General

March-April 2017 | Costumes Count

by Tiffany R. Jansen (with additional reporting by Karen White)

Costumes are often the first thing audiences notice about a piece, even before movement begins. Quite often, “costumer” is one of the many hats that studio teachers must wear. We asked several teachers/directors how they approach costuming their contemporary dance competition students and performing companies.

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March-April 2017 | A Step Ahead

by Karen White

The educational power of movement serves as the foundation of Locally Grown, a residency program through which Fusionworks Dance Company uses modern dance to take schoolchildren on an academic journey into subjects such as marine life, immigration, haiku, and earthquakes.

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March-April 2017 | Exploring Contemporary Dance

by Heather Wisner

If you want to add contemporary dance to your studio’s schedule, your first task might be to ask yourself, “What exactly is contemporary dance?” It may sound like a silly question, but ask five different studio owners and teachers and you’ll get five different answers.

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March-April 2017 | Cool & Contemporary

by Thom Watson

In wide-ranging conversations about contemporary dance, DSL asked celebrated choreographers Tyce Diorio, Teddy Forance, Mia Michaels, and Derrick Schrader how they define the genre, the pros and cons of making dance in an age when dance videos are ubiquitous online, where they find inspiration for their work, and how they approach choreographing and staging contemporary dance. We also asked for their advice for dance teachers in hometown studios.

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February 2017 | Learning in Reel Time

by Karen White

Dance intensives are called that for a reason—generally, a lot of learning is crammed into a limited time. The dancers are expected to rise to the occasion—fast—in an unfamiliar atmosphere where everything from experiencing new movement to finding the bathroom can prove challenging.

Dancers who spend one, two, or three weeks of their summer with the bicoastal School of Creative and Performing Arts (SOCAPA) tackle all that—plus they perform in one or more professional-quality dance videos.

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February 2017 | Tapping Into Fitness

by Ryan P. Casey

What if the trick to getting more people to tap dance was getting them to attend a fitness class?

That’s the premise behind Sole Power, a tap workout program Riverdance alumnus Aaron Tolson conceived in 2013 that fuses basic tap dance with cardio and strengthening exercises.

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February 2017 | A New Look at Nia

by Bonner Odell

A fusion of dance, martial arts, and healing arts, Nia is a cardio fitness technique performed barefoot to music from around the world. Through a mix of simple choreography and guided improvisation, Nia instructors emphasize sensation and internal experience over outward aesthetics in an effort to cultivate awareness of one’s body, mind, emotions, and life as a whole.

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February 2017 | Rhythm Works Wonders

by Karen White

Guided by occupational therapists, early childhood development specialists, and pediatric physical therapists, Gomez created a system for teaching hip-hop that could be understood by students with learning differences and special needs and that could help these students reach some of the physical, social, and cognitive goals set by their medical teams.

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February 2017 | GirlPower!

by Bonner Odell

There is one group that is especially close to Susanne Liebich’s heart and to whom she owes the idea to start Dancing Wellness: adolescent girls. She created her first wellness program, which she named GirlPower!, just for them.

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January 2017 | Going Global

by Bonner Odell

The World Dance program at Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts is only a month and a half old, but clearly this class has hit its groove.

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January 2017 | Teaching Traditions

by Constance Hale

Native Hawaiians often express their way of learning in a neat trio of verbs: ho‘onana, ho‘olohe, ho‘opili (“watch,” “listen,” “imitate”). Whatever the craft, the idea is the same: find a master, open your eyes and ears, and if you don’t get it quite right, trust your teacher to correct you.

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January 2017 | Igniting the Soul

by Joseph Carman

When flamenco artist Carlota Santana demonstrates her snaking arms, articulate fingers, fiery footwork, stalking strides, and laser-like gaze for observers at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, she evokes the ancient echoes of Gypsies in Andalusia. The pride and passion of her flamenco moves ignite the soul. Santana has produced numerous flamenco symposiums at Duke University, but they represent only a fraction of her efforts to share the technique and cultural aspects of this art form through performance and instruction.

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December 2016 | Ballet Scene | Crossing Boundaries

by Heather Wisner

When My-Linh Le watches turfers at work, she sees the grace, fluidity, and balance of ballet—no small feat, considering that turfers often perform their style of street dance aboard San Francisco Bay Area BART trains, busking for donations in cramped and unsteady spaces. “Turfers tend to get [up] on their toes,” she says, “and they like to do spins.”

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December 2016 | Onstage Nationwide

From winter competitions to summer national galas to fall intensives, there are exciting learning and growing opportunities for dancers of any age. In our annual listing, you’ll find the right fit from among nearly 125 competitions and conventions, ranging from old favorites to intriguing new options.

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December 2016 | Grassroots to Mainstream

by Steve Sucato

The occasion was Regional Dance America’s 2016 Northeast Festival, held June 2 to 4, 2016. It was a homecoming of sorts—in 1960 Erie had hosted the second Northeast Regional Ballet Association Festival (NERBA, now known as Regional Dance America). And that predecessor of this year’s event was a seminal moment in the grassroots regional dance movement in the United States.

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December 2016 | Raw and Awesome

by Joseph Carman

As a dance form, hip-hop emerged from the streets, and its spontaneity, energy, and individuality reinforce its appeal. So when you place hip-hop in concert form, as choreographer Lorenzo “Rennie” Harris has done successfully for 25 years, it’s vital to retain that freshness while instilling it with discipline and stagecraft. Enter Rennie Harris Awe-Inspiring Works (RHAW), a second company to the acclaimed Rennie Harris Puremovement.

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December 2016 | Jazz Hands-On

by Karen White

Questions about what jazz dance is, where it lives, who does it and why drove discussions at the conference, Jazz Dance: Roots and Branches in Practice, held July 21 to August 3 in Newport, Rhode Island, hosted by the dance program at Salve Regina University. Hailed by attendees as a rare opportunity for educators, historians, choreographers, and master teachers to come together in celebration of jazz dance, the conference addressed not only the jazz lexicon but issues of race, relatability, and respect that impact how the art form is taught and viewed.

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December 2016 | Power of the Page

by Josie Bray and Richard Kent

Though journaling may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of training dancers, teachers across the country use writing as a tool to help their dance students improve both technique and performance.

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December 2016 | Champs and Change Agents

by Bonner Odell

Backstage at the 2016 World of Dance competition in Orlando, Florida, Davina Pasiewicz gathered Chicago-based hip-hop crew The Puzzle League in a pre-performance huddle. “This is not about winning a trophy,” Pasiewicz, the crew’s executive director, told the 35 dancers. “This is about communicating a message bigger than ourselves. If we accomplish that, we will have already won.”

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November 2016 | Bringing Dance to Boomers

by Joseph Carman

Every seven and a half seconds, a baby boomer turns 60—which means dance classes for senior citizens can be viewed as a growth industry. By 2020, 35 percent of the U.S. population will be age 50 or older, and that’s an age group that gravitates toward movement, dance, and fitness activities.

Savvy dance teachers around the country have created programs for elders. Whether the genre is improvisation, Zumba, chair dance, ballet, or cardio-based movement, senior citizens are making dance a vital part of their lives.

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November 2016 | Curtain Calls & Bedtime Stories

by Bonner Odell

Any young dancer who contemplates a career in dance will get plenty of cautionary advice. From the modest salary to the relatively short stage career, there are real considerations that well-meaning elders can be quick to point out. But there’s one piece of advice that PeiJu Chien-Pott, a soloist with Martha Graham Dance Company, has found to be downright wrong.

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November 2016 | Magnificent Movement

by Karen White

When Alicia Jonas first taught preschool classes, she found herself on her own. Curriculum, format, music, expectations—all were left up to her by studio owners who offered little guidance.

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