Time Out for Dance

There is a small electronics store inside the Times Square subway station here in New York City that has a TV in the window. This may sound hard to believe, but the TV usually features footage of ballroom dance competitions to attract visitors—and it seems to be working out quite well.
    It goes without saying that New York is one of the busiest cities in the world—people are often in a rush for no other reason than to get from point A to point B. So it never ceases to amaze me just how many New Yorkers stop to watch dance on this TV—in Times Square of all places, certainly one of the busier spots in the Big Apple.
    Of course, live dance always draws a crowd, too. I’ve seen some amazing break dancers, tappers and dance battles on the streets of this city. If you live in a major city, try to appreciate just how much dance you see around you all the time. And if you don’t, dance is still in so many places: on TV, online and in ads. Have you seen the Nissan commercial where cars are dance battling? Or how about Target’s back-to-school ad that showed two college roommates dancing as they decorated their dorm? Dance is everywhere!

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 onstageblog.com, 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
Getty Images

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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