What a View

When out-of-town visitors attend Kat Wildish’s class at The Ailey Studios, she likes to suggest they have their photo taken in the corner window. From six floors up, the view of New York City is iconic. Yes, for a serious recreational adult dancer, dropping in on Wildish’s class is as much a part of a visit to The Big Apple as the Statue of Liberty for a tourist of another ilk. In fact, when we attended the adult beginning ballet class for the DT cover shoot, Wildish told me that one woman is even planning to take a sabbatical from her job to study for 12 weeks in NYC, leading up to one of Wildish’s popular Performing in NY Showcases. “It’s a dream to perform in New York,” says Wildish, who produces the Showcase three times a year, including an excerpt of a classical work for her ballet students, plus a roster of guest choreographers and companies. The Showcase is part of her unique brand as a freelance teacher. In “The Freelance Zone,” you’ll hear from her and eight others on how they manage their careers.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are the committed studio owners who manage businesses in addition to teaching dance. They invest in location, staff and progressive curriculum for their students. They manage relationships with costume vendors, competition companies and parents. We hear all too frequently that these dance teachers turned businesspeople struggle with guilt about running a profitable business. In “Quit Apologizing for Making Money,” Carole Royal of Royal Dance Works talks about her own personal struggle and how she resolved it. She’s an inspiration!

Kat Wildish adds to the view from the sixth floor of The Ailey Studios.

February is the month when we focus on career advice in Dance Teacher. Whether you’re a business owner or independent instructor, or work in K–12 or the university setting, you’ll find something in this issue for you.

  • In “The Social Divide,” K–12 dance teachers run International Dance Clubs to help build community among diverse student populations.
  • In “Private Lessons,” Julie Diana shares tips about making your time count in this growing component of a dance teacher’s portfolio.
  • College dancers and choreographers begin gathering this month at regional conferences for the American College Dance Festival Association. In “Face to Face,” Gerri Houlihan relates her experiences on the adjudication panel.

Don’t forget to nominate your colleagues and mentors for the annual Dance Teacher Awards before March 1. We will honor four educators at the 2014 Dance Teacher Summit in NYC. For more information, see dance-teacher.com (DT Awards/Nominate).

Photos (from top) by Matthew Murphy; Kyle Froman
Teacher Voices
Getty Images

I often teach ballet over Zoom in the evenings, shortly after sunset. Without the natural light coming from my living room window, I drag a table lamp next to my portable barre so that the computer's camera can see me clearly enough. I prop the laptop on a chair taken from the kitchen and then spend the next few hours running back and forth between the computer screen of Zoom tiles and my makeshift dance floor.

Much of this setup is the result of my attempts to recreate the most important aspects of an in-person dance studio: I have a barre, a floor and as much space as I can reasonably give myself within a small apartment. I do not, however, have a mirror, and neither do most of my students.

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Allie Burke, courtesy Lo Cascio

If you'd hear it on the radio, you won't hear it in Anthony Lo Cascio's tap classes.

"If I play a song that my kids know, I'm kind of disappointed in myself," he says. "I either want to be on the cutting edge or playing the classics."

He finds that most of today's trendy tracks lack the depth needed for tap, and that there's a disconnect between kids and popular music. "They have trouble finding the beat compared to older genres," he says.

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Teachers Trending
Courtesy Lovely Leaps

After the birth of her daughter in 2018, engineer Lisa McCabe had reservations about returning to the workforce full-time. And while she wanted to stay home with the new baby, she wasn't ready to stop contributing financially to her family (after all, she'd had a successful career designing cables for government drones). So, when she got a call that September from an area preschool to lead its dance program, she saw an opportunity.

The invitation to teach wasn't completely out of the blue. McCabe had grown up dancing in Southern California and had a great reputation from serving as her church's dance teacher and team coach the previous three years (stopping only to take a break as a new mother). She agreed to teach ballet and jazz at the preschool on Fridays and from there created an age-appropriate class based on her own training in the Cecchetti and RAD methods. It was a success: In three months, class enrollment went from six to 24 students, and just one year later, McCabe's blossoming Lovely Leaps brand had contracts with eight preschools and three additional teachers.

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