Words from the publisher I recently traveled to Glendale, Arizona, to present weekend seminars at the Spisak Dance Academy. It was a different seminar experience than most I’ve had, because I got to work with everyone involved—the faculty, the students, and their parents. The kids and the teachers were easy for me, but the parents…Read More
“Studios as Safe Spaces” by Tamsin Nutter: No teacher can fix the world for her kids. Still, we adults owe it to children to be our best selves for them, and with them. We owe them love and safety. We owe them our protection.
“Inherent Value” by Karen White: How many of your studio’s alumni studied dance in college or went on to professional dance careers?Read More
by Joseph Carman
When flamenco artist Carlota Santana demonstrates her snaking arms, articulate fingers, fiery footwork, stalking strides, and laser-like gaze for observers at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, she evokes the ancient echoes of Gypsies in Andalusia. The pride and passion of her flamenco moves ignite the soul. Santana has produced numerous flamenco symposiums at Duke University, but they represent only a fraction of her efforts to share the technique and cultural aspects of this art form through performance and instruction.Read More
Let’s imagine that one town has two very good schools, and let’s say that they are roughly equal in size and that each offers a quality dance education. What could make one school stand out above the other?Read More
Located only 45 minutes from New York City, Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts provides a personal approach to dance education with extensive performance opportunities and access to a wide range of guest artists. The Dance Department offers an intensive, conservatory-style BFA degree that trains students to be well-rounded performers and choreographers. The BFA curriculum includes a strong theoretical base in a variety of dance studies and required liberal arts courses.Read More
Preschool dance education—it’s a frequent topic among studio owners and dance teachers. In fact, in my conversations with attendees at the DanceLife Teacher Conference and the International Dance Entrepreneurs Association conference, preschool dance seemed to come up more than any other topic.Read More
Children depend on us to protect them from being exploited or sexualized. In a society that appears to accept and promote the sexualization of women and girls, it’s hard to stand strong and insist—as I’ve done for decades—that dance teachers must be advocates for their students. But I believe every dance teacher must stand firm against movement, music, and choreography that inappropriately sexualize young girls.Read More
After months of attending conferences and giving speeches across the United States and Canada, I’ve discovered that there is always more to appreciate about our dance education community.
We are witnessing a time in dance history when many school owners have become smart small business owners who offer quality dance education to every child—and they are being rewarded with financial success. For dance teachers, there have never been more opportunities to teach, not only at these schools but also in a new field that has evolved, in which master teachers travel throughout North America to teach and choreograph at small-town studios. And everywhere they go, they inspire young people to pursue their dance dreams.Read More
The University of Michigan (U-M) offers a world-class dance education within a leading public research university. First offered in 1909 as a course in aesthetic dancing, dance is a vibrant and celebrated part of the U-M School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. The current faculty includes active performers, choreographers, scholars, screendance artists, and former members of such companies as Urban Bush Women, Martha Graham Dance Company, and Laura Dean Dancers and Musicians. Alumni have distinguished themselves as performers, choreographers, scholars, and leaders in higher education.Read More
“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.Read More
Over the past quarter century, some of ballet’s most distinguished teachers have shaped the students of San Francisco Ballet School, among them Irina Jacobson, Lola de Avila, Jorge Esquivel, Antonio Castilla, Gloria Govrin, Jean-Yves Esquerre, and Edward Ellison. Recently, two other teachers joined that list: Pollyana Ribeiro, who became part of the full-time teaching staff in 2014; and Yannick Boquin, who chooses to guest teach exclusively. In February 2015, I watched both of them teach class, with a goal of discovering what they might add to the educational structure Patrick Armand, associate director of SF Ballet School (under the direction of artistic director Helgi Tomasson) is putting in place.Read More
Two years ago, Alabama State University (ASU) launched a new artistic endeavor: the Department of Theatre Arts’ BFA/Dance program.
Located in Montgomery, the state capital, ASU is one of only two Alabama institutions of higher learning to offer a BFA in dance. Helmed by dancer, educator, and choreographer Michael Medcalf, the program welcomed its first class in 2013. Only a handful of freshmen enrolled, but the numbers have increased steadily—32 majors and minors were enrolled in fall 2014, 47 this academic year, and 62 are projected for next fall—making it one of ASU’s fastest growing programs. Both majors and minors must audition.Read More
The Duke University Dance Program aims to provide excellent opportunities for interdisciplinary dance studies within a first-class liberal arts education. Its mission is to ensure that students don’t have to give up dance in order to pursue a rigorous academic education; most students in the program choose interdepartmental or double majors.Read More
We all have opinions. And sometimes, when they’re on topics that have the potential to affect large groups of people, our perspective can be controversial. When I know that’s the case, I try to convey mine in a non-judgmental way, hoping to stir up thoughtful debate rather than offend people who disagree with me. Recently I stood strong on an issue, and I made some enemies.Read More
When an upscale dance academy offers an outreach program, there’s no need to ask why: dance education offers so much for children—as an afterschool activity for those who dream of dance careers or simply love to move, with life lessons on how to achieve goals, and for ex-professional dancers, a post-performing teaching career. However, many outreach programs, without necessarily meaning to, can amount to an afterthought, an attempt to mask an atmosphere of privilege. For some schools, they are simply a tax write-off. Not at National Dance Institute of New Mexico (NDI New Mexico).Read More
Last year, for our 10th anniversary, we established a new annual tradition: the Dance Studio Life “Generous Heart” Awards. The people and organizations selected by publisher Rhee Gold and the editorial staff do important, innovative work in dance education and provide much-needed services to the dance community.
The criteria that define these Generous Hearts are simple: they are risk takers, community-minded, and devoted to a cause, a practice, a belief. They use dance in a way that contributes to the greater good. They are sources of inspiration to the dance world, and to the staff here at Dance Studio Life, and they prove that dance, when used to its full potential, can be a vital and transformative force.
We are delighted to honor this year’s recipients of the annual Dance Studio Life “Generous Heart” Awards, and we thank them for the good work they do.Read More
I’ve been in the dance education field for a long time, and over the years I’ve noticed some changes, particularly in regard to student performances. Long before the current generation started dancing for awards, generations of young dancers performed for something quite simple: applause.Read More
Dance education goes well beyond teaching steps and technique. Students of all ages benefit—and gain appreciation for the art—when the history behind the traditions and choreography is shared during classes.Read More
Choosing a post-secondary institution can be a complex and emotional process. Some people say a conservatory is the best path to a performance career; others insist that a college education offers broader exposure and a better chance of earning a stable living. Teenage dancers may question the value of earning a dance degree at all.Read More
Dance studios are seldom born in the minds of venture capitalists. Most are the brainchildren of people who want to combine their love for dance with a way to make a living (and, one hopes, a love of teaching). While the shift from dance artist to studio owner may seem natural enough, the leap from the right-brain realm of dance and choreography to the left-brain world of budgets and balance sheets can involve a painful landing. Running a business successfully takes training. Often, the choice to invest in that training means the difference between a studio that thrives and one that merely survives.Read More