We're Dancers, Not Crazy. We Swear.

I was on the train home from work last night, nose buried in my book, when something made me look up. Nothing alarming, possibly just a clang or a loud sneeze. But then I spotted her: A young, notable choreographer, sitting across from me on the subway. (You can find out who it was, here, and read about her latest work with students.) She wasn't reading or playing solitaire on her phone; just sitting quietly with her hands dancing about in light gestures. By the complexity of movement and repetition, it became pretty clear she was working out a new phrase. She was also deep in thought; she looked as though not only was she trying to remember the sequence, but also thinking about what it would look like from the outside and how it would fit in within a larger whole. It was fascinating, to say the least.


And though her arm movements were contained enough to fit within the spatial allotment of a subway seat, people noticed. It was rush hour, after all. I started looking at the onlookers' faces. Most looked confused, with a hint of wary. Was she on drugs? Was she nuts? What on Earth was this woman doing with her hands on the subway in the middle of rush hour? I wanted to yell, "She's working! Leave her alone! She's not crazy!" But instead, I kept watching this beautiful hand dance until we both exited the train.


As choreographers, dancers and teachers, maybe we're all a little nuts. I often work out my class combinations on the train, and I've choreographed most of my recital pieces in my living room. But since I'm usually the dancer, I've never given a thought to what it looks like from the perspective of normal people. Have you? Where's the strangest place that you've choreographed? Standing in line at the grocery store? Pharmacy? At the pool?



Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

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Dancer Diary
Claire, McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

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Mary Mallaney/USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, 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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