February 2016 | Page Turners

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Books of note (new and not)
1. Dance Improvisations: Warm-Ups, Games and Choreographic Tasks
2. Screendance: Inscribing the Ephemeral Image
3. Creating Musical Theatre: Conversations With Broadway Directors and Choreographers
4. Choreographing Copyright: Race, Gender, and Intellectual Property Rights in American Dance

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February 2016 | Teaching What Can’t Be Taught

Aspiring choreographers study basic elements of the craft while creating dance works at RDA's National Choreography Intensive. Photo courtesy National Choreography Intensive

Can you teach a dancer—or anyone else—how to choreograph?

For more than five decades, the National Choreography Intensive (NCI) has stood by the idea that the tools and craft of choreography not only can be taught but should be taught, especially to aspiring dancemakers. Every July, the NCI, run by Regional Dance America, convenes to nurture and guide both fledgling and seasoned choreographers, as well as participating dancers, through the process of learning how to construct a dance. A director of choreography and a director of music (in 2015, Ronald K. Brown and Farai Malianga, respectively) serve as the participants’ mentors.

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February 2016 | Bulletin Board: Pin, Post, Share

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Click! What’s new online at the Rhee Gold Company
Dance in Time: February
Quotable: Dancers on Dance

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February 2016 | Moving Images

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Videos of note (new and not)
1. William Forsythe: From a Classical Position/Just Dancing Around?
2. Trash Dance
3. Ballet 422
4. Last Dance

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February 2016 | On My Mind

Photo by Mim Adkins

There are many ways to evaluate a dance school. We might first think of the merit of the faculty or training. Or we might consider the awards won; the number of students who move on to the professional world; the quality of the customer service, organization, and professionalism; or other factors.

To me, though, quality is reflected most in the atmosphere and spirit of the community created within the school, especially among the intensive dancers. Instinctively, at a performance or in the classroom, I can feel whether (or not) the kids get along with and respect each other. Competitiveness or jealousy aren’t simply inward emotions felt by those who possess them—the actions, emotions, or distractions that they can create usually seep out to affect the classroom and sometimes an entire school.

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February 2016 | FYI

Fluff LeCoque's roles in the Las Vegas entertainment scene included dancer, choreographer, ballet mistress, and more than 30 years as Jubilee company manager. Photo by Denise Truscello

What’s up in the dance community

A Snapshot of Connecticut Dance History

Art in View at Google Cultural Institute

Artistic Influences

More Than a Showgirl: Fluff LeCoque

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February 2016 | Bright Biz Idea | Dance School Startup

Almost 400 students were enrolled at KV Dance Studio by the end of its first year, which led to an expansion of the studio space.

Looking for financing advice and mentorship, Van de Nes approached Lesley Holmes, a local businesswoman and the mother of two daughters who trained with Van de Nes. Brainstorming sessions ensued. The women bounced around ideas for financing the estimated $150,000 it would take to open the studio, including renovations of a 2,500-square-foot space to include three classrooms, an office, and a lobby. One of the brainstorming sessions led to a breakthrough idea: a Founders’ Club consisting of families who would earn benefits if they made an up-front investment in the studio.

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February 2016 | Small Stage, Big Ideas

Child Performer Rose Frances dances in the space above the stage in a work by Keith Hennessy. Photo by Chelsea Petrakis, courtesy Portland Institute for Contemporary Art

What on earth can you create on a 4-by-4-foot stage? And what would you and your performers learn from it?

At a recent Ten Tiny Dances show at Portland, Oregon, warehouse space The Works at The Redd, viewers discovered only a fraction of the many—and surprising—possibilities.

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January 2016 | Bulletin Board

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Click: What’s new online at the Rhee Gold Company
Dance in Time: January
Quotable – Dancers on Dance

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January 2016 | Thinking Out Loud | From Good to Great

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Making the jump from good teacher to great teacher is a chapter we all endeavor to write in the book of our lives. And though it may seem unattainable at times, striving for greatness is a way of investing in yourself and your students every day: practicing, thinking, and reaching. Constantly. Becoming a better teacher is within everyone’s reach, and it starts with the resolve to be stronger.

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January 2016 | Dancing to Connect

Dancing to Connect instructor Sean Scantlebury leads dance lessons (in white shirt) for blind students in Paraguay. Photo by Javier Valdez

After toiling in relative obscurity for decades, Jonathan Hollander’s is making headlines with his company, Battery Dance, and his international outreach program, Dancing to Connect. Battery Dance Festival (formerly Downtown Dance Festival), a free, multicultural event held in Lower Manhattan since 1982, caught major attention from the New York Times last summer. And the Wall Street Journal took note when a young law student in Baghdad, Iraq, began taking dance lessons via Skype from one of Battery Dance’s members.

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January 2016 | Homegrown Homework

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As dance teachers know, conferences and conventions are excellent opportunities to get fresh ideas, network with colleagues, and rejuvenate their love for teaching. However, since many are annual events, teachers can end up with limited options if the dates conflict with other obligations. Cost is also a factor; registration fees, travel, accommodations, and meals can add up to $1,000 or more. In such situations, there are other options for those who wish to engage in professional development: participate in or provide opportunities within their own communities.

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January 2016 | College Close-Ups | Alabama State University

Master classes and regional and national conferences extend students' learning. Photo by David Campbell

Two years ago, Alabama State University (ASU) launched a new artistic endeavor: the Department of Theatre Arts’ BFA/Dance program.

Located in Montgomery, the state capital, ASU is one of only two Alabama institutions of higher learning to offer a BFA in dance. Helmed by dancer, educator, and choreographer Michael Medcalf, the program welcomed its first class in 2013. Only a handful of freshmen enrolled, but the numbers have increased steadily—32 majors and minors were enrolled in fall 2014, 47 this academic year, and 62 are projected for next fall—making it one of ASU’s fastest growing programs. Both majors and minors must audition.

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January 2016 | Teacher in the Spotlight | Kristin Kudla

Photo by Ashlie Dente

NOMINATED BY: Michelle Loizeaux, former student/team choreographer: “Kristin was my teacher for 10 years and is now my colleague. She helped shape me into the dancer I dreamed I could be, and now, as a teacher myself, I continue to learn from her. Kristin connects emotionally with her students, successfully communicates the technical aspects of her lessons, and develops meaningful and professional friendships with her dancers and their parents.”

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January 2016 | 2 Music Tips for Teachers | La Sylphide and Reels

Photo courtesy Nina Pinzarrone

Tip 1
The first Romantic ballet, La Sylphide, a two-act ballet set in Scotland, depicts a love triangle between James, a farmer; Effie, his fiancée; and a sylph, or forest spirit. Torn between real and fantasy loves, James chooses fantasy, with tragic results. The ballet premiered in 1832 in Paris to acclaim, with Filippo Taglioni’s choreography showcasing his daughter Marie as the sylph. Jean-Madeleine Schneitzhoeffer’s score, with its lilting 6/8 rhythms and buoyant 2/4 variations, especially for the female leads, lends itself to petit allegro—ballonnés, pas de bourrées, brisés, and cabrioles.
Tip 2
Rhythmic and melodic features of Scottish Highland dances (which both Taglioni and Bournonville studied) appear in both La Sylphide scores. The Highland spirit is best captured in Løvenskjold’s Act 1 reel, based on the traditional tune “McDonald’s Reel”—perfect in class for dégagés, petits battements, and petit allegro.

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January 2016 | Bright Biz Idea | Build a Brochure

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The trifold brochure is the little black dress of printed pieces: a marketing staple that can be both elegant and useful. More spacious than a postcard or business card, less wordy than a booklet or website, a brochure can unfold alluringly, offering a tasty arrangement of essential information and photos. Then it folds up neatly to be stuffed into a handbag, a reminder, later, of how fun it would be to sign up little Carlos for boys’ ballet.

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January 2016 | Page Turners

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Books of note (new and not)
1. The Art of Persian Dance
2. Hijikata Tatsumi and Butoh: Dancing in a Pool of Gray Grits
3. Dancers as Diplomats: American Choreography in Cultural Exchange
4. Bharatanatyam: A Reader

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January 2016 | Compassion, Cooperation, Creativity

Dance to Unite encourages students to celebrate the racial diversity within their schools and neighborhoods.

In New York City’s Chinatown, they’re studying hip-hop; in Brooklyn, they did Bollywood; in Harlem, they’re learning Latin ballroom from a former ballet dancer who grew up in Taiwan; and in the Bronx, they’re belly dancing. In a city known for its diversity, it’s often difficult to bring different cultures together. But Dance to Unite, Inc., with its corps of dance volunteers, is teaching unity and celebrating difference through dance.

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January 2016 | FYI

The Wooden Floor, which gives students who live in poverty the support they need to make it to college, is sharing its winning formula with other dance-based programs. Photo by Kevin P. Casey

What’s up in the dance community

Celebrating Sono Osato

Opening the Stage to All Ages

U.S.-Based RAD Teacher Training for Pros

The Wooden Floor Shares Its Success

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January 2016 | EditorSpeak

Photos by Chris Hardy

“Season of Change”: Happy New Year! The flip of the calendar from December to January is one of my favorite times of the year, because it brings a sense of renewal and rejuvenation, the potential for growth, and the anticipation of the unknown. We at Dance Studio Life hope 2016 holds much goodness for you, both personally and professionally. With so much cruelty and so little compassion in the headlines in recent months, it’s our wish that everyone enters this new year with a goal of human kindness. All of us have the power to do good, whether in the form of personal interactions or via the soul-touching qualities of dance.

“Studio Havens”: At our current studio, the teachers are good and the atmosphere is easy. In the lobby, parents talk quietly on the couches and teenagers do homework or flurry past like March winds. Postcards and event notices emphasize that this space functions as a community’s hub; a bookshelf gives my little son and me something to do while my daughter takes class. Through gauzy curtains, I watch my girl skip, leap, and laugh in class. That’s why we’re here—that’s why we come back. As a mom, dancer, and human being, I appreciate being welcomed.

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January 2016 | On My Mind

Photo by Mim Adkins

It’s a new year, and I’ll bet you have some sort of self-improvement goals for 2016. If one of them is to become a better teacher, try this: imagine that each time you enter your school you are walking in the stage door, prepared to give the best performance possible.

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January 2016 | Eastern Influences

An Arts Cure Center production is based on a Japanese folk tale about a fisherman, Urashima Taro, who rescues a turtle and is rewarded with a visit to the bottom of the sea.  Photo by Keiichiro Hoashi

Dance is big in Japan. Ballet was introduced in Japan in the 1910s by Russian émigrés, and in the 1920s and ’30s Japanese dancers brought German expressionist modern dance back from Europe. After World War II, American modern dance influences took hold in Japan; more recently hip-hop has folded itself comfortably into Japanese culture.

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December 2015 | Onstage Nationwide

A hip-hop team gets its groove on at Masquerade Dance Competition. Photo courtesy Masquerade Dance Competition

If you’re looking for just the right competitions and conventions for your students, you’ll find them here. Our extensive and updated listings, updated each year, run from coast to coast, and range from mega-tours to regional events.

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December 2015 | 2 Music Tips for Teachers | Leitmotifs and National Dances in Coppélia

Photo courtesy Nina Pinzarrone

Tip 1
Coppélia (1870), staged in Paris two months before the Franco-Prussian War broke out, is considered the last Romantic ballet. A collaboration between choreographer Arthur Saint-Léon, librettist Charles Nuitter, and composer Léo Delibes, it tells a comic story of a village couple, Swanilda and Franz, and a mysterious doll maker, Dr. Coppélius.
Tip 2
Delibes incorporated several national dances, all the rage then in Paris, into Coppélia’s score, setting a precedent for future ballet composers.

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December 2015 | College Close-Ups | Duke University

Students learn modern, ballet, jazz, hip-hop, West African dance, and dances of the African diaspora from full-time faculty.  Photo by Les Todd, Duke Photography

The Duke University Dance Program aims to provide excellent opportunities for interdisciplinary dance studies within a first-class liberal arts education. Its mission is to ensure that students don’t have to give up dance in order to pursue a rigorous academic education; most students in the program choose interdepartmental or double majors.

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December 2015 | Teacher in the Spotlight | Brynn Weinzirl

Photo by Shea Weinzirl

NOMINATED BY: Dana Farber, a student’s mother: “Brynn has endless energy for her students. She spends weekends working on choreography, rhinestoning costumes, hand-making accessories, and helping her solo students. She wants the best for her students and encourages them with positive and kind words. What I value most as a dance parent is that Brynn takes class, attends conventions, and looks for performing opportunities to further her own dance experience.”

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December 2015 | EditorSpeak

Photos by Chris Hardy

“Dance in Museums”: Choreographer William Forsythe has long kept a toe in the art world. He’s exhibited at the Louvre, Tate Modern, MoMA, and Venice and Whitney biennials, and now has a major show at Frankfurt’s Museum of Modern Art.

“A Farewell”: I was asked if I wanted to write a farewell or slip quietly into the sunset upon resigning as associate editor. I love sunsets, but I have also loved my job at Dance Studio Life magazine.

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December 2015 | Bright Biz Idea | From Personal Journey to Brand

Dance 101's extensive schedule ranges from fitness-based fare to classes that fuse traditional techniques to master classes by top choreographers.

Ofelia de la Valette was in the gym, fighting off some post-pregnancy pounds. Hard work, but then she knows plenty about work. What she didn’t know, that day at the gym, was that she was about to experience something that would change her life.

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December 2015 | 2 Tips for Modern & Contemporary Teachers | Using the Legs, Encouraging the Individual

Photo by Ingrid Werthmann

Tip 1
Fully engaged legs are essential to classical modern technique. Yet sometimes so much value is placed on the torso and arms in the classroom that clarity in the legs is lost.
Tip 2
When training is too focused on physical ability, students may miss out on the sense of personal exploration that is one of modern dance’s most important gifts. Especially with codified styles, we teachers may get lost in a sense of achievement as our students advance through the acquisition of vocabulary and proper technique. But it’s important always to be exploring ways to bring forth students’ full humanity in class. We should be able to see the individual in modern dance—it is part of what makes this tradition so beautiful.

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December 2015 | On My Mind

Photo by Mim Adkins

As we prepare to head into 2016, I am thrilled to launch a concept that has been dancing around in my mind for more than five years: an international business conference and association for dance school owners. This dream will become a reality with the first I.D.E.A. (International Dance Educators Association) conference, held July 30 through August 1, 2016, at The Phoenician, a luxurious resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. With many respected dance teacher organizations offering high-quality dance conventions, master classes, teacher training, and competition or performance opportunities, I.D.E.A. will take a different tack, focusing on the development and implementation of high business and ethical standards.

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December 2015 | Moving Images

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Videos of note (new and not)
1. Flex Is Kings
2. PS Dance! Dance Education in Public Schools
3. Wild Style
4. Thelma’s Tap Notes: A Step-by-Step Guide to Teaching Tap—Children’s Edition

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December 2015 | Page Turners

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Books of note (new and not)
1. Jazz Dance: A History of the Roots and Branches
2. What the Eye Hears: A History of Tap Dancing
3. Hip Hop on Film: Performance Culture, Urban Space, and Genre Transformation in the 1980s
4. Hermes Pan: The Man Who Danced With Fred Astaire

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December 2015 | FYI

Zoe Butchen's DanceDOnations.org collects and redistributes recital costumes to dancers in need. Photo courtesy Heather Butchen

What’s up in the dance community.

Lessons and Legacy of West Side Story

Beloved Recital Costumes Dance Anew

Audience Participation and Creation

Protecting a Delicate Past

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December 2015 | Bulletin Board: Pin, Post, Share

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Dance in Time: December
Quotable: Dancers on Dance

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December 2015 | 2 Tips for Hip-Hop Teachers | Geometry and Fundamentals

Photo by Bill H

Tip 1
If students tend to focus internally or stay in one spot while freestyling, or if choreography isn’t moving around the room as planned, turning basic geometric shapes into pathways can help. This exercise encourages students to focus outward and frees their bodies to travel.
Tip 2
Students can feel overwhelmed when asked to improvise. Focusing on dance fundamentals, basic aspects of movement shared by all dance forms, can help.

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December 2015 | Reaching Out With Jazz

Rutland's educational efforts are championed by Broadway legend Ben Vereen, who has become her personal friend and spiritual supporter. Photo by Falin Williams

Patti Rutland was done. After 20 years, the Dothan, Alabama, resident had sold her dance studio and was set to retire. Then a dancer she had mentored and befriended, Vincent Johnson, posed a question: “Is there anything you wanted to do but didn’t?”

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December 2015 | Name That Dancer

Fun games help to introduce students to important dancers like the Nicholas Brothers.

With so many performances and competitions to prepare for, technique to drill, and choreography to experiment with, teachers often don’t think they have time to teach dance history, a topic often associated with college programs. Some instructors may have only 30 or 45 minutes with a class. Others may not know how to make history relevant and exciting to students, or how to do it while keeping the class moving. And it may seem unfair to require students to read articles or conduct research as part of a dance class, in addition to their regular schoolwork.

Fortunately, there are many ways to engage students in learning about dance icons, styles, and events of the past, and teachers who are more than happy to share their methods for making history come alive in their studios.

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December 2015 | Make Mine Musical Theater

Front & Center for Performing Arts' students work on auditioning skills, etiquette, and musical theater techniques while preparing shows such as Shrek the Musical. Photo by Christine Rhunke Photography

Does your heart beat faster when taps start clacking a rapid staccato cadence on 42nd Street? Do you dream of waving a flag as leader of the student protests in the Paris Uprising of 1832? Do you hold your breath for the moment when Macavity the Mystery Cat makes (or doesn’t make) his appearance? If so, you’ve been bitten by the musical theater bug—just like students at Front & Center for Performing Arts. This school in Springfield, New Jersey, has catered to musical theater lovers ages 3 to adult for 14 years.

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November 2015 | Bulletin Board: Pin, Post, and Share

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Click! What’s new online at the Rhee Gold Company
Dance in Time: November
Quotable: Dancers on Dance

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November 2015 | Thinking Out Loud | Two for One

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Heading into my 19th year of teaching, I have held many titles over the years—dance instructor, movement teacher, dance specialist, and guest artist. But when I started being called a “teaching artist” about 12 years ago, the components of my life came together. “Teaching artist” is the title that best describes me.

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