Will it be a "Smash?"

"Smash's" first episode already set up all those "feel good" moments you expect from primetime television. The characters you want are there: A naive transplant from the Midwest waiting tables to continue auditioning, a Broadway-working chorus member attempting to rise through the ranks, disapproving parents, the jerk choreographer who tries to play the "sleep with me to get the part" card and the writer whose family wants her to settle down, but she just can't stay away. The characters are cliché and a bit too obvious, but you can't help but see yourself in at least one of them.

My biggest question is how each episode will sustain the Broadway belting, "behind-the-scenes" musical element without turning into a "Glee" copycat.  And what happens to the basic storyline after they pick a Marilyn?  My predictions are that Karen gets to play Marilyn, Ivy turns coldly competitive (because though she's perfectly likeable now, there always has to be a bad guy), Julia gets into some tricky musical versus marriage clashes and Tom continues to be, well, inappropriate. I hope I'm wrong, but that soft "feel good" spot in me also hopes that I'm a little right.

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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Courtesy Shake the Ground

Dance competitions were among the first events to be shut down when the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in the U.S. in mid-March, and they've been among the last able to restart.

So much of the traditional structure of the competition—large groups of dancers and parents from dozens of different studios; a new city every week—simply won't work in our new pandemic world.

How, then, have competitions been getting by, and what does the future look like?

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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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