The Show Must Go On

After 19 consecutive days of the lights being out on Broadway, the shows are finally set to resume. The League of American Theatres and Producers and the Local One stagehand union of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees came to an agreement, late on Wednesday, which will allow performances to begin again this evening.
    The strike ensued after the LATP wanted to change several rules, including those regarding how many stagehands are required to work while a show is being loaded into a theater; minimum lengths of time for which stagehands can be called to duty; and the nature of tasks stagehands are allowed to perform during certain work calls.
    James Claffey, the president of the 2,200-member union for stagehands, maintained from the start that the organization would be open to changes in return for benefits of equal value. But the LATP was set on cutting labor costs.
    The strike closed about 27 Broadway theaters on November 10 and left many ticket holders disappointed when they arrived to find doors locked and picket lines formed outside. It’s also disheartening to think of those who traveled far distances to experience one of New York City’s biggest thrills, not to mention the toll it had on the city’s economy, which was said to be millions of dollars.
    As much as New Yorkers complain about the congestion of tourists stopping to stare and take pictures in Times Square, it’s good to know the theater district is back to normal. And for dance teachers, its important to talk to your students about current events in the arts, to help raise their awareness of some of the trials and tribulations that are a part of making it as a dancer, singer, actor or performer.

Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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Teaching Tips
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After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy TUPAC

When legendary Black ballet dancer Kabby Mitchell III died unexpectedly in 2017, two months before opening his Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center, his friend and business partner Klair Ethridge wasn't sure she had what it took to carry his legacy. Ethridge had been working with Mitchell to co-found TUPAC and planned to serve as its executive director, but she had never envisioned being the face of the school.

Now, Ethridge is heading into her fourth year of leading TUPAC, which she has grown from a fledgling program in an unheated building to a serious ballet school in its own sprung-floor studios, reaching hundreds of students across the Tacoma, Washington, area. The nonprofit has become a case study for what it looks like to carry out the vision of a founder who never had the chance to see his school open—and to take an unapologetically mission-driven approach.

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