The Best of Everything

Are you ready for our Dance Teacher Summit? The excitement is building as we prepare to bring the pages of the magazine to life, August 1–3, here in New York City—great classes with your favorite master teachers, panel discussions about running a successful studio, networking with your colleagues and a few surprises as well. As you read this, 15 finalists are preparing to present their choreography for the judges of the Capezio A.C.E. Awards. We hope you’ll be on hand to cheer for them and to help us honor Franco De Vita with the 2014 Dance Teacher Lifetime Achievement Award.

De Vita brings a very full career of training, performing and teaching to his current position as artistic director of American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. The ABT National Training curriculum he co-authored with Raymond Lukens today reaches ballet students across the U.S. It had its seeds in Florence, Italy, during the 1980s,  where they experimented with concepts from the French, Russian, Danish and Italian schools of ballet technique before landing on the perfect blend that would produce the purity of movement that has become De Vita’s hallmark. “Every school has something to offer,” he told editor Amy Brandt in “How I Teach Ballet.” “Why not try to have the best of everything?”

In this spirit of having the best of everything, each year, we celebrate four educators with the Dance Teacher Awards. Read the inspiring stories of these professionals who were nominated by their colleagues and peers.

And as you strive for the best in your business and your career, we offer our annual Dance Directory, with contact information for makers and suppliers, programs and services. It’s a resource you’ll want to keep close at hand throughout the year.

The Dance Teacher editors and I look forward to meeting you in person.


Photo by Matthew Murphy

Teacher Voices
Getty Images

I often teach ballet over Zoom in the evenings, shortly after sunset. Without the natural light coming from my living room window, I drag a table lamp next to my portable barre so that the computer's camera can see me clearly enough. I prop the laptop on a chair taken from the kitchen and then spend the next few hours running back and forth between the computer screen of Zoom tiles and my makeshift dance floor.

Much of this setup is the result of my attempts to recreate the most important aspects of an in-person dance studio: I have a barre, a floor and as much space as I can reasonably give myself within a small apartment. I do not, however, have a mirror, and neither do most of my students.

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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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Teachers Trending
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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