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 Perspective
4. Body, 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 | 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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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 | Performance Corner

Photos, clockwise from lower left, by Charles Evans, J. Woodfort, Richard Renda

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

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May-June 2016 | Bulletin Board

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Dance in Time: May/June Birthdays
Quotable: Dancers on Dance

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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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