendous loss to the dance world, a tremendous gift to the world while he was with us."

Howard's Facebook fan page, where he signed a 2012 Christmas post from "Uncle David," is overflowing with dancers' comments and photos of the teacher who shaped countless lives during his career. Among his most well-known students are Natalia Makarova, Mikhail Baryshnikov and, of course, Gelsey Kirkland. In January 2001 DT, Howard shared how he worked closely with the feisty Kirkland to "completely retrain" her. “She was fabulous because she would say, ‘I want to do it my way, not their way,’" he said. "She was a rebel, but because of her talent she could get away with it.”

Do you have a story or a memory of David Howard you'd like to share? Comment below, or e-mail editor Kristin Schwab, kschwab@dancemedia.com.

Cover photo by Paul B. Goode

Natalia Markarova, center, in Howard's class. Photo by Victor Deliso, courtesy of Dance Magazine archives.

“I've always liked to question things," says renowned ballet teacher and coach David Howard. His success in training dancers, from adult beginners to seasoned ballerinas, is proof that Howard is asking the right questions. Never one to rest on his laurels, the master educator is also a tireless student of dance pedagogy. His teaching philosophy focuses on a scientific approach to movement, incorporating anatomy and kinesiology as well as movement dynamics and musicality.

He doesn't hesitate to challenge the sanctity of the centuries-old traditions of ballet training: “I have to prove every day that I can do what I do, and then I have to reevaluate—is it working or isn't it? Do the students look better?"

In the five years since he has closed his school, the David Howard Dance Center, Howard has not skipped a beat. He has taught in England, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Japan and Mexico, in addition to maintaining a busy teaching schedule in New York City at Broadway Dance Center, Steps on Broadway and at the Joffrey/New School University BFA program.

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