Who's Feeling the Recession?

I went with Courtney to UDMA the other weekend and had a great time catching up with everyone—costume and shoe vendors, event organizers, studio owners attending the show, you name it.

Aside from the regular chitchat, though, I had a very specific agenda: I wanted to find out how everyone was doing in this recession we’re facing. Most people spoke to me in confidence, but I will say that the overall attitude was very much “let's wait and see.”

Some manufacturers reported sales slowing down, but not by very much—yet. Others said that the decline in domestic business was being offset by international sales. Still others were seeing different stock moving differently—for example, an uptick in cheaper, more generic items rather than the more elaborate costumes. Vendors on the whole seemed to be cautious, but accepting and prepared.

The studio owners I talked to seemed to be doing just fine, but I wonder how much of that recession-proof success has to do with where they’re located (affluent suburbs). What if you’re in a rural area? Or inner city? I imagine everyone, even those fortunate enough to be riding things out so far, are busy thinking of ways to save, save, save.

This is something I’d really love to hear about from all of you out there. Have your parents been coming to you with tuition concerns? Have you had students drop out? How are you attempting to cost-cut around the studio? Send me an e-mail at jtu@dancemedia.com.

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Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

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Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

Christy Funsch's teaching career has taken her from New York City to the Bay Area to Portugal, with a stint in a punk band in between. But this fall—fresh off a Fulbright in Portugal at the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, School of Dance (ESD), teaching and researching empathetic embodiment through somatic dance training—Funsch's teaching has taken her to an entirely new location: Zoom. A visiting professor at Slippery Rock University for the 2020–21 academic year, Funsch is adapting her eclectic, boundary-pushing approach to her virtual classes.

Originally from central New York State, Funsch spent 20 years performing in the Bay Area, where she also started her own company, Funsch Dance Experience. "My choreographic work from that time is in the dance-theater experiential, fantasy realm of performance," she says. "I also started blending genres and a lot of urban styles found their way into my choreography."

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Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

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