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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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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May-June 2016 | Page Turners

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Books of note (new and not)
1. The Cycle: A Practical Approach to Managing Arts Organizations
2. Rupert Can Dance
3. Spinning Mambo Into Salsa: Caribbean Dance in Global Commerce
4. Up to This Pointe

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May-June 2016 | FYI

Salve Regina University students Danielle Gionet and Casey Sheehan perform choreography by assistant professor Lindsay Guarino, whose book on jazz dance inspired an NDEO conference. Photo by Kim Fuller, courtesy Salve Regina University

What’s up in the dance community

Training to Teach Special Populations

Defining Jazz Dance

Entrances and Exits

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May-June 2016 | On My Mind

Photo by Mim Adkins

Sometimes when I tell people that I believe dance can change lives, I receive skeptical reactions, especially from non-dance people. Maybe they’d change their minds if they heard about Pierson Feeney, an 11-year-old who lives in D’Iberville, Mississippi, and takes dance classes at Gulf Coast School of Performing Arts. The Kansas City Star recently reprinted a story about him, and I want to share it with you.

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May-June 2016 | EditorSpeak

Photo by Chris Hardy

“Mindful Diversity”: In this issue we explore racial and cultural diversity in dance schools and why it’s important. You can read about that in the story, which starts on page 82; what I want to do here is make a pitch for diversity in a broader sense.

“Honor or Insult?”: Not long ago, a high school in Utah found itself in hot water over a drill team dance. Clad in Native American–themed costumes, feathers, and braided wigs, the students pounded their feet, spun, and raised their arms to a recording of drums and eagle screeches. One parent, a member of the Paiute tribe, felt her culture was being mocked, and her unhappy post led to an apology from the school. The number was withdrawn, never to be performed again.

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May-June 2016 | 2 Tips for Hip-Hop Teachers | Explosive Movement and Social Dancing

Photo by Bill H

Tip 1
An explosive quality (driven by the energy of the music) is inherent to hip-hop. The ability to execute explosive movements—sudden, decisive, and fast—makes a dancer stand out onstage.
Tip 2
Encourage students to dance with each other in public as well as in class. While the studio is a great starting point, hip-hop dance is an art form that can be fully realized only when danced as a community, in a social setting.

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May-June 2016 | 2 Music Tips for Dance Teachers | Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake

Photo courtesy Nina Pinzarrone

Tip 1
With Swan Lake (1876), Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893) became the second composer of symphonic stature to write a ballet score. (The first was Léo Delibes, whose Sylvia premiered seven years earlier.) Ignorant of balletic compositional techniques, Tchaikovsky studied the specialists—Adolphe Adam and Ludwig Minkus—to determine length and tempos for individual dances. However, Tchaikovsky used a complex system of key relationships and applied symphonic scoring techniques to create more interesting sonorities. His innovations include using two or more solo instruments within a variation (in Act 1’s pas de trois, the third variation’s melody moves from clarinet to flute to oboe, then back to clarinet) and unorthodox instrumentation (the swan theme, which ends Act 1 and bookends Act 2, combines oboe, tremolo strings, and harp).
Tip 2
Like the specialists, Tchaikovsky included many dance forms in Swan Lake. The waltzes (Act 1, score no. 2, “Peasant Dance”; Act 2, no. 13, “Waltz of the Swans”; Act 3, no. 17, “Waltz of the Fiancées”) show a sophisticated use of melodic material. Listen for cross-phrasing—lengthening the musical phrase by tying over a bar’s third beat into the next bar’s first beat—in “Fiancées,” and for the melody in “Peasant Dance” starting on the bar’s second beat against the accompaniment’s consistent “oom pah pah” rhythm.

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May-June 2016 | 2 Tips for Ballet Teachers | Leg Stretches on the Barre

Photo by Becky Montalvo

Tip 1
I love walking into a studio where dancers are busy stretching quietly before class or rehearsal. Encourage students to leave conversations outside. When they pass through the studio door, they should enter a quiet and peaceful dance space.
Tip 2
When stretching the leg in devant on the barre, it’s helpful to think of keeping the supporting hip as close to the barre as possible and the working hip perpendicular to the barre. As dancers transition in devant from attitude to a fully extended leg, to relevé, to stretching the split, they must concentrate on keeping the legs crossed. The stretch should be felt equally in the supporting hip and the working inner thigh. Make sure students don’t add stress to the supporting knee by not pulling up or by leaving too much weight in the heel.

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May-June 2016 | Higher-Ed Voice | Making the Grade

Students at the University of Illinois are assessed on eagerness, effort, and understanding as well as technique. Photo by Natalie Fiol

As the director of Dance Theatre of Harlem School, Endalyn Taylor had plenty of experience with assessing students. During her 10 years at the school, which included serving as assistant director for education and outreach, the former Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) ballerina scrutinized dancers at all levels, from beginners to those in the pre-professional group that fed into the company.

But when she left the DTH School in 2014 to become an assistant professor of dance at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Taylor confronted a dilemma new to her: how to assign academic grades to students’ classroom performance that would be honest from her perspective as a professional dancer yet fair to her students.

“When I started teaching at the university, I brought my history of teaching and training with me—and that was a very conservatory-dance mindset, where what I was mostly looking for was how well someone executed [technique],” Taylor says.

She adds that even though her department uses a syllabus and grading rubric that measures aspects other than technical competence (such as attitude and understanding concepts and principles), the focus on technique still left her with questions about her approach to grading. “I had wonderful students who were so very present in the class,” she says. “Maybe they didn’t come in with the best aesthetic or physical ability, but they were the most giving; they had a certain energy.”

She says she changed her approach this school year. “Now my mindset has shifted to how they’re progressing, how they’re working, the qualities of the movement, their approach to corrections, and not so much ‘This person’s leg doesn’t go up as high’ [as those of other students].”

Taylor isn’t alone. Message boards, social media threads, and conference speeches and workshops abound with discussions about the complexities of applying academic grades to the art of dance.

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May-June 2016 | 2 Tips for Tap Teachers | Pickups

Photo by Robert Rosen

Tip 1
Pickups are sometimes called pullbacks or grab-offs. For many teachers, “pickup” best describes the action of spanking up, not back. With weight on the ball of the action foot, the toe tap spanks (brushes) upward before landing back on the ball.
Tip 2
There are three basic types of pickups.

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May-June 2016 | College Close-Ups | West Texas A&M University

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“Feels like home” is the motto of Canyon, Texas, a thriving, intimate town in the Texas Panhandle that’s home to West Texas A&M University, or WT. Not far from Palo Duro Canyon State Park, home of the nation’s second-largest canyon, WT has a kindred adventuring spirit that also runs through its dance program. The program is committed to providing real-world experiences inside and outside the university setting.

The WT dance program is anchored by a performance-oriented BFA degree. Faculty aim to develop well-rounded performers with ample exposure to a range of styles and experiences, intellectually and physically, at home and abroad. National and international guest artists who visit each year have taught classes and choreographed for the program in numerous styles: ballet, modern, tap, jazz, and hip-hop.

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May-June 2016 | Virtual Identity: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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Dance is a spare art. It can be practiced with few accoutrements—at minimum, only the body. Dance studios can be similarly low-tech affairs: any empty room will do. But when it comes to the virtual realm, careful attention must be paid—not only to what is used, but how. The world is watching, which means presentation is critical. It’s not enough for school owners simply to have an online presence; they need to portray themselves and their schools in a positive, professional way.

Here to tell us how to do that are Teri Mangiaratti, owner and director of In Sync Center of the Arts in Quincy, Massachusetts, and Patty Polanski Neal, founder and CEO of Dance Spectrum in Depew, New York. They share their tips on managing websites and using social media to build community.

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March-April 2016 | College Close-Ups | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Shade! (The Secret Dance of Trees), by lecturer C. Kemal Nance, was selected for American College Dance Association's 2015 North-Central Conference gala concert.

A public, research-intensive university in central Illinois, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) consists of 16 major academic colleges and instructional “units” and provides more than 150 undergraduate programs and 100-plus graduate and professional programs. Among these is the department of dance, Dance at Illinois, which offers BFA, BA (forthcoming in 2016), and MFA degrees, and a graduate dance minor.

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March-April 2016 | 2 Music Tips for Dance Teachers | Polonaise vs Mazurka

Photo courtesy Nina Pinzarrone

Tip 1Polonaise or mazurka? It can be hard to know which to use for an exercise. These Polish national dances have similarities: both are in triple meter (3/4 time), use six-count (two-bar) melodic phrases, and accent each bar’s second beat.
Tip 2Try these pointers for using polonaises and mazurkas in class:

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March-April 2016 | Thinking Out Loud | The Unseen Student

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As a dance educator for 20 years and a dancer for 29, I have experienced a spectrum of teacher-to-student relationships. I know that it’s natural for teachers to scan a classroom and group the students according to their abilities; doing so helps us systemize an approach for teaching each student. It’s also natural to be drawn to those students who excel and are easily engaged.

This is where things get tricky for dance educators. As teachers, we have to use our excitement to steer the class and put all students on a path of discovery through the lessons we prepare. This positive driving force sometimes causes us to overlook the dancers who don’t immediately grasp our concepts.

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March-April 2016 | Tap Festivals

It’s all about fleet feet and rhythmic “soles” when the Vancouver International Tap Dance Festival runs September 2-4. Photo courtesy Vancouver International Tap Dance Festival

Tap festivals are a great place to learn a new step, hone an old one, put a shine on your shuffle, or just make a joyous noise. Check our listings to find your perfect fit.

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March-April 2016 | Unparalleled Peabody

Into the 1920's, Peabody classes combined barefoot aesthetic dancing with movement emphasizing dance sculptural qualities. Photo courtesy Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University

As one of the oldest music conservatories in the United States, the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University has changed the scope and scale of cultural offerings and the arts, not only in its home city but across the nation. Philanthropist George Peabody, a British American financier who is considered the first modern philanthropist, founded the namesake school in Baltimore in 1857 because he “believed in the power of the artist to enrich the lives of others,” according to the institute.

At its inception, the Peabody Institute was solely a school of music. While its contributions to the development of classical music have been unparalleled over the past 150 years (it is one of the oldest, most prestigious music conservatories in the U.S.), few people know about the lively and groundbreaking dance history that played out in the studios and concert hall in Peabody’s beautiful columned, stone-and-brick edifice. It’s history that’s still being made today.

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March-April 2016 | 2 Tips for Modern & Contemporary Teachers | Parallel and Taylor Chassé

Photo by Carolyn DiLoretto

Tip 1
The parallel position is an important aesthetic aspect of modern dance and promotes good alignment of the legs and spine. It’s often difficult, however, for students to maintain a good sense of parallel, and sometimes awakening their awareness of parallel can be more challenging than helping them find turnout.
Tip 2 My old boss Paul Taylor uses the chassé as his go-to traveling step in almost every one of his dances. The Taylor chassé is different from the ballet or jazz chassé.

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March-April 2016 | Powerhouse of Jazz

Jackie Sleight first stepped into a dance class at age 18, yet she has carved out a high-powered career in commercial dance and co-founded the massively popular L.A. DanceMagic convention. Photo by Michael Higgins Photography

To say that Jackie Sleight exudes charisma is akin to saying a lion sports a mane.

Like a bolt of electricity, Sleight (pronounced “slight”) zigzags around the stage at a recent L.A. DanceMagic (LADM) convention class, belting out directions, corrections, and humor-filled tidbits. Wearing black yoga pants and mid-calf boots and flicking her fire-red hair, she’s an über-mom for a sea of eager teenagers jazzing to a recording of “Vegas Lights” by Panic! At the Disco. Sleight wants the best for them, and in her purview nothing less than aiming for perfection is acceptable.

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March-April 2016 | Moving Images

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Videos of note (new and not)
1. Breath Made Visible
2. Mark Morris Dance Group: L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato
3. A Good Man
4. Test

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March-April 2016 | Page Turners

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Books of note (new and not)
1. Dumpy La Rue
2. Making Music for Modern Dance: Collaboration in the Formative Years of a New American Art
3. Dance Science: Anatomy, Movement Analysis, Conditioning
4. My Story, My Dance: Robert Battle’s Journey to Alvin Ailey

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March-April 2016 | EditorSpeak

Photo by Chris Hardy

“Put On Your Red Shoes . . .”: In 1983, David Bowie extended an invitation: “Let’s Dance.” The title track of his Grammy Award–nominated album provided the focus for the first mixtape I ever created, and the inspiration that same year to enter—and complete—a 12-hour dance marathon benefiting a housing project. But for me, and countless others in the 1970s and ’80s, Bowie offered much more than an invitation to dance. For LGBT youth, in particular, Bowie’s mere existence could be a lifeline.

“Just Dance”: The teacher’s dilemma was common, one about mean girls and ugly tweets and hurt feelings. “Help,” she cried out on Facebook. Thanks to team-building exercises and a party, the year had started out splendidly, but now she wondered what to do.

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March-April 2016 | FYI

A new Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival educational offering is based on the workshop process that created Urban Bush Women's Walking With 'Trane. Photo by Julieta Cervantes

What’s up in the dance community
Collaborative Learning
Tapping Into History
De Vita Hands ABT School Leadership to Harvey
A Merger of Music and Dance

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March-April 2016 | On My Mind

Photo by Mim Adkins

Winning (or not) is part of competition, but the process is what offers the most gain for the kids. It bothers me when teachers, dancers, and parents can’t see the life lessons because they are so focused on winning. The high level of commitment expected of today’s competitive dancers is an excellent teacher of how to balance demands (of academics and of dance), to understand sacrifice, to appreciate the results of hard work, and so much more.

During this competition season, then, let’s all recognize the process as much as we do the outcome.

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March-April 2016 | Modern Dance ABCs

PeiJu Chien-Pott of the Martha Graham Dance Company displays the powerful, dramatic force of Graham technique in Andonis Foniadakis' Echo. Photo by Sinru Ku

You’ve decided to add modern technique to your studio’s offerings, and now you’re wondering which style would be a good fit. Will your students be swayed by the intensity of Graham? The power of Horton? The clarity of Cunningham? The fluidity of release? Or the exploration of Gaga? Which style will they enjoy—and which one do they need?

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March-April 2016 | Bright Biz Idea | Isadora, Martha, and You

Modern dance study allows students from the Tanner Dance Program at the University of Utah to explore new ways of expressing themselves through dance. Photo by Jeff Allred

Ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, and hip-hop—every dance teacher knows these are dance school staples. Many schools also offer something they call “contemporary,” often a blend of styles. Modern dance, or contemporary dance that derives from a particular codified form of modern, is less common among dance curriculums, but it can be an asset to students’ overall dance education. Let’s consider some key questions to ask as you consider how to expand your school’s offerings with modern dance.

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March-April 2016 | Bulletin Board: Pin, Post, Share

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Dance in Time: March/April
Quotable: Dancers on Dance

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February 2016 | Page Turners

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

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February 2016 | Reimagining Rosas danst Rosas

The project's format allows teachers to work with inexperienced or very young dancers, like these youngsters from Petite Productions Dance and Arts Academy. Photo by Carol Wakeley

When pop star Beyoncé, looking for moves for her Countdown video in 2011, swiped some steps from the work of Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, she ignited a process that resulted in a brilliant gift to the world dance community.

Many artists, violated in this way, might respond with legal action. But De Keersmaeker, director of the Brussels-based troupe Rosas and of the international contemporary dance and choreography school PARTS (Performing Arts Research and Training Studios), had another idea.

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