September 2016 | Do-It-Yourself Competitions

Every May, the weeklong BC Annual Dance Competition in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada, attracts hundreds of dancers. Founded almost three decades ago to raise the level of dance in isolated Prince Rupert, BCADC is an all-volunteer effort that runs on a strong base of community support. Photos by Laurie Gray

Competitions can be high-octane extravaganzas or simple, single-day events. Yet no matter the size or scope, at some competition somewhere a dance studio owner is bound to say, “Can you believe what’s going on? Maybe I should start my own competition. After all, how hard can it be?”

Three studio owners know exactly how hard. “We work on the competition year round,” says Teresa Mackereth of the BC Annual Dance Competition, which she founded in British Columbia, Canada, in 1988. Its organizers take only one week to decompress after each May’s weeklong event before beginning work on the following year’s. “It’s an ongoing commitment,” says Mackereth, who is also artistic director of Dance Academy of Prince Rupert. “And we have never had a paid staffer. It’s all volunteers, always.”

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September 2016 | FYI

Hip-hop dancer Aadel Qies Aadel (left), pictured with Sean Scantlebury and Mira Cook of Battery Dance Company, was killed in July’s Baghdad truck bombing. 
Photo courtesy Battery Dance Company

What’s up in the dance community

Dancer Featured in DSL Dies in Bombing

Modern Master Lubovitch Honored by ADF

Live and Print Arts Intersect in Dance Ink

Computer Careers Calling BA Dancers

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September 2016 | EditorSpeak

Photos by Chris Hardy

“Starting With Why”: I’ve just returned from three jam-packed days at the inaugural International Dance Entrepreneurs Association (I.D.E.A.) conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, where I, alongside several hundred dance studio owners and administrators, listened to speakers representing a range of school types, sizes, longevity, and business approaches. I learned a great deal from these mainstage sessions.

“Farewell to My Arabesque”: Recently I realized something: my arabesque has gone the way of the dodo. Extensions to the front and side? I’ve still got ’em, sort of. To the back? Eighteen inches off the floor—maybe.

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September 2016 | On My Mind

Photo by Mim Adkins

Today school owners want to learn to lead with confidence, both in their schools and as mentors, leaders, and teachers in their communities. They want to be part of a unified voice in dance education that stands for everything that is good for their students and the field. By working together, teachers and school owners can preserve the integrity of dance education—and, on a personal level, evolve in this exciting, ever-changing world of dance and dance studios.

I am proud to lead this call to unified action by founding the International Dance Entrepreneurs Association (I.D.E.A.), the first business association for dance school owners who are ready to stand up for a business model based on a code of ethics. In addition, I.D.E.A. focuses on cultivating new knowledge—the members’ website is loaded with management tools, e-learning courses, and webinars, along with such tools as customizable forms, correspondence, policies, coloring pages, and marketing materials. Regional professional development seminars will be held around the United States and, eventually, internationally.

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September 2016 | Performance Corner

Mark Morris (above) and Azerbaijani vocalists Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova (below) collaborated on Layla and Majnun, based on a 7th-century Persian love story. Top photo by Amber Star; bottom photo by David O’Connor

Our sneak peek at dance shows we’d love to see

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September 2016 | Bulletin Board

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Dance in Time: September
Quotable: Dancers on Dance

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September 2016 | 2 Tips for Modern & Contemporary Teachers

Photo by Carolyn DiLoretto

Tip 1
Young dancers often become self-conscious and timid when asked simply to walk; make sure to teach students this necessary skill.
Tip 2
Are your students stuck in the mirror? They may be addicted to looking at their own images, or they may be using the mirror as a tool to mask sequencing problems. In my own teaching, I became weary of repeating, “Don’t get stuck in the mirror.” One day, instead of repeating myself once again, I pointed at the mirror and shouted, “She lies!” This broke the students out of their mirror stupor with a laugh; for the rest of class, they used the mirror less. I now use this idea almost daily. When I notice students focusing on the mirror, I point to it and say, “What does she do?” The students respond with a resounding “She lies!” As a result of this practice, my students now depend less on the mirror.

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September 2016 | 2 Tips for Tap Teachers

Photo by Robert Rosen

Tip 1
The start of a new dance season is a perfect opportunity to spice up your tap program with new ideas that will reinforce your lessons and inspire students to practice.
Tip 2
Flash cards with one-bar rhythm phrases can provide a wealth of teaching moments. Whether dancers are novices or experienced tappers, the clarity of their sounds depends on their ability to reproduce specific rhythms, and seeing a phrase in addition to hearing and doing it will help bring success. In particular, when dancers see the rests, or silent notes, in a rhythm, they are more likely to respect them and produce accurate footwork.

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September 2016 | Thinking Out Loud | Totally Teamwork

Photo by Elizabeth Lamp

Sometimes we learn lessons from the most unusual situations or, in an incident involving my students, even objects. This year, my school’s competition team learned the value of teamwork as the result of a Frisbee.

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September 2016 | Venue Vagabond

As an adjudicator, Diane Gudat travels often and far, including to Pretoria, South Africa, where this photo was taken. Photo courtesy Diane Gudat

At dance competitions, it’s easy to be critical of the judging panel. Teachers and parents spend hours staring at the back of the judges’ heads trying to gain clues from their posture about what they’re thinking, and they study the judges’ biographies. Who are these people who will critique and rank their students or children?

But how many people know what goes into judging a competition? Not that many. I have been a dance adjudicator for more than 30 years, and it’s always an honor and a privilege to do this job. But it’s not always what people expect! Here’s a glimpse into the on-the-road life of people like me.

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September 2016 | Ballet Scene | Performing With the Pros

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From a young age, dance students idolize professional dancers—and that’s a good thing. They need someone to look up to and goals to aspire to that go beyond their home studio’s doors. That’s why creating opportunities for students to engage with professional dancers is important—it allows them to see that with enough work and dedication, dance training can have long-term payoffs. Even if they have no interest in or potential for a career in dance, students who enjoy the thrill of sharing a studio or stage with the pros may find that the experience deepens their appreciation of dance, motivates them to push past personal limits, and creates long-lasting memories.

How can studio owners create such opportunities for their students? Some ballet companies open their annual Nutcracker to local dancers, particularly children’s roles; school owners can inform students about upcoming auditions. But some schools do more than that, partnering with dance companies on productions that blend professionals and students and giving the students a performance experience they otherwise wouldn’t get.

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September 2016 | So You Wanna Be a Judge

Along with dance knowledge and communication skills, adjudicators need a positive attitude and cheerful demeanor. ABOVE: Chris Rutledge (front, on floor), Chad Azadan (center, in fedora), and Kim Borgaro (far right) join Spotlight competitors for a moment of levity. TOP: Phil Colgan, Matt Lopez, and Anthony Raimondi brighten up a Groove competition. Top photo courtesy Groove Competition; bottom photo by dancepix.com

It’s September, and all around the United States kids are returning to school and dance studios are beginning their fall sessions. This is also the time of year when competition directors begin hiring adjudicators for the upcoming season. If you aim to book your first gig as a competition judge this year, it’s time to make your move. Put your best foot forward with these tips from three competition directors and three seasoned adjudicators.

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September 2016 | Smart Cycles

Teachers who plan a year’s training regimen can consider when their students will be most fit and ready for physical challenges, and when more attention should be paid to warm-ups and stretching. Left photo by Jennifer Repp

At the University at Buffalo, where I teach, the dance and athletic departments stand side by side. I often cite this architectural relationship as a metaphor for the two sides of a dancer—one part artist and one part athlete.

The benefits to dancers of aerobic exercise, weight training, and cross-training are common knowledge. Less widely understood is what dance teachers can learn and integrate into their work from the field of athletics, specifically the concept of periodization, which I learned about at an International Association for Dance Medicine and Science conference. Let’s look at how we can apply this idea to dance education in order to support students’ growth, health, and safety.

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August 2016 | Treasure Troves of Dance

6. This "Senorita" design plate, by set and costume designer Leonard Weisgard for San Francisco Ballet's 1954 production of The Nutcracker, is housed at the Museum of Performance +Design. Photo 6 courtesy MP+D

These days, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t do research online, whether it’s for nuggets of dance history, video clips of famous dances or dancers, photos, reviews, or even song lyrics. The riches that can be found keep expanding as more and more established dance institutions digitize their collections and wet-behind-the-ears organizations take steps into archival territory. We’ve collected many of these archives here. Some are searchable sites where you’re likely to tumble into a deep “research rabbit hole,” some are aggregates of archives, and some list holdings that are viewable only in physical locations. We hope you’ll find something that sparks your curiosity, increases your knowledge, and reignites your creative spirit.

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August 2016 | That’s the I.D.E.A.

Rhee Gold announces his new venture, I.D.E.A., to dance educators at the Phoenician. Photo by Richard Calmes

Anyone can have a good idea, but it takes determination, guts, and know-how to turn that raw idea into reality. From Rhee Gold’s many good ideas in the past 20-plus years have sprung a successful dance competition, a series of practical and motivational seminars for dance educators, a dance education–focused magazine, and more.

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August 2016 | Tell It Like It Is

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When it comes to teacher evaluations, dance studio owners could benefit from adopting some common practices in the business world. Teacher evaluations benefit employees and studios alike, providing a system for reflection, assessment, goal setting, and decisions about compensation.

In the business world, where many people work full time for one employer, typically there is a formal process for evaluations, reviews, and pay increases, usually on a yearly basis. But in dance studios, many owners hire part-time teachers (either as employees or independent contractors) and have no formal system of evaluation or raises. Formal evaluations and systematic pay increases can be difficult to implement in schools where staff turnover is frequent.

In exploring the topic of evaluations and pay increases, we surveyed 100 dance teachers at studios in 22 states. Their feedback is synthesized here to offer suggestions for best practices when hiring and evaluating teachers.

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August 2016 | Page Turners

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Books of note (new and not)
1. The Art of Grace: On Moving Well Through Life
2. Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker
3. Safe Dance Practice: An Applied Dance Science PerspectiveBody, Mind & Spirit in Action: A Teacher’s Guide to Creative Dance (2nd ed.)

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August 2016 | EditorSpeak

Photos by Chris Hardy

“The Teachers in My Village”: It takes a village to raise a child, the proverb says. As I type these words, it’s the last week of school—recitals over, summer stretching ahead—but when they appear in print, it will be August and time to gear up for the fall. At both times in the year, my mind dwells on my village, and especially on the teachers.

“New Season’s Greetings”: This is the time of year when we welcome students back into the dance studio. The new school season is also an apt time to reflect, as Tamsin does above, on the value of teachers—and, I would add, support staff.

To that end, among the stories in this issue designed to help you make the most of the new season, you’ll find one about best practices for teacher evaluation, compensation, and pay increases, and another about studio owners who delegate tasks and programs—social media and marketing, children’s birthday parties, preschool programs, staff recognition, and more—to paid support staff positions.

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August 2016 | On My Mind

Photo by Mim Adkins

Not too long ago, marketing at most dance schools meant investing big bucks in printing, postage, and newspaper ads. Many school owners couldn’t pay for that kind of marketing, but nowadays, social media puts all schools on a level playing field. My motto is “Give it the time, and it will give you the return.” Where many school owners make mistakes, however—and squelch their social media success—is in moving beyond dance into hot-topic issues in their posts.

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August 2016 | FYI

Smithsonian culture lab CrossLines, about intersectionalit, featured works by 40 visual and performing artists,  including dancer/choreographer Anjal Chande and historian Nico Slate. Photo by Samir Mirza

What’s up in the dance community

The Smithsonian Embraces Dance

Children Connect Through Dance

Lend an Ear to New Ballet Podcasts

UDMA: Showtime in New England

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August 2016 | Bright Biz Idea | Social Media Gurus and Sunshine Directors

ABOVE LEFT AND RIGHT AND BOTTOM LEFT: In Sync Center of the Arts' sunshine director, Amy Stanton, brings smiles to students and leaves holiday gifts for the staff. FAR RIGHT: In Sync teacher Mary Quigg is also birthday party director, an essential role due to the large number of parties the school hosts. Photos courtesy In Sync Center of the Arts

Many school owners, when they think of hiring non-teaching support staff, want someone to run the front desk. However, in the 21st century, operating a dance studio requires not only a website but also a social media presence, marketing skills, and, often, offerings beyond dance classes, such as birthday parties and competition teams. Studio owners who limit their employee roster to teachers and receptionists may be missing out on creative ways to boost revenue. Read on to explore how some studio owners are delegating important roles, freeing themselves to focus on teaching and their school’s overall health.

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August 2016 | Higher-Ed Voice | Life as an Adjunct

Kao teaches at the Alonzo King Lines BFA program in San Francisco. Photo by Katie Wong

Thousands of dancers, choreographers, and dance intellectuals dream of teaching at the college level, and why not? A job in higher ed means working in their chosen field, often with inspiring young artists and creative colleagues. To sweeten the pot, a full-time position can translate into a month off during the school year, summers free, a workweek seemingly shaped by a handful of classes, grants for travel to conferences, additional funds for research and/or choreography, and a living wage with real benefits. At a time when most people are lucky to get two weeks of paid vacation, medical coverage, and a consistent salary, what could be rosier?

That depends. Like the pretty settings of British TV mysteries, where lilacs bloom and hedgerows are always tidy, the allures of college teaching can be deceiving. For example, teachers who lack career security (adjunct faculty) now represent the majority of higher-ed instructors, and they can earn as little as $20 an hour despite advanced degrees and a lifetime of dance training. These at-will dance instructors typically get no benefits of any kind, teach at an hourly rate regardless of how many courses they have, and can find their classes cancelled in a flash if enrollments don’t meet the increasingly high quotas set by college administrations. Some are excluded from the workings of their departments and rarely know what changes are coming until they arrive. As a result, adjuncts can be written out of the curriculum as easily as characters are killed off in Midsomer Murders.

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August 2016 | College Close-Ups | University of Minnesota–Twin Cities

Performance opportunities include informal showings, fully produced concerts such as University Dance Theatre, and collaborative performances in the university's West Bank Arts Quarter. All photos by Brandon Stengel, Farm Kid Studios

The University of Minnesota–Twin Cities campus covers more than a thousand acres in Minneapolis and St. Paul; the campus’ East and West Banks, straddling the Mississippi River, are conveniently close to Minneapolis’s downtown, government, and cultural districts. The Twin Cities is home to a thriving and diverse dance community, and the location of the campus expressly facilitates collaboration with local arts organizations.

The dance program focuses on contemporary dance in a global context through four curricular areas: technique, performance, composition, and dance studies. Faculty members encourage students to examine dance beyond its physical characteristics. The program’s motto is “Thought and Motion,” highlighting the idea of thinking dancers and dancing thinkers.

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August 2016 | 2 Music Tips for Dance Teachers | Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty

Photo courtesy Nina Pinzarrone

Tip 1
Before The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky and Petipa first collaborated on The Sleeping Beauty (1889), with Petipa providing detailed descriptions of his musical requirements. Listen to the overture for the two leitmotifs that, throughout the ballet, represent the conflict between good and evil: strident, disjointed chords for the fairy Carabosse; and lush, lyrical music, like a barcarolle (a lilting piece that imitates gondolier songs) for the Lilac Fairy.
Tip 2
The story’s 100-year time span gave Tchaikovsky the opportunity to explore various historical dance forms. Act 1’s waltz (no. 6) is a wonderful piece for introducing waltz steps. Try Act 2’s gavotte (no. 12c) with tendus in center, or Act 3’s polonaise (no. 22) with grands battements or polonaise walks.

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August 2016 | Soccer, Superheroes, and Dance

Ailey Athletic Boys Dance classes at The Ailey School, while structured, are faster paced than classes for girls and include time for free dance. Photo by Eduardo Patino courtesy The Ailey School

Attracting boys to dance has never been easy. It doesn’t matter that football players like Hall of Famer Lynn Swann or the New York Jets’ Steve McLendon took ballet and it improved their game, or that Lionel Messi looks like a ballet dancer when he shows how to control the soccer ball. With some exceptions—hip-hop is the most obvious—there are deep-rooted obstacles to getting boys into the studio.

. . . As Nikolai Kabaniaev at City Ballet School in San Francisco notes, “It’s not lucrative to have boys-only [classes] in this country.” He’s fortunate that his directors have made the commitment to “do whatever it takes.”

Along with City Ballet’s introductory dance classes for boys, there are other success stories that offer insight for studio owners who are trying, or hoping, to bring in the boys.

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August 2016 | 2 Tips for Tap Teachers | Military Tap Dance

Photo by Robert Rosen

Tip 1
There’s nothing like a flag-waving, rhythmically precise tap dance to lift spirits and boost interest in tap. In 1904, George M. Cohan danced the buck and wing to his song “Yankee Doodle Boy” to embody his proud American heritage. During World War I, Broadway chorus girls danced “soldier” numbers that integrated tap and stepping sounds. Later, movie musicals like Gold Diggers of 1937 (1936), featuring Busby Berkeley’s amazing formations, and Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), with James Cagney’s patriotic strutting, helped introduce military-style tap to a larger population. With their precision and fast footwork, traditional military routines are still a hit. For music, try a version of “Yankee Doodle,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” fife and drum tunes, military anthems, and armed forces medleys.
Tip 2
Though military tap can be challenging, beginners can combine marching steps with single sounds, hops, ball changes, and shuffles in straight quarter- and eighth-note time. Add simple but precise formations with quarter- and half-turns; use an upbeat tune like “MacNamara’s Band” to inspire students to dance like they’re in a parade, lifting knees high and moving with pride and joy.

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August 2016 | Thinking Out Loud | Dance Class Matters

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As a teacher at University at Buffalo [NY], I often rant about how the act of taking class needs to be practiced and developed like any other skill. Recently, a senior taped a piece of poster board that said “Class Matters” to the studio door, to remind her younger classmates that much of their growth occurs in class and that they should take it seriously.

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August 2016 | Performance Corner

Tulsa's Summer Heat International Dance Festival features Randy James' kid-friendly modern dance production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wordrobe. Shown: Monica Gonzalez (Lucy) and Robert Mark Burke (Mr. Tumnus). Photo by Richard Termine

Our sneak peek at dance shows we’d love to see

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August 2016 | Bulletin Board: Pin, Post, Share

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Dance in Time: August
Dancers on Dance

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August 2016 | 2 Tips for Modern & Contemporary Teachers | “Relinquish Your Ribs” and Rhythmic Turns

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Tip 1
When students’ ribs are splayed, it probably means they are not engaging the abdominal muscles correctly. Throughout my early training, instructors would often tell me to engage the abdominals by puffing out my chest and sucking in my stomach, using words like “hold,” “grip,” “tighten,” and “squeeze.” Unfortunately, this created tension in my torso and was a terrible waste of energy. I was well into my 20s and taking class with the great Susan McGuire (a longtime Paul Taylor dancer) when I heard her say, “Relinquish your ribs.”

Tip 2.
Multiple turns are not the province of ballet only; modern and contemporary choreographers do sometimes ask for them. Yet this skill can be enigmatic. Turns come and go, and sometimes we wonder if we ever understood them. At times in my performing career, turns came easily; at others, they eluded me. Then, during one period of excellent turning, it dawned on me that when I was “on,” my turns flowed with the music. The rhythms of my head spotting and my body turning were harmonious.

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July 2016 | Bulletin Board: Pin, Post, Share

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Dance in Time: July
Quotable: Dancers on Dance

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July 2016 | Moving Images

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Videos of note (new and not)
1. Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary
2. Ze’eva Cohen: Creating a Life in Dance
3. Nutcracker Sweeties/The Judas Tree
4. Paul Taylor Dance Company in Paris

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July 2016 | Page Turners

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Books of note (new and not)
1. The Artist’s Compass: The Complete Guide to Building a Life and a Living in the Performing Arts
2. Dance Production: Design & Technology
3. Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova
4. Raising the Barre: Big Dreams, False Starts, and My Midlife Quest to Dance The Nutcracker

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July 2016 | Hope for the Holidays

Performing with the HopeKids children is eye opening and inspiring for DC2's students.

The Valley of the Sun, a prosperous swath of south-central Arizona that includes the greater Phoenix area, cradles Dance Connection 2, in suburban Chandler. DC2, as it’s known locally, was spun off 28 years ago from Scottsdale’s Dance Connection studio by MaryAnna Gooch, now 72. Several years ago Gooch decided to dedicate the school’s Christmastime show to charity, choosing HopeKids Arizona, a nonprofit organization that serves children with life-threatening illnesses, as beneficiary.

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July 2016 | FYI

Ballet educator Jo Rowan will receive ADCC's 2016 Lifeltime Achievement Award and Choreographer Bill T. Jones will be recognized with an International Humanities Medal. Left photo courtesy ADCC; right photo by Christina Lane

What’s up in the dance community:
Bringing Ballet to DC’s Youth
TADA! to Create Dance Credential in California
Recognition for Jones, Rowan

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July 2016 | EditorSpeak

Photo by Chris Hardy

“Not Exactly Billy Elliot”: As a boy growing up in the 1970s in a small, rural county that had one dance school and one male student—the owner’s son—I couldn’t imagine getting a dance education. Mine wasn’t an Appalachian coal mining town equivalent to the mid-1980s Northern England in Billy Elliot, but in retrospect it seems close: a pulpwood company town of unions, strikes, and factory chimneys pumping out smoke.
“Autism in Girls”: The story made so much sense that it was like reading news I already knew. “Autism—It’s Different in Girls” (Scientific American Mind, March 2016) looks at new research and suggests the reason boys diagnosed with autism far outnumber diagnosed girls (generally, 4 to 1) is that autism in girls doesn’t resemble autism in boys.

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July 2016 | Creative Concepts

Fresh tunes and colorful costumes set the tone for Maywood Fine Arts Association's annual holiday productions. Photo by Spooner Baumann

Does that Nutcracker recording keep buzzing in your head from September through December? Some dance school owners and teachers think so, and they’ve decided not to follow the Sugar Plum Fairy’s lead. Included here are four directors who have created or produced holiday shows that offer alternatives to The Nutcracker and still draw audiences.

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July 2016 | Sister Studios

A spirit of collegiality shared by studio owners (from left) Tari Ott, Doug Brown, Nikkie Frost, and Amy Gillett benefits both themselves and their students. Photo by Chelsea Norris

Forget the stereotypes of backstabbing and rudeness among studio owners—competitiveness doesn’t have to be the norm. Nor do studio owners have to feel alone in facing challenges, from fundraising to coping with difficult clients. Those who team up in sister-studio relationships often find unexpected benefits.

Some studio owners share resources such as costumes, teachers, and even students. They collaborate on shows to reduce the burden of production costs as well as expose their students to new ideas and ways of thinking. Perhaps most significant, they lean on each other for moral support and answers to questions that only another studio owner can understand.

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July 2016 | Save the Date

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Studio-created custom calendars are a fun way to celebrate your students, and they serve practical purposes at the same time—raising funds, keeping families informed, and serving as marketing tools. They can also be great holiday season gifts for anyone with ties to the school. We spoke with three studio owners who created three very different calendars and learned about the process and practicalities, from brainstorming to designing to selling.

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July 2016 | College Close-Ups | West Virginia University

oursework for the BA program encompasses ballet, modern, contemporary, jazz, and tap.

The 15 colleges and schools of West Virginia University (WVU), in Morgantown, offer 193 bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and professional degree programs. Dance program director Yoav Kaddar considers it his mission to integrate dance into “the academic tapestry of the university. Everyone can find their niche in our bachelor of arts in dance program,” he says, “or they can enhance their primary academic program with a minor in dance.”

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July 2016 | 2 Music Tips for Dance Teachers | Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker

Photo courtesy Nina Pinzarrone

Tip 1 For many dancers and musicians, the holiday season is synonymous with The Nutcracker. Tchaikovsky’s 1892 score, composed according to Petipa’s libretto, is fascinating in many ways. The orchestration includes toy instruments and the celesta, a recently invented cross between a piano and glockenspiel. Its silvery sound fit perfectly Petipa’s instructions that the Sugar Plum Fairy variation evoke water splashing in fountains.

Tip 2 The Nutcracker includes many dances that work well for class. In Act 1, try the March (no. 2) with marches in children’s class and the Gallop (no. 3) with gallops and spring points in 2/4. In Act 2, try a section of the accelerating Russian Trepak (no. 12d) with turns from the corner, the Spanish Bolero (no. 12a) with pirouettes and pas de basques in center, and the Tarantella (no. 14, first male variation) with frappés at the barre.

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May-June 2016 | In Pursuit of Diversity

Embracing diversity should include accepting variations for standard practices, such as these TWB@THEARC students' braided buns. Photo by media4artists, Theo Kossenas

“Attracting minority dancers is tough,” says Cheryl Taylor, school administrator at Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center (CMDC), a school that she says draws nonwhite students by offering a welcoming environment, high-quality classical ballet training, and modern/contemporary choreography. “But I think to survive, dance—and ballet in particular—has to be for kids of all colors. We have to open the doors and let others in.”

Attracting and keeping students of color not only ensures that all children have the opportunity to dance, it also enlarges the role dance schools play in ensuring that ballet and other dance forms thrive. By broadening their student base, dance studios have the potential to increase their enrollment and attract new audiences.

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May-June 2016 | Thinking Out Loud | Dancing to Freedom

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It happened so fast: one day, 24 months ago, I began learning basic modern dance techniques like roll-downs and tendus. After that, I performed in several shows for 100-plus audience members. Now I’m paying it forward by teaching others how to dance. And I’m incarcerated!

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May-June 2016 | 2 Tips for Modern & Contemporary Teachers | Healthy Heads and Sequence Recall

Photo by Carolyn DiLoretto

Tip 1
Maintaining a healthy head position is a constant challenge for students at every level. Students often jut the chins forward, which can create a number of problems with alignment. This first came to my attention while I was recovering from rotator cuff surgery. My physical therapist pointed out that my chin was out and the base of my skull was sinking into my cervical spine. “That’s why you have shoulder problems,” he said.
Tip 2
Maintaining a healthy head position is a constant challenge for students at every level. Students often jut the chins forward, which can create a number of problems with alignment. This first came to my attention while I was recovering from rotator cuff surgery. My physical therapist pointed out that my chin was out and the base of my skull was sinking into my cervical spine. “That’s why you have shoulder problems,” he said.

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May-June 2016 | Moving Images

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Videos of note (new and not)
1. Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil Le Clercq
2. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Beyond the Steps
3. Accent on the Offbeat
4. Capturing Grace

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