January 2015 | EditorSpeak

Photos by Chris Hardy

Photos by Chris Hardy


It’s January, a month named for Janus, the Roman god of doors and gates. And, because Janus is two-faced, gazing both ahead and back, he rules over beginnings and endings.

On the threshold of a new year, we too can pause to look in both directions. Look back at the year fading into the distance—regard accomplishments and missteps, discoveries and validations, pleasures and pains. Then we can turn our backs on where we’ve been and look to the future. Whatever your goals and hopes and dreams, the Dance Studio Life editorial staff wishes you success and, more important, growth. There is so much potential in each of us.

The new year brings changes to Dance Studio Life as we continue to fill our pages with information that will serve and challenge you as teachers and business owners. First, we’ve grown. We have a new managing editor, Thom Watson, and a new associate editor, Tamsin Nutter, and both are bringing fresh ideas and perspectives to the magazine.

Also new are two of our Tips columnists. Writing our modern dance tips is Toni Pierce-Sands, a former soloist with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and a proponent of Horton technique. The co-founder and co-artistic director of TU Dance in Saint Paul, Minnesota, she also heads the School at TU Dance Center and teaches at the University of Minnesota, where she directs University Dance Theater. She’ll be delving into tips for contemporary dance as well as codified modern techniques.

To give you hip-hop advice, we’ve signed on Anthony “Ynot” DeNaro, a b-boy from Philadelphia recommended to us by Geo Hubela. A member of the Rock Steady Crew, he studied with Crazy Legs and Mr. Wiggles and is now working toward an MFA in dance at Arizona State University.

A new department debuts this month. Called “Moving Images,” it features noteworthy dance videos and will run periodically.

We hope you enjoy these dance riches. Do let us know—we love to hear from you. —Cheryl A. Ossola


Catching a Wave, Dancing the Dance

It wasn’t long ago that my middle-aged back and hip decided they were done dancing. The moment had come when pain outweighed the joy and satisfaction of dancing, and I stopped taking class. It was devastating.        

Although I still sometimes feel bereft, I am lucky enough to have another love (besides my family) in my life. I took up this activity several years ago, doing it only occasionally. But when I quit dancing I needed something to take the place of dance—the thing that had been my job for many years, and which continued to be my greatest joy for many more after that.

I found it: surfing. And it’s remarkably like dancing.

Learning how to read a wave to determine where it’s going to break, how hard to paddle for it, and when to pop up on your board takes time and patience and a willingness to fail, repeatedly. Like the many years of early dance training, the learning process can seem endless and frustrating. But, also like dance, it holds endless rewards and pleasures.

Facing the terror that strikes when a too-large wave is bearing down on you is much like conquering a particularly searing bout of stage fright; you simply have to learn how to handle the perceived (or real) danger, and when you do, you come out stronger.

And the artistry—in surfing it’s maneuvering gracefully, turning elegantly or on a dime, slowing down and speeding up on the wave. I’m learning, and I’m definitely not there yet. But I will be. I’m working doggedly, the way our teachers told us we’d have to if we wanted to do this thing called dancing.

Catching a wave is like dancing the dance—when it’s caught you or you’ve caught it, nothing else exists. You’re in it, and you’re moving, and your body is a wondrous thing. —Lisa Okuhn

DSL editor in chief Cheryl A. Ossola is a former Dance Magazine associate editor and a freelance writer for San Francisco Ballet. She holds an MFA in writing from the University of San Francisco.

DSL associate editor Lisa Okuhn is a writer and a former dancer with Laura Dean Dancers and Musicians, ODC/Dance, and others. She founded arts-focused Okuhn Public Relations.