For many of our readers, summer is a time to slow down, maybe even take some time off. And so it seemed like perfect timing to suggest using the slower months of summer to look inward and do some personal maintenance.Read More
It’s a new year, always a good time to think about where we’ve been and where we’re going. As dancers and dance teachers, you’ve probably got creativity on your mind—and that leads to a question you might not ask yourself very often: why make art?Read More
In certain realms of the world, coaches are a given: baseball, gymnastics, personal fitness, career changes, opera, to name a few. So why is it that most of us get to a certain level of competence in our chosen careers and then figure we’re on our own?Read More
When does dance become art? I think it’s when it touches your soul.Read More
By Cheryl Ossola and Karen White Are We Having Fun Yet? This summer at the DanceLife Teacher Conference I was reminded of a good practice that’s easy to forget: if you want to engage people—in just about anything—make it fun. I can thank Dance Studio Life editorial assistant Arisa White for tuning in to that…Read More
I’m a dance mom. In some circles, that’s a pretty ugly title, like “ax murderer” or “crazy cat lady.” But it’s true, and since they say admitting your weakness is the first step to a new you, there it is.Read More
Late summer brings a sense of renewal as dance schools everywhere gear up for the next academic year of developing young artists.Read More
Years ago, I was chatting with a veteran teacher at a dance convention. We were newly acquainted, so we were trading info on what we did and people we knew. I happened to mention that I did a lot of work with community theater groups, and this woman rolled her eyes. “Oh, I know those kind of jobs,” she said. “You do all the work and get no pay at all.”Read More
Dance teachers have it tough, and I’m not talking about their work in the classroom. What’s really a challenge is dealing with the ignorance of students’ parents and those outside of the dance community, for whom dance—ballet in particular—is mysterious and overly romanticized, the stuff of dreams involving ethereal beauty, personal sacrifice, and unexpected love.Read More
In this issue we asked dozens of people to share their thoughts on how to define that ever-elusive dance form, contemporary. But the fact that we even try to put parameters on an art form got me thinking. Human beings like labels.Read More
Reading Bruce Marks’ comments in this issue (Ballet Scene: A Phenomenal Life, page 66) about the rough-and-tumble Boston Ballet before he signed on as director brought back a flood of memories.Read More
Last November I saw a performance by butoh troupe Sankai Juku that got me thinking about something we rarely do in our speeded-up world: slow down.Read More
Dance teachers seem to be well aware of their potential to influence their students, both as developing dancers and maturing human beings. But there’s a theory called the “butterfly effect” that might be worth thinking about in terms of teaching dance.Read More
I’m writing this right after chatting with British choreographer Wayne McGregor, artistic director of Wayne McGregor | Random Dance and resident choreographer at The Royal Ballet.Read More
Throughout my adolescence, I wanted to dance but couldn’t because I needed to help out at home after school. I am the oldest daughter of seven children. I have a sister with developmental disabilities; it was my responsibility to make sure she got off the school bus and had a snack before our mother got home from work.Read More
You hear it all the time, from studio owners and competition directors: competing isn’t about winning; it’s about the experience. About learning, teamwork, developing stage presence, testing your limits, finding out whether you’re a minnow or a giant koi in the big pond of the competition arena. All good stuff.Read More
Flash mobs. Specifically, dance flash mobs. They’re all over YouTube, and judging by the frequency with which people on Facebook link to them, they’re as popular with non-dance folks as with dancerly types. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re missing out on some big fun.Read More
The ABCs of Image
I hear a lot of talk about professionalism these days. I doubt I could find a dance teacher or school owner who doesn’t claim to have the training, experience, credibility, and expertise that we associate with being a professional. But even when you’ve got all those attributes, you need one more thing: presentation. If you make yourself look careless or uninformed—or even worse, uneducated—you’ve blown that professional image to smithereens.
I’ve been listening to an intro to psychology course, taught by Yale University professor Paul Bloom and offered through iTunes U. It’s fun, and I’ve learned a lot. But I didn’t make any direct correlations between the course material and teaching dance until I got to Lecture 17: Self and Other, Part II. About nine minutes in, Bloom mentioned something called the “Pygmalion effect.” Bingo.Read More
Most people have dreamed of traveling back in time. For Christmas, I did just that.
For an afternoon I was perched once again in a nosebleed seat in San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House on a miserably hot July 17, 1988, for an eye-opening performance of Le Sacre du Printemps. My much-younger self was a perfect match for Louis Armstrong’s recollection of his own boyhood—“I didn’t know nothing and didn’t even suspect much”—and I’d never seen anything like this before.Read More
Call it a sign of the times, a response to the sorry state of the economy. But I’ve noticed some marketing methods and “value-added” efforts by major ballet companies that boost their own visibility and image while promoting creativity in others.
Most choreographers aren’t big on talking about their work, preferring to let the movement speak for itself. Still, getting inside a choreographer’s head is fascinating, whether it’s through his or her own words or through someone with intimate knowledge of that person. And that’s what made “The Balanchine Couple” especially riveting. I saw this program by Suzanne Farrell Ballet at UC–Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall last October, presented by Cal Performances. If you’re wondering why an all-duet program, Farrell would have answered your question when she called the pas de deux “the reason for a ballet.”Read More