When it comes to Broadway, Becca Petersen does it all. Not only is she a swing learning multiple roles for Mean Girls on Broadway as well as understudy for the principal roles of Cady Heron and Regina George, but she also plays an administrative role as the assistant dance captain. When she's not onstage dancing one of the 10 different tracks she covers, or acting out two of Broadway's most notorious mean ladies, she's in the audience, taking notes in order to clean choreography in the next rehearsal. "Once the show opens and the creative team leaves, the dance captains, stage managers and associates keep things running," Petersen says. "I help teach choreography to newcomers when there is turnover and make sure the dancing looks good from day to day."


Petersen has been preparing for this job since high school, when she was dance captain of The Carmel Ambassadors in Indiana. She further honed her triple-threat skills at Brigham Young University, where she earned a BFA in the music dance theater program and performed as a Young Ambassador (the school's touring performance group).

After college in 2014, she moved to New York City to pursue her dreams on The Great White Way. After six months, she booked the developmental lab for The Prom (choreographed and directed by Casey Nicholaw), and five months later she went on tour with Newsies: The Musical. Her official Broadway debut was the dance-tastic Bandstand, just two years after moving to the city, and in September 2017 she booked her current position on Mean Girls.

"I feel lucky and grateful I have accomplished so many of my dreams," Petersen says. "I would love to possibly be a principal one day, or maybe even become an associate. There is so much ahead in the future, and I'm just open to whatever comes my way."

On being a triple threat...

"At a Broadway audition, no matter which call you show up for, you end up having to do all the other aspects of theater as well. What's nice about being equally trained in all areas is I feel like I'm showing my best self in each room I go into. That makes me versatile, which is why I think I have been able to land so many swing jobs. My dance training has truly impacted my success on Broadway in every way. It informs all the other aspects of the theater. Dancing is telling a story—it's acting. In my voice lessons they will have me incorporate movement, because they know that it's all connected. Each skill strengthens the others."

A swing–not a star...

"Being a swing and understudy is challenging in many ways: mentally, physically and emotionally. It's your job to go unnoticed. It's your responsibility to have the show carry on seamlessly. You rarely get the validation or recognition that onstage cast members receive. I've had to learn different ways to validate myself. I always pat myself on the back (and my swing family's backs) for making the show happen. Without us the show quite literally would not go on. Swinging has helped me learn to appreciate everyone in a production. It's taught me how to treat people. It's taught me how to be proactive and work hard myself. It's taught me to acknowledge my self-worth. It's taught me that performing is my true passion. Swinging is hard, but it's brought me so much gratitude. I know that my future is brighter because of the lessons I've learned from swinging. My next goal is to be onstage full-time. I also hope to one day be a principal on Broadway. My plan is to work hard to continually be open to new experiences."

The Conversation
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Photo by spinkickpictures.com, courtesy of Mitchell

"Popular music has an overall energy that lends itself to the street-jazz style," says Derek Mitchell. But over the last eight years or so, the choreographer, who also teaches contemporary, jazz funk and musical theater, has noticed a lack of great musicality and interesting lyrics. As a result, Mitchell's music searches often gravitate toward the classic hits from artists like Prince and Janet Jackson. "Rarely do I hear a new song that makes me go, 'Oh, I want to dance to that!'"

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Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Andy Mogg, courtesy of Marin Ballet

As a young student, Becky Erhart Moore did not go on pointe with the rest of her class. "My teacher felt I wasn't ready, so I wore flat shoes when everyone else wore pointe shoes," she says. "My mom had to deal with my tears for weeks!" Moore, who is now artistic coordinator and faculty member at Marin Ballet in California, says that the setback she experienced as a child motivated her to work even harder. "When I finally went up on pointe with my class, it was that much sweeter."

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Just like your car, your studio needs periodic tune-ups to keep it humming along smoothly. If you take the time to address a few small fixes, your business will stand out. And you don't have to break the bank, either—you might be surprised how low-cost, DIY improvements can make a surprising difference.

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Students in Pulinkala's Cocoon. Photo by Robert Pack, courtesy of Kennesaw State

When Ivan Pulinkala was preparing for his interview at Kennesaw State University to create the school's first dance program, he figured the whole thing would be a lark, at best. After all, the New Delhi–born choreographer had just gotten his green card, which meant he could teach anywhere, and Kennesaw, Georgia (a half-hour outside of Atlanta), wasn't his first choice as a location. But after doing a scan of collegiate dance in Georgia, he began to change his mind. "I thought, 'Wow, if someone starts a big dance program at a public institution, the market's wide open,'" says Pulinkala. "There were some good programs, like Emory University, but they were niche—private and expensive."

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To Share With Students
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When your students graduate and move to the big city to pursue their dreams, they'll almost immediately discover that there's a void left where your studio once was. Not only will they miss your instruction and daily support, but they'll miss having a physical space to work through challenging movement, polish their technique and improv with no one watching. Help them with their adjustment period by telling them about the studio spaces they can rent out when they need some one-on-one time with the mirror and the music.

Here are five for you to share with them—you're welcome!

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Gabriel Figueredo in a variation from Raymonda. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.

This week, more than 1,000 young hopefuls gathered in New York City for the Youth America Grand Prix finals, giving them the chance to compete for scholarships and contracts to some of the world's top ballet schools and companies. Roughly 85 dancers made it to the final round at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater on Wednesday. Today, the 20th anniversary of YAGP came to a close at the competition's awards ceremony. Read on to find out who won!

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Dance Teacher Tips
Photos by Kyle Froman

A few years ago, Mary Ann Lamb got a phone call from Ann Reinking, who was choreographing a production of The Visit starring Chita Rivera. Lamb was thrilled when Reinking offered her the role of Young Claire without even asking for an audition. "And then she said, 'In the first act, you're going to play Chita Rivera when she's a 17-year-old virgin,'" Lamb says, "and I'm like, 'What am I gonna do? I'm like 50 years old!' I started panicking. My dream was to be in the room with Ann Reinking and Chita Rivera, but I was scared to death I was going to make a fool of myself."

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Dancer Health
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Q: A student of mine recently got a bad sprained ankle, and it's been weak ever since she returned to class. Are there any exercises you suggest to strengthen it?

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"WOD" is back for Season 3, and once again, the internet is loving it! How much do they love it, you ask? Well they've watched many of the dances millions of times, so it's safe to say—A WHOLE LOT! We did some research and discovered which dances have been watched the most since Season 3's premiere, and the results may surprise you.

Here are the top-four most viewed "WOD" videos of the season so far! Let us know your favorite over on our Facebook page!

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When it comes to running a thriving dance studio, Cindy Clough knows what she's talking about. As executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner for more than four decades, she's all too aware of the unique challenges the job presents, from teaching to scheduling to managing employees and clients.

Here, Clough shares her best advice for new studio owners, and the answers to some common questions that come up when you're getting started.

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Q: As a dance teacher, which products do you prefer, Apple or Google?

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Just for fun
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The one thing that can unite all of us on April 15 is the fact that everyone hates doing their taxes. Though they are necessary, they are exhausting and time-consuming, and just plain no fun for anyone!

To help you cope, we've captured what doing taxes feels like through a series of dancer memes.

YOU'RE WELCOME!

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