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Posts Tagged ‘dance’

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



Game for iPhone Gets Players Dancing

Dancers using iPhone app Bounden; photo courtesy Bounden

Dancers using iPhone app Bounden; photo courtesy Bounden

An item in the New Yorker reports that last month a group of game developers introduced Bounden, an app that invites users to dance, but also lays bare our obsessively protective relationship with our phones.

Created by the Dutch design shop Game Oven, Bounden works like this: two players hold the phone from opposite ends and guide a cursor through a sort of maze on the screen while music plays; the shape of the maze forces the players to twist, spin, and loop around and under each other, as in a dance. The underlying choreography was developed by Ernst Meisner of the Dutch National Ballet, and the app contains videos of company members performing the finished dances.

When executed by professionals, the pieces all tell a strange story about two people who are terrified to drop an iPhone. Bounden begins to play music, a romantic passage from a work like Adolphe Adam’s Giselle, or a jaunty march that recalls music from Ludwig Minkus’s Don Quixote. The phone beseeches the couple to dance, and dance they do, never looking at one another, always grasping their tiny, fragile overlord.

When played by untrained dancers, Bounden creates jagged, awkward movement patterns that resemble a rather abstract downtown performance. It’s a partner dance, but it’s not clear who, if anyone, is meant to lead.

For the full story, visit




Heart Recipient, Donor’s Mother to Dance in Competition

Janet Ramsey and Jack Eigel; photo by Rick Wood, courtesy Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Janet Ramsey and Jack Eigel; photo by Rick Wood, courtesy Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

WINS 12 News reports that Wisconsin resident Jack Eigel, a heart recipient, and Janet Ramsey, the donor’s mother will participate in the ballroom dance competition at the Transplant Games of America to be held in Houston July 11 to 15.

Ramsey’s late son, Chris, donated Eigel’s heart, which he received in 2009. “I think we’ve been doing really good, and I’m feeling really comfortable with the tango,” Ramsey said.

“We’re going into that with a very open mind of, ‘We’ll just do the best we can. It will just be fun,’ ” Eigel said. Eigel and Ramsey first started dancing together in January. They’ve since performed for the Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin and have another event before traveling to Houston to compete.

For Eigel, dancing like this is something he never dreamed of. “As a younger person, I took some dance classes and things but never ballroom. I pretty thought that was behind me. but here we are,” Eigel said.

Ramsey said being by Eigel’s side with her son’s heart means so much. “The first year, five years out, I never imagined that I could be happy again, and I am happy, and I’m very happy that I know Jack, and I’m very glad that we’re dancing and having fun,” Ramsey said.

To read the full story, visit




Dad Dances with Special-Needs Daughter for Pageant Wins

McKenzie Carey with Dad Mike; photo courtesy ABC News

McKenzie Carey with Dad Mike; photo courtesy ABC News

Mike Carey, of Dallas, Georgia, never imagined that he would be participating in pageants, reports ABC News. But as dancing partner to his 12-year-old daughter McKenzie, Carey has spent a good amount of time on stage.

McKenzie has mitochondrial disease, which affects the 12-year-old’s ability to speak and move and has left her in a wheelchair. According to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, mitochondrial disease usually damages cells in heart, liver, skeletal muscles, and respiratory systems, as well as the brain.

McKenzie’s mother, Tammy Carey, started putting her daughter into pageants at age 5 as a way to bond with her daughter and to help McKenzie meet new friends.

“We’re trying to figure out ways to help our daughter and help her enjoy life, and pageants give her an opportunity to be like other children,” said Tammy Carey, who noted that McKenzie can’t speak but understands those around her.

However, McKenzie’s condition confined her to a wheelchair, making it difficult for her to participate in the performance aspect of competitions.

During a particularly hectic pageant day, Mike Carey had an idea. “You leave it up to me,” Mick Carey told his wife before taking the stage with his daughter. “I wheeled her up on the stage and I did a wheelie across the stage and I picked her up [to dance]. I made up a dance in my head. The crowd went crazy.”

The pair has been performing together in pageants ever since and Mike Carey estimates he’s planned out seven dances for his daughter. McKenzie has won about 20 pageants, according to her mom.

At a recent pageant, Carey’s son taped the pair’s latest performance and put it online to raise awareness about the disease as the family raises money online to fund medical treatments for McKenzie. In just two days the video has already gotten more than 220,000 views with people as far as New Zealand chiming in.

“If I get one person [inspired], it made the whole song and whole thing worthwhile,” said Carey. “It’s like an unspoken message. This dance is alike an unspoken testimony and shows bond and love between a father and daughter.”

For the original story and to view video, visit



Vintage Dance Movie Posters on Display at Jacob’s Pillow

GOTTA DANCE! movie poster exhibit; image courtesy Jacob’s Pillow

GOTTA DANCE! movie poster exhibit;
image courtesy Jacob’s Pillow

The art of the dance movie poster is celebrated at Jacob’s Pillow this summer with GOTTA DANCE!, an exhibit of vintage posters from throughout the world. The posters, which feature stars such as Gene Kelly, Rita Hayworth, Cyd Charisse, Eleanor Powell, and Astaire and Rogers, were selected from the collection of award-winning poster designer and producer Mike Kaplan.

Signature pieces include an original French poster for An American in Paris (1951), previously owned by Gene Kelly; a young Jimmy Stewart with Eleanor Powell in Born to Dance (1936); an iconic image of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in elegant evening attire for Carefree (1938); Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in caricaturist Al Hirschfeld’s design for Strike Up the Band (1940); and the only poster to spotlight the Nicholas Brothers, executing a dazzling, acrobatic tap routine on the Italian single folio for The Great American Broadcast (1941).

Also on exhibit are posters featuring Shirley Temple, Marilyn Monroe, Katherine Dunham, Margot Fonteyn, Lena Horne, Audrey Hepburn, Carmen Miranda, Rudolf Nureyev, and Frank Sinatra.

Jacob’s Pillow director of preservation Norton Owen collaborated with Kaplan to create this exhibition as a special tribute to Marge Champion, who donated the exhibition’s venue to Jacob’s Pillow more than 20 years ago. GOTTA DANCE! includes a special six-poster salute to Marge and Gower Champion on the occasion of Marge Champion’s 95th birthday.

Kaplan’s companion book, GOTTA DANCE! The Art of the Dance Movie Poster, will soon be available at the Pillow Store and online.

Kaplan will also participate in a free PillowTalk on June 27 at 5pm. The GOTTA DANCE! exhibit is free and open to the public Tuesday noon to 5pm; Wednesday to Saturday, noon to 9pm; and Sunday noon to 5pm.

For more information, visit



Rhoden and Matvienko Team Up for The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby artistic and production team; photo courtesy Dance Informa

The Great Gatsby artistic and production team;
photo courtesy Dance Informa

Dance Informa reports that three renowned artists are coming together to create and produce a feature-length ballet version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic The Great Gatsby. Set to premiere in Russia in October 2014, the production has plans to soon thereafter embark on a world tour.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet co-artistic director Dwight Rhoden will be bringing his creative eye to the team. Joining Rhoden will be pop composer Konstantin Meladze, and project star and art director Denis Matvienko, former Mariinsky Ballet principal and ABT guest.

Matvienko, who will star as Jay Gatsby, underwent a major surgery on his leg in April and recently announced his return to performing. Denis Matvienko’s sister, Alyona Matvienko, will serve as the project’s producer.

The first official auditions for The Great Gatsby ballet were held at the Mariinsky Theatre last month. It has not been announced who will partner Matvienko and dance the role of Daisy Buchanan.

To read the full story, visit




Blindness No Handicap for Belly-Dance Teacher

Jillian Ricks; photo by Dan Henry, courtesy Chattanooga Times Free Press

Jillian Ricks; photo by Dan Henry,
courtesy Chattanooga Times Free Press

Jillian Ricks, a Soddy-Daisy [TN] native teaches belly dancing at the studio she opened three years ago. Jillian’s Studio is unique—she uses a hands-on approach to teach her students by feel, reports the Chattanooga Times Free Press. It’s a necessity, as she began losing her sight at age 6 and is now legally blind.

“I don’t have central vision at all so I can only see from the corners of my eyes,” the 27-year-old explained.

Not being able to see has never been a handicap for Ricks. As a child she danced, played soccer and softball. She also performed in the color guard, throwing and catching flags, throughout high school and college while studying philosophy at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. It just took dedication and a little extra practice.

“My parents did not baby me, I was not coddled. If I wanted to do something I did it.” Ricks said. “That’s how I am here today with the studio, because I never said I can’t do that or shouldn’t do that.”

Ricks’ work as a massage therapist and yoga teacher helps her when touching her students, feeling what they might be doing right or wrong in a particular move and helping her correct them.

Ricks has practiced a number of dance forms, from ballet to clogging, but fell in love with belly dancing. “It’s my true dance form versus all the other stuff I’ve done. Belly dance fits my personality and my body better than any of the others. I love it,” Ricks said.

To read the full story, visit



Ask Rhee Gold

Advice for dance teachers

Hello Rhee,

I attended the DanceLife Teacher Conference in Phoenix last summer. I have made the exciting move of opening a studio, and I thank you for giving me knowledge about this process. Now I am creating a philosophy, goals, and a business plan, and I wondered if you could provide me with a few key elements that I should or shouldn’t include. Thank you! —Sophia


Hello Sophia,

I would defer to professionals when it comes to your business plan. But I’ll give you some tips on strategy. As you launch, go for the preschool and once-a-week students market. Focus on their needs—learn everything you can about what they want and develop the best curriculums to make the parents feel that their children are receiving a solid dance education from teachers who care.

Some people open a school in hopes of attracting advanced dancers from other schools; I do not recommend that you go that route. Advanced dancers usually pay discounted tuition, require more of your time, and can be a financial burden on a new school. As you and your school grow, you will build strong dancers—which means when you’re ready to invest the time and effort (and finances) into working with the advanced dancers, they’ll be equally as prepared and committed.

Here are some specific questions to ask yourself, to help you analyze what’s working well right from the beginning. One, which age groups does your school attract? Two, which classes are the most successful? Three, which class days and times do your clients want?

Remember, the goal is to be different. Don’t put yourself into the same mold as the other schools in your area. Experiment with adult programs, and design some fun six- and eight-week programs as samplers or summer sessions. Make sure your preschool programs are top-quality and creative. And don’t forget to appreciate your staff, clients, and your own hard work. Have confidence in yourself and what you want to accomplish. Good luck! —Rhee



Hi Rhee,

I have no idea how to handle this situation. I bought my studio in 2012; one of the former owners moved away, and the other one remained in the area. She and I were on good terms, and I continued to support her work after she left. I haven’t heard from her since I took over the school.

She has begun her own business as a master teacher and choreographer for local studios. She is sending resumes to these studios; however, she hasn’t approached me. The students at my studio who remember her do respect her, and I don’t want to change that. Many of them follow her new business on Facebook and Twitter. They would love to have her teach a class with us.

Her buyout agreement has a four-year non-compete, non-solicitation clause. I contacted the attorney who wrote the agreement, and he agrees that she has broken it. I am not threatened by her current business; in fact, I wouldn’t mind having her teach a class at my studio. But I have read comments on social media that indicate she is planning to offer regular classes. That does concern me.

Also, she has used video footage from my studio (her choreography, but done in my studio and at shows while she was still a co-owner). The agreement included her surrendering all files. I am not comfortable with her posting images of my studio’s clients and facility on her website.

The easiest thing to do is have the attorney send a letter to her asking her to stop, but I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do. I could call her (or write) to see if we can discuss the situation. I do want to approach the situation delicately. There is room in the city for both of us, and I want her to know that. But at the same time I want to protect my business. What do I do? —Nora


Hello Nora,

I too am not sure what to do in this situation. My first instinct is to call her, but you would have to be calm and professional. Don’t say anything about talking to a lawyer or anything else that might make her feel threatened. Let her know that you are aware that she is doing a lot of teaching and wants to expand to more classes. Listen to her and go with your instinct. If it seems as though her goal is to open a school or something like that, don’t say too much more. But if she wants to teach, perhaps you could ask her to come to your school.

If your instinct tells you that this might become a mess, let the lawyer take over.

One thing to think about: no matter what this teacher does, it will only be for a few more years that your current students will remember her. As time goes by, you will be the face of the school, and the students’ loyalty will be to you. Be sure that you go above and beyond for your clientele so that no one would think of leaving.

This is a kick in the butt for you, which could be a good thing in the long run. I wish you the best. —Rhee



Hello Rhee,

Recently, one of my teachers quit because of how I handled a situation in which a parent took issue with her teaching style; her daughter wanted to quit dance because of it. This is not the first instance of this.

Last year we had a child in the studio who has ADHD and is on medication. This teacher would nag her for not paying attention and not remembering what was taught. She should have addressed it differently and approached me or the parent about what was going on. When the parent told me her child didn’t want to dance anymore because of how she felt in class, I met with her and the child.

After the meeting, I told the teacher about the parent’s concerns: her tone with the kids, lack of enthusiasm, and the fact that she greets nobody and never smiles. At first, the teacher tried to make those improvements. But the changes were short-lived.

Then I got a call from a different parent, whose child wants to quit because of the same issues with the same teacher. I contacted the teacher and she explained the difficulties and frustrations she had with the kids. When she complained that the kids weren’t getting the choreography, I suggested that she change it so the kids would shine and not struggle. She was adamantly against this and quite defensive at this point. She said nothing that addressed the well-being of any child or what she could do to remedy the issues. This concerned me.

I suggested that I take over her next class to see if I could formulate a plan to remedy any of the problems or frustrations she was experiencing. She didn’t want me in the class without her present, and told me she felt that excluding her from any discussions regarding her class was disrespecting her.

After she quit, I had a discussion with the class. The impression I got was that several children were seriously intimidated by this teacher. She’d threatened to “rip out” choreography and give them “baby steps” if they didn’t get it right or make them stand onstage with nothing to do if they didn’t practice. All of the kids were afraid, anxious, and fearful in her class. They were relieved when I told them their teacher was gone.

I’ve always prided myself on building confidence. This teacher came to me from another studio in a terribly timid state of mind, ready to give up dance. She had zero confidence and I changed that for her. But when she quit, she said that I was disrespecting her as a teacher.

Do I reach out to her and try to talk about how she was perceived, so she has the opportunity to reflect and work on bettering herself? Or do I let her go, knowing she might make the same mistakes somewhere else? Thanks! —Emily


Hi Emily,

I think you should do yourself a favor and not contact this teacher. You have explained to her several times over what you wanted her to improve, and she chose not to follow your suggestions. Let her move on; you’ve done as much as you can.

I suggest focusing on doing everything you can to make the rest of the year as positive, fun, and rewarding an experience as possible for this teacher’s former students. Good luck. —Rhee











2 Tips for Modern Teachers | Balanced Rotation

By Bill Evans

Tip 1
Balance is the key to healthy functioning, in dance as in all aspects of our lives. Activating internal (inward) as well as external (outward) rotation in the hip joint is crucial to our students’ well-being. Turning out more than turning in creates unhealthy imbalances. Because muscles that are not continually engaged become weak and muscles that are overworked become disproportionately strong or hypertonic (inelastic), it’s important to give students opportunities to work in outward rotation, neutral rotation (parallel), and inward rotation in every class. I enjoy sharing phrases that move through inward and outward rotation and linger for crystallizing moments in positions that allow students to experience being turned in, parallel, and turned out in both the supporting and gesturing legs.


Tip 2
It is important to remember that rotation of the leg and the arm takes place around an axis from the head of the femur or humerus all the way through the tips of the toes or fingers. By sensing these axes, students develop a synergistic muscle balance throughout the body, rather than overloading the proximal (closer to the trunk) muscles responsible for humeral rotation. I like to sense the axis in the arm and hand as extending from the humeral head through the third (middle) finger. I like to sense the axis in the leg and foot as extending from the femoral head through the second toe. Sometimes students hold so much shoulder tension that they immobilize the scapulohumeral joint and rely solely on the rotary action at the elbow (twisting of the radius and ulna) rather than sensing the mobility of both the proximal and mid-limb joints.




College Close-Ups | What students need to know about college and university dance programs

Cornish College of the Arts

Imagine Seattle in 1914: lumberjacks, Model Ts—and an arts school. Nellie Cornish founded The Cornish School of Music in 1914 to provide Seattle citizens with an arts education that would rival any in the world.

Believing that her students should study all of the arts, “Miss Aunt Nellie” created an innovative educational environment that fostered creativity. It was at The Cornish School where a young Merce Cunningham discovered dance and met his lifelong collaborator, John Cage.


Faculty member Michele Miller serves as a mentor and guide to Cornish dance students. Photo by Colleen Dishey

In 1986, The Cornish School became Cornish College of the Arts, one of a few American colleges that offer degrees exclusively in the performing and visual arts.

Today the Cornish Dance Department offers a BFA in dance, focusing on performance, choreography, and teaching. (Invited students can complete a BFA degree in three years through the department’s Accelerated Degree Program.) The program prepares students for a broad range of careers in dance and related professions, encouraging them to discover and define their own paths. Students learn the entrepreneurial tools necessary to create a sustainable life in dance and develop a sense of self that helps them navigate the opportunities and challenges of a life in the arts.

The dance curriculum places equal importance on physical mastery and creative expression. Daily ballet and modern-dance classes form the core curriculum. Elective courses cover other technique styles and ancillary subjects such as conditioning and somatic techniques. Choreography and improvisation courses develop choreographic craft and personal voice. Students take advantage of Cornish’s arts-college setting by collaborating with students from other artistic disciplines, forming artistic partnerships that continue after graduation.

Performance opportunities include Cornish Dance Theater, the department’s performing ensemble, which presents biannual concerts with choreography by faculty and professional guest choreographers such as Ohad Naharin, Robert Battle, and Crystal Pite, as well as restagings of historic masterworks and site-specific dances in cultural venues and environments around Seattle.

The annual New Moves student choreography concerts and BFA senior project concerts provide additional performance and choreographic opportunities.


Cornish Dance Theater dancers Will Christopher, Sam Picart, and Autumn Tselios perform a faculty-choreographed piece, Groove Riff Lickety Split Stride, in 2013.
Photo by Chris Bennion

Through its Dance Wellness Program, the department seeks to prepare healthy dancers who have the self-confidence and physical understanding necessary for professional longevity. Technique classes emphasize anatomically sound training based on awareness of individual physical facility. Courses in anatomy and injury prevention teach students to make the most of their physical potential. The thorough dance-science curriculum enables students to complete a certificate in Pilates Mat teaching during their Cornish education.

The department atmosphere is warm and supportive, with students drawing inspiration from one another. Students also form deep relationships with professional faculty members who serve as mentors and guides. Visiting artists expose students to aesthetic perspectives not represented among the permanent faculty.

At Cornish, dance education isn’t limited to the campus. Seattle is an international dance hub, with visits by touring companies ranging from classical ballet to cutting-edge performance art. Cornish dance students use the professional dance community as their classroom, networking and developing professional relationships that support them after graduation.

Cornish Dance alumni can be found working in many professional fields, from performing, choreography, filmmaking, and teaching to body therapies and conditioning techniques, costume design, arts administration, and technical production. Alumni have been especially successful in creating opportunities by forming companies, producing concerts, initiating teaching programs, and exploring collaborative and cross-disciplinary interests.

As alumnus Holley Farmer, who performed with Merce Cunningham Dance Company and starred on Broadway in Twyla Tharp’s Come Fly Away, said, “At Cornish, I met my future.”

—Kathryn Daniels


Name of program: Cornish College of the Arts Dance Department
Year founded: 1914
Department philosophy: To provide broad professional preparation emphasizing health and entrepreneurship while balancing challenge and nurture.
Entrance audition required: Yes, live or video.
Degrees available: BFA in dance
Number of students in department, 2013-14: 85; 70 women and 15 men
Ratio of students to faculty: 9:1
Technique classes offered: Ballet, modern, jazz, hip-hop, tap, pointe, ballet and contemporary partnering, African dance, world dance forms
Additional classes offered: Choreography, improvisation, anatomy, kinesiology, music, dance history, dance production, lighting design, Laban Movement Analysis, teaching methods, conditioning, somatics, professional practices
Faculty: Kitty Daniels, Iyun Harrison, Pat Hon, Wade Madsen, Lodi McClellan, Michele Miller, Deborah Wolf
Performance opportunities: Four mainstage productions a year: two featuring choreography by faculty and visiting professionals, two featuring student choreography
Additional opportunities available: Study abroad and internships, Pilates Mat teaching certificate, 3-year Accelerated Degree Program
Notable alumni: Merce Cunningham, Holley Farmer, Katrina Thompson, Amy O’Neal




A Mirror on Creativity

The Huffington Post headline caught my eye: “18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently.” Wouldn’t you know, I fit almost all of the descriptors, from “they daydream” to “they people-watch” to “they ask the big questions.”

It was only after I saw that hundreds of readers commented that this story was a mirror into their minds that I began to question: am I a creative person, or is it just flattering to believe so? Many people are undeniably creative—Paul Taylor, for example. Sonya Tayeh, certainly; Christopher Gattelli, Nappytabs, whoever works with Jabbawockeez. But me? Let’s use this list and see.

“They observe everything.” As a choreographer, I took this to mean hear everything, as in “Wow, wouldn’t that song make a great number!” Unfortunately, the list doesn’t say creative people remember everything. If I only knew all the great ideas I’ve forgotten.

“They work the hours that work for them.” Yes! My best choreography happens between 7 and 10am. If life intervenes and I’m forced to choreograph at say, 3pm, I will dutifully pump out something that, the next day in rehearsal, will be frantically re-choreographed in my head and taught with a lot of uhs and ums.

“They turn life’s obstacles around.” This was written by someone—like me—who knows that her students will never, ever get that tricky sequence of steps right and has convinced herself that the replacement—a chassé in a circle—is better anyway.

“They lose track of the time.” Here’s a typical conversation in my house. Husband: “How much longer will you be doing that?” Me: “I have four more counts of 8, so not long.” Husband (after hours of an Ink Master marathon): “I’m going to bed.”

“They follow their true passions.” I choreographed my first dance at age 9—“Marzipan” from Nutcracker. I was the ballerina, and I made my younger sister do the danseur part—24 one-legged front-attitude hops, arms crossed Russian-style. To this day, I’ve never seen that particular move in any other dance piece. What can I say? Pure creativity. —Karen White, Associate Editor



It Girl

It Girl walks into the studio and the floor seems to tilt; all the attention in the room slides toward her. The other girls’ glances, antennae, the pitch of their bodies are drawn to this talented, self-assured 17-year-old. She exudes an aura of sullen superiority.

“I don’t want to go to rehearsal,” It Girl says, tossing her head. “What’s she going to do? Kick me out?” Her acolytes’ eyes widen; a collective shiver of awe and excitement goes around the room.

She rolls her eyes when the ballet teacher asks her why she’s not wearing pink tights, and tells her modern teacher she doesn’t want to go to college because college dance departments suck, except for, like, Juilliard.

I know that girl all too well.

I was dedicated to dance, wanted to make it my life, and didn’t doubt that the rest of the world had been notified. It wasn’t going to be that hard. I could skip almost every loser modern-dance class in college without missing anything. Composition class was a waste of time.

Once I’d dropped out of that godforsaken college and moved to New York City, a now-well-known choreographer asked me to work with him. Naturally. Of course everyone was going to want me. When rehearsals were hard I threw tantrums. Once I kicked the wall. The concerts went well, though, and I was pleased with my performances.

It wasn’t until later, after months of working in a restaurant, that it occurred to me: that choreographer hadn’t called back. He wasn’t going to. My attitude was damaging my career and myself.

Seized by shame and panic, I vowed to work hard and take nothing for granted.

I recently saw It Girl in ballet class. Something had changed—she was taking corrections and working diligently. Her dancing was courageous and generous. Decades-old regret heightened my hope that she’d learned the lesson I had absorbed so late: that ambition isn’t enough, and that every opportunity to learn is a gift to be cherished and taken full advantage of. That there is no It without the work. —Lisa Okuhn, Associate Editor









What’s up in the dance community

Atlanta’s Own “That Girl”


Ofelia de La Valette, who opened an adult-focused dance studio, is featured in Marlo Thomas’ latest book. Photo by David Rams/David Rams Photography

When Ofelia de La Valette was a ponytailed kid growing up in New York City in the mid-‘60s, she wanted to be That Girl.

She’d watch the popular TV show of that name, idolizing its star, Marlo Thomas, “and thinking how amazing it would be to grow up and be independent and funny and smart” like Thomas’ character, she told Dance Studio Life. “Of all the TV shows or cultural influences, hers was the most impactful.”

Imagine de La Valette’s surprise two years ago when Thomas’ representatives called and began a year-long process of interviews. Apparently de La Valette’s story—born in Havana, Cuba, in 1960 to a wealthy family that fled, penniless, to NYC when she was 3; growing up poor, discovering dance at age 35, opening a studio at age 46 for adult beginners—fit the theme of Thomas’ latest book. Last month, when It Ain’t Over . . . Till It’s Over: Reinventing Your Life—and Realizing Your Dreams—Anytime, at Any Age was published, de La Valette was one of 60 women profiled in it.

De La Valette started her Atlanta studio, Dance 101, in 2004 with 36 adult students. Today her two locations serve up ballet, tap, jazz, fitness, musical theater, and more, to approximately 1,500 adults each week.

“Something magical happens to people when they dance,” she said. That Girl herself apparently agrees.





A Spitball o’ Both Your Houses


Photo by Alanna Garcia

What started the Capulet and Montague feud that led to the tragic climax of Romeo and Juliet? Was it a kickball game? Or its origin might have been an exchange of insults: “Your wife is so annoying.” Oh yeah? “Your wife is mad ugly, like you.” Or perhaps a disagreement over which family had the better baked goods was to blame.

Shakespeare didn’t say, so in American Ballet Theatre’s “Make a Ballet” program this spring, 75 fifth-graders “wrote prologues to the prologue” said Dennis J. Walters, ABT’s associate director of education and training.

For 17 years, this in-school residency program has introduced underserved New York City schoolchildren to ballet not just by getting them dancing, but also by immersing them in the many components that interact to create the art, from production to administration to design. This spring, ABT teaching artists assisted students as they discussed Romeo and Juliet’s themes, wrote soliloquies, built set pieces, and created short dances.

For a finale, 25 selected students performed their version of the ballet alongside ABT dancers in a Young People’s Ballet Workshop at the Metropolitan Opera House. “It’s not always the best dancers we select; it’s the kids who are working hard,” Walters told Dance Studio Life. “We’re not identifying dancers. What’s important to us with this program is that we’re exposing students to something new and wonderful.”


Humor Moves to Hubbard Street


Photo by Todd Rosenberg

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago thinks dance should be a laughing matter, and this fall the contemporary company plans to prove it.

The company will create an original production with Chicago’s famed comedy troupe The Second City, which has nurtured comedians such as John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Mike Myers, Steve Carrell, Tina Fey, and Stephen Colbert.

When the collaboration was announced earlier this year, the dates for the show were set—October 16 to 19—but what would appear onstage was still up in the air. Inspired by the successful pairing of The Second City and Lyric Opera of Chicago, which resulted in a revue of comedic sketches and satirical vignettes, Hubbard Street officials were certain its creative minds would click with those at The Second City.

“Improvisation is a key part of our DNA on both sides,” Hubbard Street artistic director Glenn Edgerton said in a release.





Applause for Lerman and Brown

At the opening night celebration for the Dance/USA Annual Conference, Liz Lerman and D. David Brown will be recognized for their lifelong devotion to the dance field.

Lerman’s wide-ranging career in dance included an early ’70s stint as a go-go dancer, the 1976 creation of the multifaceted artists’ collaborative Dance Exchange, a MacArthur Fellowship in 2002, and a recent turn as artist in residence at Harvard University.

Brown danced up through Boston Ballet’s ranks before embarking on an equally successful career in company management, both in several positions with Boston and as executive director of Pacific Northwest Ballet.

On June 18, Lerman will receive the Honor Award for her extraordinary leadership, while Brown will receive the Ernie (Ian “Ernie” Horvath) Award for his work behind the scenes that has empowered and supported dance artists.


A Fitting Finale

It’s poetically fitting, choreographer Trey McIntyre says, that his respected contemporary company, Trey McIntyre Project, will end its life where it began—at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.

After a fruitful decade of creating dance, McIntyre announced this winter he was disbanding his company to pursue other artistic avenues, such as film and photography.

Ella Baff, the Pillow’s executive and artistic director, said a backstage conversation with McIntyre led to a handful of Pillow performances by a pickup company of his favorite dancers in 2005 and 2006, then to Trey McIntyre Project’s official full-time debut there in 2008.

After saying goodbye in a cross-country tour this spring, TMP’s farewell shows will be held June 25 to 29 at the Pillow’s Ted Shawn Theatre, Becket, Massachusetts.




On My Mind

Words from the publisher

Most of you know the routine: three days in an auditorium at a dance competition. That’s what Jocelyn, a school owner, is doing on this particular weekend, along with her students and their parents. By the second day, she knows her dancers aren’t scoring as well as she had predicted they would. Her confidence is shot, and her first thought is to strategize a defense plan to explain to everyone why the dancers are not up to par. In politics, it’s called spin mode.

In the back of the auditorium, Jocelyn runs into a couple of moms from her school and blurts out, “It seems that the judges don’t like our stuff!” adding a big sigh and a sad face. The moms aren’t sure how to react; they smile and keep walking. Back in their seats, they talk about Jocelyn’s comment with other parents from the school. Soon all the parents are flipping out because they believe the judges don’t like their kids.

Meanwhile, backstage, Jocelyn and her teachers are in a huddle; she is ranting about how she thinks the dance competition is fixed. When she leaves the group, she says—loudly, and within earshot of the competition’s director—“It seems to me that the people who spend the most money on entry fees are the winners here.”

Jocelyn has one more stop before she goes back to her seat in the auditorium: the dressing room, where 30 excited dancers who can’t wait to perform their big production number greet her. She tries to force a smile and fails. “I’m sorry the judges don’t like you,” she says. “This whole competition is a sham!” The dancers fall silent, their excitement gone.

Back in the auditorium, Jocelyn finds herself sitting alone. Everyone—her students and their parents, her faculty, and even the competition director—knows she is not happy. Everyone wants to stay clear of her.

By Sunday morning, Jocelyn’s team is deflated, the excitement and energy the dancers brought with them completely gone. Instead, an aura of anger hangs over everyone from the school, and it’s apparent to every participant, parent, teacher, and staffer at the event. That morning at breakfast the competition director told the judges and staff that Jocelyn was furious. By this point, the spin she created has spread a black cloud over the entire event.

Driving home that night, Jocelyn plans a “nuclear” email that she will fire off to the director of the most horrible competition in the world. That will make her feel better. Or so she thinks.

I can only wonder what might have happened if, at the moment Jocelyn realized her dancers were not scoring as well as everyone had hoped, she decided to spend the rest of the weekend figuring out how to be a better teacher. What if she had said, “Boy, the students here are excellent—but I’m so proud of our kids, no matter what they score!” to anyone who would listen?

What if?





Classroom Connection

Ready, Set . . .

Covering classes when teachers call in sick can be a challenge. Substitutes are not necessarily familiar with the class level, the music for the choreography, or current class structure. I have found that doing a little extra work up front pays off.

I have a lesson plan book that never leaves our studio. The basic lesson plans for all classes and levels include a breakdown of the class, how much time is spent on each section, and what moves might be included. A plan for an 8- to 10-year-old jazz class might include: across-the-floor (15 minutes): step battements, grapevine, three-step turns, piqué turns, châiné turns, leaps.

While substitute teachers are free to adapt the lesson plan, having the plans available allows any teacher to walk in and understand a typical class for a particular age group and level. Level 2 at one studio may be completely different than level 2 at another, and subs often teach for multiple studios. Providing a few tips on what type of steps are being worked on is usually enough to give an experienced teacher insight into the level of that class.

I have also invested in an iPod that “lives” at the studio. It’s loaded with music playlists, labeled accordingly, for a basic class for each level and style. There is also a performance playlist of the songs being used for choreography. This iPod has saved us countless times when music has been left at home or a scratched CD won’t play. And it makes it easy for any instructor to walk in and cover a class without scrambling to find appropriate music.

We all know that every dance teacher deserves a day off. This system has made it easier to give my staff those days—guilt free!

—Sarah Beth Byrum



Beyond the Physical

At every age, what is taught in the dance classroom extends past the mirrored walls. Beyond movements and steps, personal, physical, emotional, and social lessons are presented.

In addition to teaching elementary ballet movement, we work with young ballet students on etiquette, good posture, and self-confidence. After learning about the origins of ballet in the royal court, young students are invited to make a “royal entrance” to an imaginary ball. They put on a real or imaginary crown and, after being announced as “Princess Brittany” or “Prince Matthew,” walk across the floor with toe-ball-heel steps, practicing foot articulation, control, and good posture. When they reach center, they curtsy or bow to the queen or king (teacher) and everyone applauds.

To enhance older students’ focus and cooperation, I partner one performer and one observer. While the class does a center combination in two groups, the observer watches the performer, on the lookout for a well-performed movement. If she sees one, she describes it to the class. During the next combination, the dancers switch roles. This activity gives dancers an incentive to perform movements as well as they can, and the observer can pay close attention to the technical aspects of a step or combination. This exercise also encourages students to offer positive reinforcement.

In another exercise that fosters cooperation, dancers choose a movement or attribute they want to improve; for example, maintaining stretched legs and feet while jumping. Their partners observe them performing a combination and assess whether improvement has been made. This exercise helps dancers learn to work together.

To develop self-discipline and problem solving, students list in a notebook one specific, measurable goal they want to achieve along with what steps they will take to accomplish it. The teacher writes comments throughout the semester to assess the students’ progress and offer encouragement. As goals are met, new ones are chosen and addressed. At the end of the year, the dancers have a tangible record of their accomplishments.

—Debbie Werbrouck



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