These Studios in Puerto Rico Need Our Help—and They Don't Have a Minute to Lose

Mauro Youth Ballet students helping build the school's new location in 2015. Photo courtesy of Candice Franklin

When Hurricane Harvey devastated swaths of southeast Texas, the dance community stepped up, channeling characteristic discipline and drive raise relief funds for studios and dancers affected by the storm. Now it's time to come to the aid of those in Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria's wrath.

  • Mauro Youth Ballet School, San Juan, PR Teacher Candice Michelle Franklin started a GoFundMe for Mauro Youth Ballet, a school she's traveled to several times over the last few years to guest teach. Only two years ago, the school moved to its new location—and the boys of Mauro Youth Ballet helped build the new studios. Help them get their school up and running again. The Charlotte Youth Ballet is also raising funds for their guest artists who hail from Puerto Rico, including Aureo Andino, Mauro Youth Ballet's co-owner.
  • Comerio, PR Chicopee, Massachusetts–based school Dazzle Studio of Dance is raising money for three of its families who have relatives in Comerio, a small town in the center of the island which was hit particularly hard. The studio will host a fundraiser on October 27 at the Moose Lodge in Chicopee. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children, and the event will feature a DJ, food and raffles.
  • School for the Performing Arts, Guaynabo, PR This Puerto Rico studio has a GoFundMe to rebuild its location and "help our island heal through the arts." With a staff of 35 teachers and 5 administrators, this studio has been around for more than 30 years.

School for the Performing Arts in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. Photo courtesy of SPA

Know of a Hurricane Maria relief effort for dance studios that's not listed here? Talk about it in the comments section or e-mail us ( to let us know more!

Mary Malleney, courtesy Osato

In most classes, dancers are encouraged to count the music, and dance with it—emphasizing accents and letting the rhythm of a song guide them.

But Marissa Osato likes to give her students an unexpected challenge: to resist hitting the beats.

In her contemporary class at EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles (which is now closed, until they find a new space), she would often play heavy trap music. She'd encourage her students to find the contrast by moving in slow, fluid, circular patterns, daring them to explore the unobvious interpretation of the steady rhythms.

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For Parents

Darrell Grand Moultrie teaches at a past Jacob's Pillow summer intensive. Photo Christopher Duggan, courtesy Jacob's Pillow

In the past 10 months, we've grown accustomed to helping our dancers navigate virtual school, classes and performances. And while brighter, more in-person days may be around the corner—or at least on the horizon—parents may be facing yet another hurdle to help our dancers through: virtual summer-intensive auditions.

In 2020, we learned that there are some unique advantages of virtual summer programs: the lack of travel (and therefore the reduced cost) and the increased access to classes led by top artists and teachers among them. And while summer 2021 may end up looking more familiar with in-person intensives, audition season will likely remain remote and over Zoom.

Of course, summer 2021 may not be back to in-person, and that uncertainty can be a hard pill to swallow. Here, Kate Linsley, a mom and academy principal of Nashville Ballet, as well as "J.R." Glover, The Dan & Carole Burack Director of The School at Jacob's Pillow, share their advice for this complicated process.

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Teachers Trending

From left: Anthony Crickmay, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem Archives; Courtesy Ballethnic

It is the urgency of going in a week or two before opening night that Lydia Abarca Mitchell loves most about coaching. But in her role as Ballethnic Dance Company's rehearsal director, she's not just getting the troupe ready for the stage. Abarca Mitchell—no relation to Arthur Mitchell—was Mitchell's first prima ballerina when he founded Dance Theatre of Harlem with Karel Shook; through her coaching, Abarca Mitchell works to pass her mentor's legacy to the next generation.

"She has the same sensibility" as Arthur Mitchell, says Ballethnic co-artistic director Nena Gilreath. "She's very direct, all about the mission and the excellence, but very caring."

Ballethnic is based in East Point, a suburban city bordering Atlanta. In a metropolitan area with a history of racism and where funding is hard-won, it is crucial for the Black-led ballet company to present polished, professional productions. "Ms. Lydia" provides the "hard last eye" before the curtain opens in front of an audience.

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