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Posts Tagged ‘dance’

NYC Companies Challenge Young Audiences through Experimental ‘Victory Dance’

Ballet Hispanico at Victory Dance; photo by Paula Lobo for the New York Times

Ballet Hispanico at Victory Dance;
photo by Paula Lobo for the New York Times

A new three-week “experiment” called Victory Dance invites schoolchildren from grades 5 to 11 from summer schools, day camps, and homeless shelters to the New Victory Theater in New York City to view top artists such as Keigwin + Company and Ronald K. Brown/Evidence present dances they normally present to adult audiences.

“We don’t do what people think of as children’s theater,” said Cora Cahan, president of New 42nd Street, the theater’s nonprofit parent, told the New York Times. “We don’t even use that phrase.”

Mary Rose Lloyd, the theater’s director of artistic programming, explained that it’s work “that doesn’t speak down to children but that will excite them.” As she discussed with participating artists which pieces they might bring, she kept having similar conversations: “They would show me work and say, ‘We couldn’t do this,’ and I would say, ‘You can do more than you think.’ ”

After a morning show last week, dancers and choreographers gathered to discuss the experience, which included a question and answer session and movement activities for the students. Monica Bill Barnes, who hadn’t performed much for children before, said it was a pleasure “because I feel like they haven’t learned not to react.” She continued, “As a performer, I’m trying to understand the work by reading the audience. With kids, you hear this inner monologue on how it’s going.”

Sarah East Johnson, the artistic director of Lava, an all-female troupe of dancer-acrobats, said that she was most excited by the opportunity to open up possibilities for how children might understand dance and themselves.

“Kids are my favorite audience,” said Lil Buck, talking with the other performers. “I love to hear their reactions, because it’s not just a reaction. You’re putting something in their heads. You’re changing their minds.”

To read the full story, visit



Glee’s Harry Shum Jr. Video Series Asks: Is Dance a Sport, and Vice Versa?

“Parallels;” image courtesy Red Bull

“Parallels;” image courtesy Red Bull

A new video series by dancer, actor, and choreographer Harry Shum, Jr. (Glee, Step Up 2) draws parallels between disparate dance forms and extreme/action sports, utilizing slow motion to pinpoint the striking similarities between both genres, both in movement and approach.

Shum became interested in comparing dance to sports after viewing a 1958 TV special where Gene Kelley used the moves of top athletes such as baseball star Mickey Mantle and boxer Sugar Ray Robinson to choreograph dance routines, while also teaching the athletes to dance.

Shum teamed up with filmmaker Cole Walliser to create the series, “Parallels,” which looks at how control, rhythm, grace, timing, strength, and balance are present in movement whether one is a dancer or an athlete.

In one video, ballerina Kylie Lewallen’s jetés are juxtaposed with freestyle motocross biker Alexey Kolesnikov’s mid-air moves. In another, the themes of rhythm and balance are explored through similar moves that b-boy Kid David and skateboarder Johnny Johannes can execute.

“I think all movement is interconnected and the only thing that separates it is the intention behind it,” Shum said. “Ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov . . . no one can deny his incredible athletic abilities, and the artistry behind athletes like Michael Jordan can be clearly seen when you take the ball out of the equation. I hope this sparks a conversation . . . ‘Is dance a sport and is sport an art form?’ ”

To view the videos, visit:
• Exploring “Parallels:”,
• Grace—Ballet vs Freestyle Motocross:
• Control—Acrobatic Dancing/Tricking vs BMX Riding:
• Rhythm—B-Boying vs Skateboarding:



Dancers’ Job Opportunities Vary from East Coast to West Coast

TV series Debbie Allen and Benjamin Allen; photo courtesy SAG Foundation

TV series Debbie Allen and Benjamin Allen;
photo courtesy SAG Foundation

While it may still be easier for New York dancers to break into the industry, the number of commercial jobs available in Los Angeles is rising, experts say.

Debbie Allen, often advises students at her Los Angeles studio to go east when they start looking for work. “There are musicals, there’s Off-Broadway, there’s Off-Off-Broadway. We just don’t have the theater expansion in L.A.,” she told Backstage before a recent SAG Foundation event. “Most of the work here is cinema.”

She noted that films like Step Up and such as Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance have given dancers opportunities in Hollywood. But for those starting out, the opportunities are limited.

In New York, meanwhile, even scripted series such as HBO’s Boardwalk Empire hire dancers. “You can hustle in New York, you can’t get on the lot [in L.A.],” said Allen. “You could go into an audition, look at the man at the stage door and say, ‘Please, I need to see Bob Fosse, he’ll just love me.’ That can happen in New York. Doesn’t happen here. Your name has to be on a list. It’s tough.”

It might be tough to get on the lot for TV and film in Los Angeles, but the city is seeing a boom in commercial work, according to Benjamin Allen, a dancer and choreographer who runs a company called GROOV3.

“Those opportunities come up a lot,” he said. “Broadway shows have long runs so when that spot opens up, someone gets a job for that one spot and then has that for months and months or a year or two or three years. Here you do an episode of this, you do one-off shows, maybe an awards show.”

The challenge then isn’t finding the work in L.A.—it’s finding enough of it to sustain a career.

To see the original story, visit



Seven Illinois Studios Strive to Raise $5,000 for Drea’s Dream

RippleFX; logo by Ken Garnhart

RippleFX; logo by Ken Garnhart

Seven northern Illinois dance studios have come together to host RippleFX, a dance performance with the goal of raising $5,000 to help establish a Drea’s Dream dance/movement therapy program at a local area hospital.

More than 100 dancers are scheduled to perform in the show, set for August 16 at 2pm at Harlem High School in Machesney Park, Illinois. Participating schools include DanceFX, Evolve Dance Company, Mary Lee’s School of Dance, Resilience Dance Company, Rockford Dance Company, Steps to Grace Dance Academy, and Turning Pointe Dance Company.

RippleFX is open to the public. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and $2 for children ages 2 to 5 (under 2 free) and can be purchased at the door. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the event will benefit Dance Across America, is one of many fundraising efforts created by The Andréa Rizzo Foundation, a non-profit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization dedicated to bringing dance therapy to children with cancer and special needs in pediatric hospitals, public schools, and Ronald McDonald houses across the country.

For more information, visit




Mark Morris Seeks to Harness Benefits of Parkinson’s Therapy in an App

Dance with Parkinson’s; photo by Rosalie O’Connor

Dance with Parkinson’s; photo by Rosalie O’Connor

The Mark Morris Dance Group is designing software that will bring their dance-therapy techniques into people’s homes through the use of Google Glass head-mounted smartphones.

MMDG, which has been running dance-therapy classes for 13 years, won a $25,000 grant in early July to come up with a Google Glass app to help Parkinson’s sufferers, said the Brooklyn [NY] Paper.

“We’re thinking about ways we can expand what we do in the dance class beyond the studio,” said David Leventhal, program director of Dance for PD, a collaboration between MMDG and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group.

Leventhal’s program already offers a DVD of its routines, but he thinks that Glass, which can be controlled using voice commands or a touchpad located on the side of the glasses, will free up people’s hands and allow them to do the exercises wherever and whenever they want.

Pamela Quinn, a Parkinson’s patient who runs a therapy class and helped with the initial planning of the Glass project, said the practice and pace provided by dance instruction works as therapy and as a coping mechanism for the acute onset of symptoms.

“One of the many ways in which Parkinson’s affects you is that it affects the way you move—your posture, your stride, your balance,” Quinn said. “Dance is an art form that deals with these very issues” by helping people focus on their bodies, and by providing a rhythm to move to.

Google issued the grant as part of a contest that garnered 1,300 applications. The marketing company SS+K is helping MMDG engineer the software. “Google is trying to push boundaries,” said Kevin Skobac, who works on digital strategy for SS+K, said. “They want people to explore how we can use these things.”

To read the full story, visit



New Dance Film Opens Video Casting Call on August 15

Untapped; image courtesy Facebook

Untapped; image courtesy Facebook

An open video casting call will begin accepting submissions August 15 for Untapped, an inspirational dance film about hope, healing, and self-empowerment.

Brothers Young Productions of Atlanta said that Untapped is scheduled to begin production in early 2015. The movie follows the journey of a teenage girl overcoming emotional and physical struggles after the death of her parents who discovers dance to be the expressive outlet she needs to find her inner strength.

Set to direct is Janlatae Mullins, Best Director at the 2014 Black Women Film Festival. “This story is a resuscitation of the heart,” she said. “It reminds those that feel lifeless that they can be revived, greatness is for them, and they can be loved.”

The open casting call will seek to fill several roles ranging in age, gender, and appearance. Submission guidelines will be posted August 15 on To view a video trailer, visit



Roman Catholic Priest’s Flamenco Attracts Congregants

Father Jose Planas Moreno; photo by Campanillas Malaga via YouTube

Father Jose Planas Moreno;
photo by Campanillas Malaga via YouTube

A Roman Catholic priest in southern Spain has parishioners banging down his church doors, all so they can praise God and dance the flamenco.

Jose Planas Moreno, or Father Pepe, as he is known, attracts flocks of congregants to the Nuestra Senora del Carmen church in Campanilla by clicking his heels and strutting his stuff.

The 66-year-old priest and female worshippers twirl down the aisles doing the sevillanas, a traditional dance very similar to flamenco, said the New York Daily News. While other Roman Catholic churches deal with dwindling numbers of the faithful, Father Pepe’s pews are filled to overflowing.

“Something happens when I dance,” he told Diario Sur, the local Malaga newspaper, according to Britain’s The Telegraph. “I love it. It brings me closer to God.” He has flamenco in his blood, he said, because his mother was a gypsy.

In 1997, he said, he danced for the late Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. To see the original story, visit




Retiring PBT Corps Member Stephen Hadala in a Class By Himself

Stephen Hadala; photo by Nicholas Coppula

Stephen Hadala; photo by Nicholas Coppula

In a mid-sized company like Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, a corps de ballet member is usually a face in the crowd—a villager, one in a group of friends, a supporting player.

But after his final PBT performance as the foppish nobleman Gamache in Don Quixote, Stephen Hadala took center stage, surrounded by the entire company. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said it was the first time in more than 40 years that PBT had so honored a member of the corps de ballet.

Maybe that was because the 16-year veteran was in a class by himself, above the usual distinctions between principal dancer, soloist, and corps. During his career, he never coveted a promotion. His steadiness, work ethic, and sense of humor made him a “rock” of the company, his colleagues say.

Robert Vickrey, assistant to the artistic director, recalls how the young Hadala would attend a full day of PBT rehearsals then walk to a full-time job at a Rite Aid.

“It was his determination and perseverance,” Vickrey said. “He never slacked off. He kept his nose to the grindstone and was always in class. But there was no one in the world who was more fun than Stephen. You could say anything to him and he had an answer for it.”

Hadala joined the company in 1998, and quickly began to show a gift for character roles, making his mark as Dracula, Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire, and Dr. Coppelius in Coppélia.

“Stephen personalized roles no matter how big or how small,” PBT principal dancer Julia Erickson said. “He made something out of everything.”

He gradually developed into a secure partner, debuted in contemporary works, helped to train new dancers, and, as union representative for 14 years, won the respect of management and fellow dancers.

Hadala will return to Detroit so he and his sister can take over the Allard Academy of Dance, the place where everything began. To read the full story, visit




Not All Residents Approve of Library’s Plan to Add Dance Studio Space

Library renovation public hearing; photo by Nikhita Venugopal/DNAinfo

Library renovation public hearing;
photo by Nikhita Venugopal/DNAinfo

A plan to renovate a public library by adding dance studios has created a rift in the community—with some claiming it’s a sign the neighborhood is turning too “tony.”

DNAInfo NewYork said the Brooklyn [NY] Public Library is negotiating a $1.8 million renovation to its 7,500-square-foot Red Hook branch that would convert roughly half the main library room into dance and rehearsal studios for artists.

BPL is hoping to partner with Spaceworks, a nonprofit group and initiative of the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs, which would run the studios. The group is “dedicated to expanding the supply of long-term, affordable rehearsal and studio space for artists” and currently operates two artist workspaces in Long Island City and Gowanus.

Spaceworks would fund $650,000 of the total $1.8 million renovation, and the City Council would provide the remainder.

But the studios would invade a free and public space where adults and children come to read and learn, said locals at last week’s Community Board 6’s landmarks and land use public hearing.

“Isn’t that taking away from what we come to library for in the first place?” said Yasmin Rahman, who lives in Red Hook.

The proposal allows for Cora Dance, a Red Hook dance school and studio, to provide 100 hours of free programming in the new studios during the first year. Shannon Hummel, Cora’s founder and artistic director, highlighted the school’s affordable pay-what-you-can classes, a model she hoped to expand into the new space.

To read the full story, visit




Virginia Dance Company Is Going to the Dogs—Literally

Jane Franklin Dance’s Cute Animals; photo courtesy WebMD

Jane Franklin Dance’s Cute Animals; photo courtesy WebMD

Can your dog do a mean fox trot? Virginia’s Jane Franklin Dance is looking for dogs and their human owners willing to partner up and dance through her fall program, “Cute Animals.”

The fall program is an effort to spark a connection between area residents who share a common love for dogs and who would enjoy being introduced to a new physical activity they can share with their canine companions.

Practices will be held August 18, August 25, and September 8 from 6:30 to 7:30pm, with a free public performance set for September 10 at 7pm. Rehearsals and performance will be held at the Charles Beatley Central Library, 5005 Duke Street, Alexandria, Virginia.

The program specifically seeks dogs and owners from the Duke Street dog park, Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, Charles Beatley Library’s PAWS reading program, Alexandria Animal Welfare League at Vola Lawson Animal Shelter, or residents of the neighboring area.

The program is open to all ages and levels of dancers. There is no charge to participate—but a dog is required. To sign up, call 703.933.1111 or visit for more information.




British Dancewear Supplier Started By Studio Owner With a Desire To Sew

Anne Walker with sewing equipment; photo courtesy IDS

Anne Walker with sewing equipment;
photo courtesy IDS

A Devon, England–based supplier of dance equipment has boosted its profile in the U.S. after attending a reception held at the British Consulate in New York, according to Insider Media.

IDS (International Dance Supplies), which sells dancewear, shoes, costumes, accessories, fabrics, and other dance-related items such as barres and CDs, arranged the trip through UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and has since received orders from dance teachers across 48 states.

IDS was formed 35 years ago by Anne Walker, who had opened her own dance school at the age of 17. Initially she supplied her students with leotard and shoes from a local shop where she had negotiated discounted prices, but as the school developed, Walker decided to try and make leotards for her students herself. She borrowed some sewing equipment, enlisted the help of one mother and her older students (who cut out the garments), and began selling the garments they produced to other dance teachers.

Eventually, the dancewear manufacturing and sales needed to become a separate business from her dancing school. Today IDS is the UK’s largest wholesale dancewear supplier with a customer base of more than 14,000 dance teachers and retailers worldwide.

To see the original story, visit For more information on IDS, visit




Longtime Dance Teacher’s Poem Recognized With International Prize

Joan Kunsch; photo courtesy Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts

Joan Kunsch;
photo courtesy Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts

“Night Blizzard,” a poem written by Joan Kunsch, associate director at Connecticut’s Nutmeg Ballet, has won an International Publication Prize from the Atlanta Review, and will be featured in the fall 2014 issue, reports the Register Citizen.

Kunsch, who celebrates 50 years of teaching this summer, has had her writing published in the U.S., Norway, England, and India. She translates contemporary Norwegian poets, presents readings in Norwegian as well as English, and performs “Flute Meets Poem” in a duo with her sister, Kathi Byam.

This is the second time Kunsch’s work has received the award. The first was in 2006, with “Ballet Teacher’s Brief Bio.”

As a guest teacher and choreographer, Kunsch has worked in North America and abroad, particularly Scandinavia, England, and the Netherlands. She has choreographed more than 60 works for concert stage, television, sacred space, and outdoor sites.

To see the original story, visit





Blind Students Dance with Confidence at Florida Studio’s Annual Workshop

Arthur Murray Dance Studio; photo courtesy Facebook

Arthur Murray Dance Studio; photo courtesy Facebook

Five years ago Lania Berger, owner of the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Palm Harbor, Florida, heard about the nervousness visually impaired students were experiencing prior to a Valentine’s Day dance and wanted to lend a hand.

“Lots of people get nervous about a dance party, especially for Valentine’s Day, but now make it pre-teens who can’t see,” Berger told the Suncoast News. “The kids were terrified.”

Berger offered free lessons to the children from Lighthouse of Pinellas, an organization that assists blind and visually impaired person. That 2009 collaboration went so well that the studio continued working with Lighthouse students ever since. Thursday marked the studio’s annual Lighthouse for the Blind Dance Workshop, which the studio holds in celebration of National Dance Day.

“The idea behind National Dance Day is to get everybody up and moving and having fun,” Berger said. “We take this as a nice opportunity to bring a little more attention to an organization I so strongly believe in and have a great relationship with.”

To see the original story, visit



International Dance Star, Ángel Corella, Assumes Helm of Pennsylvania Ballet



Ángel Corella; photo courtesy Muppet Wikia

Ángel Corella; photo courtesy Muppet Wikia

Often called “one of the finest dancers of his generation,” American Ballet Theatre standout Ángel Corella has been appointed artistic director of the Pennsylvania Ballet.

“We are incredibly excited to be bringing a director with this level of talent, experience, and passion into our community,” board co-chair David Hoffman said in a release. “Pennsylvania Ballet is at the threshold of a new and dynamic era that calls for an artistic leader with the vision, energy, and creativity to excite audiences. Ángel has the power to make Philadelphia one of the most exhilarating dance cities in the world.”

Born and raised in Madrid, Spain, Corella joined ABT in 1995 and was promoted to principal dancer the following year. He is credited with elevating the technique and artistry of male dancing throughout the world and possessing incredible technical skills matched only by his warmth and passion for the dance.

Corella has spent the last six years in Spain as director of his own company, originally the Corella Ballet Castilla y León, which became the Barcelona Ballet. “Pennsylvania Ballet has such a great reputation, such great dancers and such a loyal audience,” he said. “My dream is to build on this rich history, its Balanchine legacy, and make the company a center for all the best in ballet, a true national model.”

He will replace Roy Kaiser, who is stepping down after 19 years as artistic director to assume the title of artistic director emeritus. To see the full release, visit



Influential Modern Dance Master Bill T. Jones To Receive National Medal of Arts

Bill T. Jones; photo courtesy Kennesaw State University

Bill T. Jones; photo courtesy Kennesaw State University

Bill T. Jones, artistic director of New York Live Arts and artistic director/co-founder of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, will receive the 2013 National Medal of Arts in a July 28 ceremony at The White House.

The National Medal of Arts is the highest award presented to artists and arts patrons by the United States government, and is awarded by the President of the United States to individuals or groups who “ . . . are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support, and availability of the arts in the United States.”

Jones said of the honor: “At a time when the arts have an ever-dwindling presence and importance in education and daily life, I am grateful that the United States government and President Barack Obama take the time to recognize the necessity of art, and to pay respect to the artistic voices that influence and inspire the public to challenge, question, and discover meaning through the arts. I look forward to continuing to engage the people of the United States and the world through the art of movement.”

The National Medal of Arts has been awarded yearly to a select few artists by the National Endowment for the Arts. Dance world recipients have included Jacques d’Amboise, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Trisha Brown, Merce Cunningham, Katherine Dunham, Suzanne Farrell, Martha Graham, Erick Hawkins, Judith Jamison, Gene Kelly, Bella Lewitzky, Agnes de Mille, Arthur Mitchell, Pearl Primus, Twyla Tharp, Maria Tallchief, Paul Taylor, Jerome Robbins, and others.

For more information, visit



Fire Island Dance Festival Nets More Than Half a Million for AIDS

Sara Mearns at Fire Island Dance Festival 2014; photo by Whitney Browne

Sara Mearns at Fire Island Dance Festival 2014;
photo by Whitney Browne

Performances by top dancers from the ballet, contemporary, Broadway, and ethnic dance worlds helped the Fire Island Dance Festival to raise a record-shattering $533,860 for Dancers Responding to AIDS, a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Broadway World said the festival celebrated its 20th anniversary edition July 18 to 20, outdoors on the shores of the Great South Bay in Fire Island Pines, New York. This year’s total eclipsed last year’s record-setting $393,647.

The festival lineup included the world premieres of works choreographed by Joshua Bergasse, Marcelo Gomes, and others, plus performances by 48 professional dancers including New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns, Broadway veteran Nick Kenkel, MOMIX soloist Jon Eden, members of Ailey II, Jon Bond of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, and members of the Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu all-male hula company.

In its 20 editions, Fire Island Dance Festival has raised more than $3.8 million to help ensure that those who need it most can receive lifesaving medications and health care, nutritious meals, counseling, and emergency financial assistance. To see the original story, visit




Hollywood Celebrity Dance Studio, Millennium, Expands to the East Coast

Millennium Dance Complex; photo by Sarah Schneider/Post-Gazette

Millennium Dance Complex;
photo by Sarah Schneider/Post-Gazette

Millennium Dance Complex, a high-profile studio in North Hollywood, California, known for its connection to major stars such as Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, has opened its first franchise on the East Coast.

Tawni Darby, 23, is the owner and general manager of the new Millennium Pittsburgh on East Carson Street, South Side, Pittsburgh, which opened its doors in February and is planning a formal grand opening for this fall, reported the Post-Gazette.

The original Millennium was started at the Moro Landis Studios in January 1992 by co-CEOs AnnMarie Hudson and Robert Baker, and holds classes in ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and other genres while also providing audition and rehearsal space for recording artists like Britney Spears, Usher, and Justin Timberlake.

Darby, a former dancer, was about to begin law studies at the University of Pittsburgh when she saw that the California studio was expanding and submitted a franchise proposal, which was approved in spring of 2013. “To get into this business was always a dream,” says Darby, whose goal is to train and support local students who are pursuing professional careers.

Millennium Pittsburg will offer classes in genres such as ballet, contemporary, jazz fusion, and hip-hop on a drop-in basis, Monday through Saturday. Advance registration is required for master classes and intensive programs.

Other Millennium franchises are in Tokyo, Japan, and Salt Lake City, and plans to open locations in Texas have been announced. To read the full story, visit



Second Annual Cape Dance Festival Brings World-Class Dance to Cape Cod

Annmaria Mazzini of Mazzini Dance Collective; photo by Sarah Sterner Photography

Annmaria Mazzini of Mazzini Dance Collective; photo by
Sarah Sterner Photography

The Cape Dance Festival, scheduled for July 26 at 6pm at the Province Lands Amphitheatre in Provincetown, Massachusetts, has been a labor of love for co-founders Stacey-Jo Marine and Liz Wolff. And that affection for increasing the amount of dance performance on the Cape has been embraced throughout the region.

“The summer program this year will have a different feel with a lot of new work,” says Marine in Provincetown Magazine. “Newer work and a fresh vibe.”

Scheduled performers include Boston Ballet soloist John Lam, along with dancers from the Martha Graham Dance Company, CorbinDances, Nickerson-Rossi Dance, Take Dance, Mazzini Dance Collective, Pedro Ruiz, and Project Moves Dance Company.

Marine and Wolff formed Cape Dance Festival in 2013 to bring world-class dance to the residents and visitors of Cape Cod through education, altruism, and performance. Marine, who teaches dance production at Marymount Manhattan College, is currently touring with the Martha Graham Dance Company as production supervisor. Wolff is a life-long summer resident of the Cape who danced professionally in New York and Cleveland for 15 years, and is the co-curator for Dance On Camera, a film festival held annually at Lincoln Center, NYC.

The Province Lands Amphitheater is located at 171 Race Point Road, next to the Province Lands Visitor Center. For more information, visit



Learn How to ‘Seize the Day’ with Choreography Tutorial led by Broadway’s Newsies

Christopher Gattelli and Newsies cast members; photo courtesy The Disney Blog

Christopher Gattelli and Newsies cast members;
photo courtesy The Disney Blog

As part of the “Get Up and Go” program that encourages kids to lead healthier lifestyles, choreographer Christopher Gattelli and the Broadway cast from Disney’s Newsies have released an online dance tutorial that takes kids step-by-step through the famous “newspaper-shredding” section of the show’s “Seize the Day” production number.

“Get Up and Go” was launched in December 2013 and is currently offered to schools participating in Disney Musicals in Schools, Disney Theatrical Group’s outreach initiative that builds sustainable theater programs in New York City schools. Newsies cast members have been visiting participating schools, leading students in conversations about making healthy food choices, and teaching dance sequences from the show.

“Get Up and Go” will expand nationally with the onset of the recently announced Newsies National Tour in the fall of 2014. Programs in select cities will be announced at a later date. The program will expand to include sessions from The Lion King and Aladdin in 2015.

The tutorial features slightly less acrobatic moves than the original Broadway choreography, so it can be accomplished by kids of nearly every skill level. All that’s needed is a good size area of smooth floors and a newspaper to shred. To watch the tutorial, visit



Mississippi Dancer’s Inclusion on NFL Cheer Squad a Triumph Over Age, Disease

NFL cheerleader Kriste Lewis; photo by Bill Haber/AP

NFL cheerleader Kriste Lewis;
photo by Bill Haber/AP

Faced with competition from women in their 20s and 30s, 40-year-old dance instructor Kriste Lewis never thought she’d make the New Orleans Saints cheerleading squad, known as the Saintsations. And then she did.

“I wanted to set a goal for myself, and the audition was a specific date that required specific training, so my goal was just to make it to the audition,” said Lewis, who lives with her husband and two sons in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, about 100 miles northeast of New Orleans. “Honestly, I really did not think I was going to make it.”

The Detroit News said that Lewis is one of only two NFL cheerleaders in their 40s. (The other dancer is 45-year-old Laura Vikmanis, who has been with the Cincinnati Bengals dance team, the Ben-Gals, since making the squad at age 40.)

Lewis is the oldest to ever audition for the Saintsations, said squad director Lesslee Fitzmorris, who admitted judges didn’t know the dancer was 40 until finding out during an interview held after three rounds of cuts.

Lewis is motivated to make the most of every day since being diagnosed with a debilitating kidney disease that will eventually lead to dialysis treatments and the need for a kidney transplant. “I know my time is limited,” Lewis said. “I don’t want to let any time go. I want to make every day count.”

Lewis will take the field with the Saintsations when New Orleans plays its first exhibition game August 15 at the Superdome against Tennessee. To read the full story, visit



Purdue Students, Alumni, Use Dance To Ask The Big Questions About Life

Obsessive-Compulsive Dance; photo by John Terhune/Journal & Courier

Obsessive-Compulsive Dance;
photo by John Terhune/Journal & Courier

What’s wrong with how the media portrays women? How do we fix our education system? What is dance and what should it be? Obsessive-Compulsive Dance asks big questions like these through dance as the group seeks to challenge nearly everything in life—especially themselves.

The Lafayette Journal & Courier said the group was founded in 2013 by Amy Cadwallader, a local math teacher turned contemporary dancer. Obsessive-Compulsive Dance is a hodgepodge of mostly Purdue [IN] University students and former students interested in expressing themselves through movement and posture. They’re not officially affiliated with Purdue’s dance program. That’s partly the point.

The group stresses the importance of independence. Their favorite question is “What if . . . ”, which is also the title of their latest show, subtitled “What if assumptions were challenged . . . instead of just accepted?”

“What if . . . ” will be performed 7 and 9:30pm Friday in a makeshift cabaret-style stage inside the Greater Lafayette YWCA. The show will feature dancing to a TED talk by author Sir Ken Robinson about how schools kill creativity. There’s a short art film by co-director Amberly Simpson that highlights the female image as seen in commercials. Audiences will fill out a form that asks them probing questions about their personal lives.

Obsessive-Compulsive Dance makes the case that serious, politically charged dances can be appealing in a visceral and enjoyable ways. It’s also more proof that an abstract art form like dance can have something to say about societal expectations.

The performance is free. To read more, visit



Changing Interpretation of Tax Law Hits Missouri Studio with $73,000 Back Tax Bill

Miss Dianna’s School of Dance; photo courtesy Facebook

Miss Dianna’s School of Dance;
photo courtesy Facebook

For 40 years, a sales tax was never collected at Miss Dianna’s School of Dance in Kansas City because it was considered a place of education, said owner Dianna Pfaff. But the Missouri Department of Revenue is stepping up enforcement of sales tax on places of amusement, entertainment, or recreation, and dance practice might now fall under that category, reports

A year ago, the Missouri Department of Revenue audited her small business and slapped her with more than $73,000 worth of back taxes.

Missouri senator Ryan Silvey, stating that “You can’t raise somebody’s taxes by changing a definition,” helped propose a bill earlier this year that would have better defined places of education to include dance. But Missouri Governor Jay Nixon vetoed it in June.

“I think that [Nixon] is finding all ways to find revenue and forcing people to pay taxes by reinterpreting tax code. I think that’s a way he could get extra money,” Silvey said.

There are hopes to override the veto in September. “I don’t believe in what’s going on here and I have to fight for my families, and all the families who have children that take dance in the state of Missouri,” said Pfaff. “The struggle of paying for dance lessons is a little harder now.”

To see the original story, visit


Despite Tough Financial Times, Joan Myers Brown and Philadanco Dance On

Joan Myers Brown; photo courtesy Philadanco

Joan Myers Brown;
photo courtesy Philadanco

Joan Myers Brown is a Philadelphia legend: in 1960 she started a school—and a decade later, the dance company Philadanco—hoping to nullify entrenched racism in ballet, modern, and theatrical dance. She is also founder of the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD), a performance forum and broad-based cultural exchange.

But when Brown received a National Medal for the Arts Award from President Obama last year, she said she was honored, but more concerned with the fiscal shape of her company, reported the

Huffington Post. Today, at age 82 and getting ready for her company’s 45th season, there is no time for a victory lap.

“If I don’t get the company back on its feet, financially, I’m going to have start from scratch,” Brown said. For years she has been one of the few companies to contract her dancers with year-round salaries, and recently she was forced to put them on a two-month furlough.

Philadanco is anything but a static dance company; Brown nurtures new choreographers and new artistic collaborations with other city arts institutions like the Philadelphia Orchestra. The company typically tours 40-plus weeks a year, with many dates sold out. But it never makes enough in ticket sales to pay all the bills. Like many other arts organizations, dance companies have to secure grants and corporate funding to remain solvent, but dance grants are disappearing or becoming more bureaucratically arbitrary and difficult to negotiate.

Brown echoes the frustration of a lot of artistic directors who have proven track records, yet still have to prove themselves worthy. “Being dictating to, what you can and can’t do, so you are not allowed to do your art. I get grants, but there are strings attached.” Rather than lamenting, Brown is even more resolute. The company will head out on another European tour in January.

To read the full story, visit



Mount Vernon Library Hosts Photo Exhibit of Dance

Photo on exhibit in “Grace in Motion” show; photo courtesy ArtsWestchester

Photo on exhibit in “Grace in Motion” show;
photo courtesy ArtsWestchester

The Mount Vernon [NY] Public Library, in collaboration with ArtsWestchester, is featuring a new exhibition of renowned local artists who immortalize the grace, athleticism and artistry of dance through photography, reports the White Plains Daily Voice.

“Grace in Motion: Photographing Dance” features contemporary images of dance performances from around the world, as well as dancers from regional companies. On view in the Mount Vernon Public Library’s Rotunda Gallery through August 2, this exhibition features 16 pieces that highlight the beauty of dance.

“Grace in Motion: Photographing Dance” features the works of established local photographers Stephanie Berger, Ira Block, and Ellen Crane.

Berger has been photographing performance and cultural events at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum. She has been the Lincoln Center Festival staff photographer since its inception in 1996 and has been commissioned by major orchestras and dance companies.

A frequent contributor to many publications, Block is an internationally renowned photojournalist, teacher, and workshop leader who has produced over 30 stories for National Geographic magazine and its affiliates NG Traveler and Adventure. He began his career as a newspaper photographer, earning numerous press club awards.

Crane, of Dobbs Ferry, a ballerina in the ‘80s, found that she enjoyed watching and analyzing movement as much as dancing. After moving to New York City to further her dance career, she eventually entered the Gallatin School at New York University to pursue her interest in photography. Crane has worked with renowned dance photographer Lois Greenfield and covered dance as a freelance photographer for publications including the New York Times, the Village Voice, New York magazine and Dance Magazine.

To see the original story, visit



“Bessie” Nominees To Be Announced July 16


The Bessies, New York City’s premier dance awards honoring outstanding creative work in the field, will announce the 2013–2014 nominees, as well as the recipient of the 2014 New York Dance and Performance Award for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer via a press conference on Wednesday, July 16 at 6pm at Lower Manhattan’s Gibney Dance Center.

The nominees for the New York Dance and Performance Award for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer are Rashida Bumbray, Jessica Lang, Jen Rosenblit, and Gillian Walsh.

Nominees for the New York Dance and Performance Awards, “The Bessies,” will be announced in the categories of Outstanding Production, Outstanding Performer, Outstanding Visual Design, Outstanding Composition or Sound Design, and Outstanding Revived Work. The newly chosen members of 2014 Bessie jury, responsible for the unique Juried Bessie Award will also be announced.

Bessie steering committee chairman and executive director of Dance/NYC Lane Harwell, The Bessies director Lucy Sexton, choreographer and 2014 Bessie jury member Annie-B Parson, will make remarks and presentations. Additional members of The Bessies selection committee will also participate.

Cocktail party reception will be held from 5 to 6pm; Tickets are $50. Press conference will be held at 6pm, for press only. All events to be held at Gibney Dance Center, 280 Broadway, New York City.

For press RSVP email For cocktail reception tickets, visit




Local Skaters and Dancers Share the Spotlight with Stars During Skate Dance Dream

Skate Dance Dream; image courtesy Facebook

Skate Dance Dream;
image courtesy Facebook

Skate Dance Dream, a new show tour that fuses dance and ice skating together and also teams professionals with local youth talent, will make an appearance at the Carolina Ice Palace in Charleston, South Carolina, on July 19 at 7pm.

Moultrie News said Skate Dance Dream is sanctioned by U.S. Figure Skating. Skate Dance Dream Charleston will feature performances by So You Think You Can Dance competitors Amelia Lowe and Tucker Knox.

On the ice, the show will feature 2013 U.S. National pewter medalist Courtney Hicks, 2012 U.S. National junior silver medalist Tim Dolensky, and U.S. National competitor Sean Rabbitt.

Sharing the spotlight will be local dancers and skaters from the surrounding areas selected through a web-based audition process. In each tour stop, these locals also have the opportunity to take classes from the pros and attend rehearsals with them.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Make-A-Wish South Carolina. For tickets to Skate Dance Dream Charleston or more information, visit

To see the original story, visit



Australian Dance Theatre’s Video Technology Adapted To Aid Stroke Victims

Australian Dance Theatre; photo courtesy ABC News

Australian Dance Theatre; photo courtesy ABC News

Stroke victims are getting help from technology created for Australian Dance Theatre in a world-first medical trial that could change the way doctors understand rehabilitation, reported Australian Broadcasting Corporation News.

Australian Dance Theatre has been experimenting with video and dance since 2012. Choreographer Garry Stewart explained how cameras film a dancer, and then software takes video grabs that are projected onto a screen so the dancer can “interact with herself” during the performance.

Neuroscientist Susan Hillier, University of South Australia associate professor of health sciences, has been using the technology in a medical trial that helps patients see what’s going wrong, then make changes to correct body movement they can barely feel.

“Garry and the dancers had this experience when they tried this new technology for themselves when they were moving. They got this better sense of where they were in space and how they were moving,” Hillier said. “And then they got to talking to other people, and because Garry is mates with another neuroscientist, one of my friends, they said, ‘Well, why don’t we try this? Why don’t we try this with people who have movement difficulties?’ ”

Three days of experiments and interviews will show if the trials are worth pursuing. If they work, it will be a bittersweet experience for Hillier. She spent her life studying the way patients with brain injuries respond to physical feedback, and this could show she’s been on the wrong path for 30 years.

“In the past, in my research, we’ve actually taken vision out of the picture,” she said. “We’ve literally had people shut their eyes to concentrate on their body sense. And so this is now doing the complete opposite.”

To view a video report of how the technology works, visit




After Successful Nationals, Dance Studio Left Reeling by Theft of Props Truck

Relevé Performing Arts owner Jamie Osteen and students; photo by Patrick Sullivan/Times-News

Relevé Performing Arts owner Jamie Osteen and students; photo by Patrick Sullivan/Times-News

Jamie Osteen, co-owner and instructor at Relevé Performing Arts Center of Hendersonville, North Carolina, and her troupe of 75 dancers returned home from Kids Artistic Revue’s national competition in high spirits June 29.

But spirits crashed last week when a trailer holding most of the props used in their winning numbers was stolen from the studio parking lot, reported Blue Ridge Now. “They were coming back on such a high,” Osteen said. “To come home and have this happen, I just can’t believe this.”

Stolen was scenery from the troupe’s national championship number, The Auction, a spooky routine choreographed by Osteen in which dancers creep out of the walls and props on stage; and oversized props such as a large blue Lego and gigantic blades of grass used in a production number, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

When the theft happened, two trailers were parked outside the studio: a 10-foot-long trailer emblazoned with the company’s name, address, and phone number, and a plain 12-foot-long trailer the company had borrowed from the father of Osteen’s business partner. The borrowed trailer was missing.

“They couldn’t have hit us in a worse way,” Osteen said. “As much as I hate losing the trailer, it can be replaced. The props can’t be replaced.” She estimated the props to have been worth at least $1,000 to the company.

The troupe is still hoping its props may be returned, and some of them—such as a wooden mountain range large enough for 10-year-olds to scale—could be easy to spot.

To see the full story, visit



People Everywhere Urged to Get Up and Move on July 26’s National Dance Day


National_Dance_DayNational Dance Day events—all free and open to the public—will be held July 26 in Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, DC, as the Dizzy Feet Foundation continues its quest to encourage Americans of all ages to incorporate dance into their lives.

Three routines are now available online that NDD participants can learn and perform at either the official events or locally organized events. They include the official 2014 “Everybody Dance” beginner routine choreographed by SYTYCD’s Nigel Lythgoe to “To Cool to Dance” by Eden xo; an adapted “seated” version of the beginner routine; and an advanced routine choreographed by SYTYCD choreographer Chris Scott to “Get My Name,” by Dancing with the Stars’ Mark Ballas.

FOX TV announced that actress and classically trained dancer Jenna Elfman will host the Washington DC event, beginning at 4pm at Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. “Dance has helped me through my career, my personal life and in my life as an artist,” she said. “It is so liberating to use one’s body to communicate ideas and emotions . . . whether one is exactly trained in dance or not.”

So You Think You Can Dance break-out stars tWitch and Allison Holker will host the New York City event at Lincoln Center, also beginning at 4pm. The Los Angeles event will run from 10am to 3pm at Grand Park.

Lythgoe introduced the idea of a National Dance Day to the U.S. Congress in 2010. Occurring annually on the last Saturday in July, NDD has encouraged thousands of people of all ages from across the nation to participate in dance flash mobs and community dance events.

For videos of the three routines, visit  To see the original story, visit




Two High School Dancers Create Program to Share Love of Dance With Others

Just Dance creators Ashlee Schuh, 17, (left), and Kaitlyn Xavier, 16; photo by Mark Crosse/The Fresno Bee

Just Dance creators Ashlee Schuh, 17, (left), and Kaitlyn Xavier, 16; photo by Mark Crosse/The Fresno Bee

In a small storage room with no air conditioning at the Zimmerman Boys & Girls Club in central Fresno, California, a dozen youngsters in the Just Dance program must keep from banging into hockey equipment, boxes, and each other, but are having a blast learning how to dance.

The Modesto Bee said Just Dance was created last summer by San Joaquin Memorial High School and Fresno Dance Studio students Kaitlyn Xavier, 16, and Ashlee Schuh, 17. Every week, Xavier and Schuh take time between school and a rigorous rehearsal and performance schedule to teach children ages 6 to 12 basic dance moves.

“We wanted to share our passion for dance with little girls and boys that may not be able to afford to come to a dance studio,” Schuh said during the recent annual Fresno Dance Studio recital, where Just Dance children were guest performers.

The instructors sacrifice more than just time and energy to support Just Dance. Over the last year, they have sent out a barrage of emails asking for donations from friends, family, and teachers to help pay for costumes for performances. Schuh and Xavier spend their own money each week to provide the group with snacks.

Ralph Villarreal, grandfather of a Just Dance dancer, praised the program. “This is a great open door for these kids,” he said. “It’s an awesome experience for them.”

To see the full story, visit



Wheelchair Dance Contestants Secure Spots in Asia Paralympic Games

International wheelchair dancing competition; photo courtesy

International wheelchair dancing competition;
photo courtesy

Winners of a global wheelchair dancing competition held in Beijing have secured a spot at the Asia Paralympic Games, which will be held this October in Incheon, Republic of Korea. It will be the first time wheelchair dance is included as an official sport at the games, said.

Among the 116 contestants from eight countries in Beijing, the oldest was an 85-year-old Japanese woman whose passionate movements won much applause.

Competitor Shi Ke, 55, from China, said she learned about wheelchair dancing during the 2008 Paralympic Games and soon fell in love with it. “Wheelchair dance has not only improved my health, but also brought me a lot of friends. Our dance partners are all healthy people. They volunteer to teach and dance with us,” she said.

Wheelchair dance requires good upper body strength, which poses a challenge for aging contestants such as Shi. She has calluses all over her hands, but she is happy when dancing on her wheels. “The wheels are like my wings that help me realize my dreams and fly me to a bigger stage,” she said.

To see a video report on the competition, visit



Dance All Day—For Free!—on July 26, Philadelphia Dance Day

Philly Dance Fitness; photo courtesy Facebook

Philly Dance Fitness; photo courtesy Facebook

Philadelphia Dance Day, a nonprofit festival featuring free workshops, live performances, and a huge evening dance party, will be held July 26.

Philly Dance Fitness, an independent company based in Center City, first organized this event three years ago to celebrate National Dance Day. Organizers seek to unite the Philly community as they celebrate dance both as a platform for creative expression and as a joyful, physical activity.

More than 300 people participated in the 2013 celebration, and with the addition of more participating organizations and more volunteers, an even bigger turnout is expected this year.

There is no pre-registration, and no limit to the number of workshops participants can attend. Workshops are filled on a first come, first served basis. All daytime workshops are free. (There is a $5 entrance fee for the evening dance party and other events at the historical Ethical Society Building on Rittenhouse Square.)

Locations and offerings include:
• Headlong Studios: power jam stretch, impact jazz, Indonesian dance, hip-hop, striptease, dance party boot camp
• Major Movement Studio: Tap Tonic, Piloxing (Pilates and boxing), modern fitness, JazzTech, BalletEXTREME, Bhangra Blast, tango
• Philadelphia Dance Academy: adult beginner ballet and advanced beginner adult tap
• Studio 1831: belly dance
• Christian Street YMCA: Zumba Sentao, Body Jam, Sh’Bam, hip-hop master class
• Art in Motion Dance Academy: Bachata
• The Ethical Society of Philadelphia; cardio bellydance, Zumba party, lindy hop, rumba, salsa

To see the full schedule, visit



Early Proponent of Modern Dance in Seattle, Martha Nishitani, Dies at Age 94

Martha Nishitani in 1952; photo by The Seattle Times

Martha Nishitani in 1952;
photo by The Seattle Times

Martha Nishitani, a champion of modern dance in Seattle, died at 94 on June 5, reported the Seattle Times.

For decades her Martha Nishitani Modern Dance School was a home for aspiring dancers of every age. Her own dance troupe, Martha Nishitani Dance Company, toured the region extensively and was the only modern-dance company in Seattle in the early 1950s.

Some of her students went on to professional careers, including James Howell (Joffrey Ballet), Sandra Neels (Merce Cunningham Dance Company), and Jennifer Thienes (Mark Morris Dance Group). Touring dance troupes, including the Joffrey and Cunningham companies, made use of her studio, as did Pacific Northwest Ballet in its earliest days.

“A chance to enlighten people about modern dance is the most satisfying thing that I’ve experienced,” she told Sara Yamasaki in a 1998 interview for Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project.

Nishitani was born February 27, 1920, the ninth of 10 children. She caught the dance bug at age 6, when she saw a vaudeville dance act. Her education at the University of Washington was interrupted by World War II when she and her family were interned at Camp Minidoka in Idaho.

She returned to Seattle in 1946 and established her own dance troupe in 1951. By 1959, she was being described in this newspaper as “Seattle’s foremost exponent of modern dance.” From 1954 to 2002, she ran her dance school on University Way Northeast (now home to Open Flight Studio). She also taught in local public schools, Helen Bush School, and for the Seattle Parks Department.

She joined University of Washington Opera Theater in 1955, choreographing all its productions for the next 10 years. Nishitani was honored as a Woman of Achievement by the Seattle chapter of Theta Sigma Phi in 1968, and as an Asian American Living Treasure by the Northwest Asian American Theatre in 1984.

To read the full story, visit



Lyons, Kelly, Latest Inductees Into International Tap Dance Hall of Fame

Carnell Lyons; photo courtesy American Tap Dance Foundation

Carnell Lyons; photo courtesy American Tap Dance Foundation

Hollywood icon Gene Kelly and Carnell Lyons (“Mr. Magic Feet”) will be inducted into the International Tap Dance Hall of Fame at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts tonight as part of the American Tap Dance Foundation’s annual Tap City festival, announced

Lyons (1917–1992), along with the acrobatic duo of Jesse Franklin and James Hawthorne, climbed to the heights of show business in the ‘50s, appearing with Kate Smith, Jackie Gleason, and Milton Berle on TV, and as one of the few black acts that played Las Vegas (El Rancho) and Radio City Music Hall (May 23, 1953) in that era. Lyons later performed extensively in Europe and the Far East, and, according to his American Tap Dance Foundation bio, was responsible for bringing rhythm tap to Europe through his late-in-life teaching career.

Tony Waag, Tap City’s director, says that Kelly (1912–96) continues to inspire male dancers who identify with his athleticism. “He represented—similar to Gregory Hines—a very masculine, positive image for tap dance,” Waag says.

The festival also features two evening tap-centered events this week at NYC’s Symphony Space: on Wednesday, Kelly’s widow, Patricia Ward Kelly, will offer up insight and film clips during “Gene Kelly: The Legacy.” On Thursday, an international cast of hoofers will perform in “Tap and Song.” For more information on both shows, visit

Tap City concludes on July 12 with a free public celebration featuring 150 dancers in historic Foley Square.

For more information on the International Tap Dance Hall of Fame, visit

To see the original story, visit



Free Ballroom Dance Classes Aim to Assist Alzheimer’s Sufferers with Symptoms

Volunteers and caregivers dance with seniors; photo by Sarah Wilson

Volunteers and caregivers dance with seniors;
photo by Sarah Wilson

The Alzheimer’s Association Central and North Florida Chapter will hold free ballroom dance classes for those diagnosed with dementia and their caregivers every Saturday in July from 2 to 3pm at the Crosby Center YMCA in Winter Park, reported the Winter Park/Maitland Observer.

Danny Anez, associate director of programs for the Alzheimer’s Association Central and North Florida Chapter, said while there is no “100 percent proven method for slowing progression or prevention” of Alzheimer’s, keeping both the mind and body active is important for all seniors.

“Ballroom dancing has the unique ability to stimulate the brain in new and novel ways, as well as physically working on things like balance—which is a huge issue when it comes to senior populations,” he said.

According to statistics collected by the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans are living with dementia, and every 67 seconds another person develops Alzheimer’s. Experts estimate that by the year 2050, 16 million people will have the disease.

The symptoms of dementia—memory loss and decreased problem-solving and reasoning skills—are incredibly disruptive to daily life for the individual. John Davis, president of the Orlando chapter of USA Dance, hopes those who come to the dance program create a stronger bond with their caregiver, have fun, and perhaps reminisce about happier times.

“Some of the things that happen when you start with cognitive deterioration is that it does lead to a certain isolation and loneliness, and certainly ballroom dancing with a partner will help them to channel communication on a social level and on a physical level,” he said.

Volunteer partners are available, and RSVP is required at 800.272.3900. To read the full story, visit



AileyCamp Teaches Middle-Schoolers Dance While Building Self-Esteem

AileyCamp national director Nasha Thomas-Schmitt; photo by Belinda Lawley

AileyCamp national director Nasha Thomas-Schmitt;
photo by Belinda Lawley

AileyCamp, named in honor of the late Alvin Ailey, a choreographer and activist who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City, is part dance camp and part road map for the tricky terrain of the middle-school years.

The camp was founded in 1989, the year of the death of Ailey, who promoted opportunities for African American dancers. About 900 children will participate in nine camps nationwide this summer, including in Kansas City, Miami, and Berkeley, California.

The Baltimore Sun said the roughly 50 children age 11 to 14 who participated in the camp this summer at Towson University were interviewed before being selected, with organizers looking for children from underserved populations of Baltimore who needed help with their self-esteem and who could benefit from learning creative expression.

Nasha Thomas-Schmitt, the national director of AileyCamp, said many of the students are seeking support. “They’re looking for someone to identify with,” Thomas-Schmitt said.

The Baltimore camp, which ran from June 19 to July 3, started this year as a pilot, with Towson University donating space in its Center for the Arts. Next year, organizers hope to double the number of campers and by 2016 expand the session to six weeks.

The children work with professional dancers on modern, ballet, jazz, and West African dance and take classes in “creative communication” using poetry, art, and journalism. They get counseling in nutrition, drug and alcohol abuse prevention, and in how to develop social and conflict resolution skills. The children also were provided with breakfast, lunch, and a snack, as well as tights, leotards, ballet shoes, backpacks, and other items.

To read the full story, visit,0,5817488.story.




SYTYCD Winner To Step Out “On The Town” In Broadway Revival of 1944 Musical

On The Town; image courtesy Broadway World

On The Town; image courtesy Broadway World

The winner of Season 11 So You Think You Can Dance will be offered a role in the Broadway revival of On The Town, set to open this fall. The show’s winner would join the cast in the spring of 2015, reported Broadway World.

SYTYCD’s top 20 finalists will perform a dance to the musical’s iconic opening number, “New York, New York,” choreographed by On The Town choreographer Joshua Bergasse (Smash), on the July 9 broadcast.

On The Town, a musical-comedy love letter to New York City, premiered on Broadway in 1944 with choreography by Jerome Robbins, music by Leonard Bernstein, and book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

The latest production, directed by John Rando (Urinetown), will begin previews September 20 and officially open October 16 at Broadway’s Lyric Theatre. The cast will be led by Tony Yazbeck (Gypsy, A Chorus Line), Jay Armstrong Johnson (The New York Philharmonic’s Sweeney Todd, Hands On A Hardbody, Hair), Clyde Alves (Bullets Over Broadway, Nice Work If You Can Get It), Megan Fairchild (New York City Ballet principal dancer), Alysha Umphress (American Idiot), and Elizabeth Stanley (Company).

To see the original story, visit




Cinema Dance Defies Authority, Celebrates Joy, and Embodies Passion and Pain

Singin’ in the Rain; photo courtesy Cine Text/Allstar/Sportsphoto Ltd./Allstar

Singin’ in the Rain; photo courtesy Cine Text/Allstar/Sportsphoto Ltd./Allstar

In American movies, dance wants to assert the place of the individual, to find a space for their freedom, their spontaneity, and their capacity for improvised joy. It makes its stand against automation and pompous authority. Above all, it does so by being deliciously silly.

An in-depth look at dance in film printed in London’s Guardian says that Fred Astaire often invited the censure of the stuffy—a classless American guy in Top Hat up against the upper-class Englishmen obeying the Thackeray Club’s rule of silence. There’s disapproval, too, in Singin’ in the Rain, with the policeman who moves Gene Kelly along, and in Baz Luhrmann’s wonderful Strictly Ballroom, with the old guard who resist the young hero’s new dance moves. In such moments, the dancer embodies a natural pleasure of which authority disapproves.

Kelly affirmed that “dancing is a compulsion from within, more authentic than the forms imposed from without.” He had begun his career as a dance teacher, and something of the teacher always remained with him. In Anchors Aweigh, when he instructs the cartoon Jerry Mouse how to dance and gives up being a grouch, the movie taps into childlikeness, the capacity to achieve unselfconsciousness through playful imitation.

Ballet may come into Hollywood musicals, but the ballet film follows rules all its own. Dancing should be carefree, but such films portray the dance world as the home of suffering, whether through work and anxiety as in Robert Altman’s The Company, or as pure gothic in Dario Argento’s Suspiria. Behind every adaptation of Ballet Shoes there looms a Black Swan. These are largely films about dedication to art, where dancing means compulsion, pain, or a shimmering illusion.

The greatest of all ballet films must be Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s The Red Shoes (1948). This movie conducts us into an alien, backstage world, and then guides us to a narrative within, the ballet of “The Red Shoes,” a place where stories are told differently, through gesture related to music. Weak dance films make us a second-hand audience; others place us within the dancer’s moment. The Red Shoes achieves both; we both watch the ballet and are inside it.

To read the full story, visit



RI Attorney General Brings Lawsuit Against Studio Featured on TV Reality Show


Rhode Island attorney general Peter Kilmartin has filed a lawsuit against a Warwick dance studio, claiming the studio owner’s fraudulent actions violate the state’s deceptive trade practices act, WPRI reported.

The studio, Triple Threat Performing Arts Center, was “rescued” in the first episode of a new reality show broadcast on Lifetime on June 24, in which the studio received more than $30,000 in donated flooring and other physical improvements.

In the weeks leading up to the lawsuit, the attorney general’s office received 20 written complaints against Triple Threat. The complaints allege that the owner, Marlaina Rapoza, took money from customers for certain dance competitions but “never informed her customers that their children would not be allowed to participate.”

Barbara Moses, whose child dances at the studio, said Rapoza claimed a competition that they paid for was canceled. “There was another competition that we didn’t get in, she said it was canceled actually,” said Moses. “I called them myself and they said ‘No, it wasn’t canceled, your studio just didn’t pay.’ ”

Other complaints allege that Rapoza’s checks to the consumers for reimbursement for canceled dance competitions and other services were returned due to insufficient funds.

The owner of Elite Dance Challenge, Sandra Walsh, claims that Triple Threat Performing Arts Center performed at one of her competitions in March, but the $6,000 check that Rapoza gave her was returned by the bank. She has filed a complaint with Rhode Island State Police.

WPRI’s Call 12 for Action made several attempts to reach Rapoza, who has 20 days to respond to the lawsuit. The phone at Triple Threat Performing Arts Center has been disconnected, emails went unanswered, and Rapoza’s cell phone no longer accepts messages.

To see the original story, visit



Alabama Studio Sends Video ‘Thanks’ and Thousands of Cookies to US Troops

Linda Dobbins Dance Studio; photo courtesy

Linda Dobbins Dance Studio; photo courtesy

The young women at Linda Dobbins Dance Studio in Mountain Brook, Alabama, are showing their appreciation for the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces with some sweets, choreographed moves, and well-wishes.

“With it being so close to the Fourth of July,” artistic director and studio owner Dobbins told, “I thought the girls needed to learn about our nation’s birthday and more about our troops.”

So, she said, she planned a patriotic week of classes at the studio. The girls learned military-style drills as part of their everyday conditioning routines, said Dobbins, all while wearing red, white, and blue dance attire and moving along to patriotic tunes.

The dancers also learned a patriotic dance routine choreographed by Anna Marie Dobbins and Lori Maddox and made 342 bags of cookies. A video recording of the routine, titled “For Everything You Do,” plus the nearly 2,000 cookies and a giant, handmade card were sent to U.S. Marines stationed in Spain.

Why Spain? Dobbins’ own nephew is stationed there. “It’s our own special way of saying ‘thank you,’” she said.

To see the original story and see the video, visit





Giordano, Hubbard Street, Joffrey, and Others Lend Talents to Annual AIDS Event

Dance for Life Chicago; photo courtesy Facebook

Dance for Life Chicago; photo courtesy Facebook

Dance for Life Chicago, the largest performance-based AIDS fundraising event in the Midwest, will feature six of Chicago’s top dance companies in a celebration of life and dance set for August 16.

The event, held annually since 1992, raises awareness and funds for HIV/AIDS care, education, and prevention, and benefits organizations such as the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, The Dancers’ Fund, Agape Missions, NFP, and MADE: Making A Daily Effort.

This year’s performance will feature world premieres by choreographers Randy Duncan, Harrison McEldowney, and Jeremy Plummer, and appearances by Giordano Dance Chicago, Joffrey Ballet, River North Dance Chicago, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater, and Visceral Dance Chicago.

A gala reception will begin at 5pm at the Hilton Chicago Grand Ballroom, 720 S. Michigan Avenue, with the Dance for Life performance beginning at 8pm at Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway. Complimentary shuttle bus service will be provided between the two venues.

Performance tickets run $25 to $75, with gala tickets priced at $250 to $600. To purchase, visit







Seniors Who Dance Regularly Walk Faster and Take Fewer Meds, Study Finds

Seniors benefit from dancing, study shows; photo courtesy

Seniors benefit from dancing, study shows;
photo courtesy

Dancing can reduce seniors’ knee and hip pain and also improve their walking, finds a new study published recently in the journal Geriatric Nursing. reported on the research, which involved 34 seniors, average age 80, who all had pain or stiffness in their knees or hips as a result mainly of arthritis. The participants—mostly women—were assigned to a group that danced for 45 minutes up to two times a week for 12 weeks, or to a control group that did not dance.

By the end of the 12 weeks, those who danced had less pain in their knees and hips and were able to walk faster, said Jean Krampe, an assistant professor of nursing at Saint Louis University and lead author of the study. The use of pain medicines fell by 39 percent among seniors in the dance group but rose 21 percent among those who did not dance, she noted.

The findings about walking speed are important, she added, because seniors who walk too slowly are more likely to fall, be hospitalized, or require care from others.

“Doctors and nurses recognize gait speed as the sixth vital sign that can help us predict adverse outcomes for older adults,” Krampe said. “Walking just a little more rapidly can make enough of a difference for a person to get across the street more quickly or get to the bathroom faster, which keeps them functional and independent. In our study, those who danced didn’t walk dramatically faster, but they had a meaningful change in their walking speed.”

She added: “Dance-based therapy for older adults needs to be gentle, slow, and include options, so it can be performed standing or sitting, because their fatigue or pain level can change day to day.”

To see the original story, visit



Black and White Vintage Photos Depict Ballet’s Glamorous Past

Vintage ballet photography; photo by Serge Lido

Vintage ballet photography;
photo by Serge Lido

For ballet fans, there’s nothing more fun than perusing a collection of black and white photographs from ballet’s glamorous past. Vintage Everyday has posted an interesting assortment of backstage, onstage, and publicity shots from the 1950s and 1960s by Russian-French photographer Serge Lido (1906–1984).

Though based in Paris, Lido gained an international reputation for his dance photos, which were published in magazines and also collected in book form, such as La Danse (1947) and Les Étoiles de la danse dans le monde (1975).

To view the 15 photos of Margot Fonteyn and others, visit



National Dance Institute’s China Project Train Young Dancers

Dancers and teachers onstage in Shanghai; photo courtesy National Dance Institute

Dancers and teachers onstage in Shanghai;
photo courtesy National Dance Institute

After three years of training by American dancers, a group of Shanghai students put on a dance performance for teachers and parents last Wednesday, according to CCTV. The event was part of a three-year pilot program set up by the National Dance Institute, the U.S. nonprofit organization that introduces children to the arts.

More than 600 children from 15 schools in Minhang District took part in the two-hour performance. NDI members trained more than 50 Chinese teachers and helped them teach more than 3,000 children how to dance, communicate with an audience, and put their personalities into a performance.

“Between the first day we meet the children, and the day the performance happens, you see an amazing trajectory going from maybe a little reserved, maybe a little unsure, fearful, a lot of times. But by maybe day three, they start to open up a little bit, and you see them really bloom, like a flower . . . growing in self-confidence, and expressing themselves in a fuller way,” said Kay Gayner, director of NDI’s China Project.

Thought the pilot program ends this year, the institute says it plans to build a training center in Minhang District, and hopes to work with children all over China.

To see the original story, visit




New Dance Alliance Formed in San Diego

San Diego Dance Connect; photo courtesy San Diego LGBT Weekly

San Diego Dance Connect;
photo courtesy San Diego LGBT Weekly

The San Diego dance community is aligning with new energy and new leadership under the name San Diego Dance Connect, according to a story in San Diego LGBT Weekly. After several months of gathering the community’s input, 10 dance leaders were selected to steer the newly formed alliance. They include: Blythe Barton, Erica Buechner, Ana Nieto, Molly Puryear, Elyssa Dru Rosenberg, Lara Segura, Molly Terbovich-Ridenhour, Zaquia Mahler Salinas, Anjanette Maraya-Ramey and Natalia Valerdi.

The mission of San Diego Dance Connect is to strengthen the dance community by providing opportunities to network, communicate, advocate, and share resources. Its vision is to empower the dance community to create a more sustainable and visible dance ecosystem in the San Diego region.

The community group will meet quarterly to share information and exchange ideas for creating more opportunities for dance in San Diego. The next free event will be held July 29 at Wang’s North Park from 5 to 6:30pm followed by a networking and resource event at North Park’s Art Produce from 6:30 to 8:30pm, featuring an interactive presentation by Amy Fitterer, executive director of Dance USA and an update on the development of the new San Diego Dance Connect website.

Felicia Shaw, director of arts and Creative Economy at The San Diego Foundation Center for Civic Engagement, says, “San Diego Dance Connect will provide a platform for weaving diverse social ties, building and sharing knowledge, and creating infrastructure for widespread engagement—all of which help dance make a difference in the lives of more San Diegans.”

For more information about San Diego Dance Connect, visit

To see the full story, visit



Choreography iPad App Features Dances by Justin Peck

Daniel Ulbricht/Passe-Partout app; photo courtesy New York Times

Daniel Ulbricht/Passe-Partout app; photo courtesy New York Times

The New York Times reports on a new iPad app that lets users experiment with choreography, digitally.

Passe-Partout, the third and newest dance application by the 2wice Arts Foundation, is its most complex yet. Produced by Patsy Tarr and designed by Abbott Miller, this app presents a new stage for dance that allows a user to overlay a series of one-minute pieces onto one another—eight solos or duets in total—choreographed by New York City Ballet dancer and choreographer Justin Peck for himself and Daniel Ulbricht, a NYCB principal.

In the dances, Mr. Peck and Mr. Ulbricht are accompanied by the music of Aaron Severini, a former NYCB member turned composer, who focuses on different instrumentation for each piece he composed; even if more than one is playing, they don’t clash. He created for clarinet, piano, harp, harpsichord, marimba and percussion.

The dances made for Passe-Partout can be saved or shared through social media. Since one mission of 2wice is to educate the public about dance, Ms. Tarr, its effervescent, philanthropic president, wanted to tackle the rudiments of choreography.

“What this app is doing that is different from the others is that it’s letting the viewer have a little bit more insight into what it takes to create choreography,” Ms. Tarr said. “As you work with these layers, you start to see unison and symmetry and repetition—I was hoping that we would be able to visualize some very core concepts that exist in choreography by letting the viewer interact with them.”

Mr. Miller and Ms. Tarr relish the authenticity that comes through in the app; neither wanted it to look slick. “If you really plow through it very carefully, there are some moments where Justin looks disgusted or just exhausted,” Ms. Tarr said. “We’re trying to get to the essence of choreography. I think people should see that struggle.”

To see the full story, visit





Virginia Commonwealth University Announces Appointment of Dance Department Chair

E. Gaynell Sherrod; photo courtesy VCU

E. Gaynell Sherrod; photo courtesy VCU

Virginia Commonwealth University named Dr. E. Gaynell Sherrod chair of the Department of Dance and Choreography, beginning August 1.

Following Sherrod’s 15-year career performing, touring, and teaching with Philadanco under Joan Myers Brown, as well as with Urban Bush Women, Inc., she earned a M.Ed in dance education and an Ed.D in dance pedagogy and theory from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

VCU School of the Arts dean Joseph Seipel said about the appointment, “Dr. Sherrod comes with a range of experiences that I feel will add to the dimension to the Department of Dance and provide another model of professionalism in the performing arts, and dance specifically, within the School.”

For more information, visit



New Jersey Town to Try to Break Dance World Record


After a rash of shootings led promoters to postpone for a week an attempt to break the world record for soul line dancing, Salem SWAG (Souls With A Goal) will go ahead with the event this Saturday, June 28 in Salem, New Jersey.

Salem SWAG (Souls With A Goal) organized the attempt to set the world record in the Soul City Walk and the Soul Train line dance. They will need at 300 to break the Soul Train Record, and are hoping to set the Soul City Walk as a new category.

Salem SWAG member Matt Hassler came up with the idea two years ago, but wanted something more, an additional cause for the dance. Then Hassler got a call from Rebecca Gower-Call of the Arc of Salem County, an organization that supports people with disabilities. “I told her whatever we got we’d give to the Arc,” Hassler told the South Jersey Times.

Starting at 9am Saturday, people can register for the dance at the corner of Market Street and Broadway in Salem, New Jersey. Suggested donation is $5. For every donation, $4 will go to the Arc and $1 will go to Stand Up For Salem.

Dances will be taught starting at 11:15am. Salem SWAG is also encouraging people to come out dressed in their best 70s attire for the Soul Train dance.

Hassler predicts that 500 to 700 people may show up—more than enough to set and break the records—although he’s hoping for 1,000 people.

Salem SWAG also hopes to make the dance an annual event. “Every year we want to pick a charity and pick a new world record to break,” Hassler said. “We want to do something fresh, something sustainable,” he said. “This is for people to go out and get energized.”

For information, call 856.906.5012. To see the full story, visit



Dance Celebrations Taking the World Cup By Storm

Colombia celebrates a goal against Japan; photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Colombia celebrates a goal against Japan; photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Soccer fans around the world are glued to their TVs and radios as the World Cup is underway. But even those who wouldn’t know a corner kick from a cabriole can enjoy the games. The Huffington Post ran a Reuters story embedding video links of World Cup soccer teams’ best dance moves.

The Colombian team celebrates with nifty tropical dances after their goals in a joyful return to the World Cup following a 16-year absence. The dances have just kept on coming as Colombia have stormed through to the last 16 for the first time since 1990.

Ghana are running Colombia a close second with their moves, striker Asamoah Gyan leading the team in a well-coordinated leg-cocking ‘chicken’ dance after scoring against Germany.

To see onfield dance moves and to read the full story, visit



Rhode Island Irish Step Dancer Receives National Heritage Fellowship

Kevin Doyle, recipient of National Heritage Fellowship; photo by Tom Pich, courtesy Providence Journal

Kevin Doyle, recipient of National Heritage Fellowship;
photo by Tom Pich, courtesy Providence Journal

The National Endowment for the Arts announced Wednesday morning that Kevin Doyle, an Irish step dancer from Barrington, Rhode Island, will receive a National Heritage Fellowship, the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.

“I’m thrilled about it. And humbled,” Doyle said in a phone interview with the Providence Journal. “I don’t take it lightly at all.”

The fellowship comes with a $25,000 award. The nine 2014 NEA Fellows will be honored at an awards ceremony in Washington on Sept. 17 and a concert at George Washington University Sept. 19. Doyle is also scheduled to meet with Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee.

Doyle, a 63-year-old retired RIPTA bus driver, said he learned his first dance steps from his mother, Margaret Taylor Doyle, when he was 8. In the ’60s, Doyle studied at the Pat Fallon School of Irish Dance and at the McGorry School of Dance in Pawtucket. When he was 10, he began to study American tap at Pawtucket’s Theresa Landry School of Dancing. (Landry, 93, is still teaching.)

More recently, Doyle has performed with Rhode Island band Pendragon, folk duo Atwater-Donnelly, and the touring dance ensemble Atlantic Steps. He’s also pictured dancing on the cover of the 2014 NEA Guide.

To see the original story, visit


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