We've Got the Inside Scoop on This Year's 17 Capezio A.C.E. Awards Finalists

Hundreds of entries. 17 finalists. Only 1 winner. Who will be named this year's Capezio A.C.E. Awards champion?

On Saturday, August 5, (right smack in the middle of our Dance Teacher Summit) Summit) one choreographer will receive $15,000 to go towards a future show of his or her choreography and join the ranks of Martha Nichols, Travis Wall and Al Blackstone. (First and second runner-ups receive $5,000 and $3,000, respectively, to go towards their shows.) Many of these choreographers were finalists last year, and several have been on our minds lately. Click each name to watch the choreography that got them to finalist status—and weigh in on the comments section if you've got dirt of your own on these fabulously talented dancemakers.

1. Rudy Abreu

He's already choreographed a music video for Derek Hough—what could possibly top that?

2. Courtney Barclay

3. MaryAnn Chavez

4. Phil Colgan

5. Mitchel Federan

Federan's Instagram is on point with incredible class combos. Watch and see:

6. Jared Jenkins

7. Will Johnston/Marissa Osato

When Johnston isn't choreographing, he's breaking our hearts with his smooth moves—like in this Tyce Diorio duet:

8. Renee Kester

Remember that video that went viral of a couple dancing on a train platform? Kestler is one half of that duet, so we know she has the dancing chops to go all the way:

9. Erica Marr

10. Maggie Miller

11. Lukas McFarlane

12. Yusuf Nasir

13. Sabrina Phillip

14. Terry Tansey Schulke

15. Akira Uchida

16. Andrea Ward

17. Nick Young

If Young sounds familiar, that's because his tap numbers for "So You Think You Can Dance" have been a big hit. He definitely tells a story with every number he choreographs, like this one:

Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

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Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

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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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