Will Your Site Be A Top Dance Blog of 2010?

Photo of female hands typing on a computer keyboard

Update! Winners of this year’s contest have been named. Check ’em out here.

Over the last year I’ve been contacted by a handful of websites who have created lists of 50 Best Ballet Blogs, Best Blogs for Dancers, etc. Usually… well, always, they come from outside the online dance community and are designed to get links back from the blogs they list. No offense to the list-makers – it’s nice to be included, but it got me thinking that it’s high time readers of dance blogs voted on their own list.

So, I’m grabbing the bull by the horns, as we say (especially here in Texas 😉 ) The number of dance-related blogs have certainly grown in 2010. No time like the present!

Here’s the plan:

  • If you have a blog and roughly more than 60% of your posts revolve around DANCE (any form or genre), you are eligible to participate.
  • Each blogger or blog owner will enter their own blog into the competition by publishing a blog post that links back to this one.
  • In your post, you will ask readers to show support of your blog with a comment on YOUR post. You will have until December 22 to round up as much comment support as you can.
  • Only blog posts with the most comments will qualify for the voting round.
  • Voting will take place between December 27 and 30.
  • The votes will be tallied and the results posted during the first week of the new year.

What to do first:

Decide which of the following categories is the best fit for your blog:

  • Dance News/Criticism
  • Artistic Process/Investigation
  • Dance Company/School
  • Dance Education/Training
  • Dancer Musings
  • Dance Student/Beginner

I know that these do not perfectly cover every unique voice in the dance blogosphere. In reality you may be in a category of your own but for this competition, you must choose the ONE category listed that suits you best. You may feel that you fit into multiple categories. You must choose only ONE.

The TEN most supported blogs (according to comments) will qualify for the voting round of each of the above categories.

All blogs entered will be eligible to compete for the Top Dance Blog of 2010 title. Comment support will be compared in all participating blogs and the 20 with the most support will qualify for the voting round. Readers’ votes will decide the winner and ranking.

How to enter your blog

Top Dance Blogs of 20101. Write a post on your blog about the Reader’s Choice Top Dance Blogs of 2010 competition.

DO link back to this post. Here’s the URL: http://danceadvantage.net/2010/12/08/top-dance-blog/

DO add the cute little button over there (right click, save as)

DO encourage your readers to rally their support by commenting on YOUR post about the competition.

DON’T be sneaky about comments. If it is discovered you are padding your comment count by encouraging your readers to make multiple comments, accepting or creating bogus comments, or offering incentives to commenters, you will be disqualified.

DON’T throw your support to any other blog and suggest that readers vote for them as well OR suggest that readers withhold votes for another blog OR even mention another competing blog (positively or negatively) in your post. This one is all about you, baby, or you’ll be disqualified.

2. Come back here and place in the comments below a link to your post about the competition AND the category under which you’d like to be considered.
3. Start promoting your post and drumming up your comment support.

Answers to questions you haven’t asked

Is Dance Advantage throwing its hat in the ring?

No,  I’m just the ringmaster for this circus. If Dance Advantage is your favorite dance blog, help out by sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter, in forums or statuses and encouraging worthy dance blogs to participate. You’ll also have a chance to show your love to DA later on.

Why should I enter my blog?

I’m delivering an opportunity for you to engage your readers and find out why they love you. This is valuable no matter your readership or chances. Even if you don’t qualify for the top ten or twenty, you’ll enter 2011 with encouragement to keep blogging!

What do I get for being a Top Dance Blog?

Read the above question… you’ll get that. Plus, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you were chosen by actual dance readers as a Top Dance Blog, and you’ll have the opportunity to display and leverage your ranking. Winners will also be announced and linked to from this site. Beyond this, 2010 is a trial year. Help me grow this community event and new developments like prizes for winners may be possible in the future.

What does Dance Advantage get out of it?

Like the list-makers I mentioned at the start, I get linked to by participants, reach new types of readers, and thereby grow my audience.

I get to be a connector. I connect readers with new blogs that suit their interests. Readers like that, so it is a win for me.

I get to give back and step up. New dance blogs pop up every day but enter a more crowded blogosphere than the one I stepped into nearly three years ago. In this environment, it is easier to miss the interdependent nature of blogging but blogs depend on each other to grow and survive. This contest is a chance to build a stronger sense of community. Yes, this is a competition. But a successful, positive, and friendly competition indicates that dance occupies a significant, healthy, and thriving corner of the blogosphere,

What didn’t I answer? Feel free to comment below or contact me with your question.

Giving Thanks Giveaway 2010: Dances To Go

This giveaway is now closed.

Welcome to the Giving Thanks Giveaway 2010!

Dances To Go logo - Our Perfection is your PerformanceWe’re going to kick things off with DancesToGo.com

DancesToGo.com creates fun and ready to teach downloadable dance routines for dance studio and elementary school teachers and their students.

Knowing first-hand how busy dance studio owners and dance teachers are with classes and competitions, two women from Southwestern Ontario, Canada, Frances Hellens McDonald and Lisa Bondy, created this unique resource to provide ready-made non-syllabus practice and performance routines.

They offer a collection of dances by award winning choreographers and talented performers whose artistic backgrounds include dance, music, drama, and television. Incorporating creative movement and props, their preschool routines are perfect for energetic little ones. Meanwhile, DanceToGo’s classical selections will inspire the young dancer. These selections are sure to put a smile on each and every dancer (and their parents!).

All routines are available instantly and for each one DancesToGo supplies an iTunes link to suggested music, which can be purchased separately. Also available for many of their preschool routines is a video download of the dance, performed by an instructor.

DancesToGo choreographer Tia Colborne teaches class at her studioTeachers can download easy-to-read notes with footwork and arm movements, music, and/or video right to their iPod, iPhone, iTouch, or iPad, then head straight to the studio.

DancesToGo wants to give away ONE $25 dollar gift-certificate to THREE different Dance Advantage readers.

With prices ranging from $1.99 to 3.99 per download, this will buy a number of routines for use in your classes.

To win a gift certificate, here’s how to enter:

Leave a comment at this post, answering the following question: For which of your age groups or classes would ready-made choreography really come in handy?

This giveaway is open worldwide and lasts until Saturday, November 13. Three winners will be drawn on Sunday.

I hope you are one of them! Check back later today for another giveaway.

Dancers Can Take a Cue from Fall Runways

When half of your wardrobe is made up of leotards and you wear tights more often than you wear jeans, your passion for fashion is best invested in dancewear. Whether you are a dance student or dance teacher, you can have fun with your class attire and incorporate your own style with what’s in this season. Here are some of the biggest trends from Fall 2010 New York Fashion Week and how you can take them from the runway to the studio.

From Catherine Malandrino to Diana Von Furstenberg, the layered fashion trend was popping up everywhere during New York Fashion Week. When done right, layers can create a unique look that is both eye-catching and intriguing. Lucky for dancers everywhere, the cooler temperatures of fall usually allow for more clothes in the classroom. With the chill in the air, it may take a little longer to warm up during the barre routine. And when cold muscles mean tight muscles that can easily lead to injury, adding layers to your look isn’t just trendy, it’s efficient. With warm-ups like body wraps, sweater wraps, shrugs, legwarmers, arm warmers, and knit tights, dancers have plenty of ways to layer up this season.


Bright, bold colors were all over the fall runway. Jewel tone colors like sapphire, emerald green, garnet, and amethyst are just a few of the recurring hues seen in collections. The best way to incorporate these trendy colors into your dancewear is through the most dominant piece of a dancer’s attire, the leotard. This torso hugging one piece can come in a variety of colors, patterns, and styles, but if you want you want to make the best of the jewel tone trend, you should choose a solid colored leotard. Not just in basic black and pink anymore, popular dance clothing brands like Natalie and Capezio carry leotards in a variety of unique colors these days.


In recent years tights have been making a comeback in casual wear, but dancers have been rockin’ this look for decades. If you are in class so much that you have come to consider tights your second skin, you can rejoice as your clothing drawers are already full of this basic item.

But while in the past traditional black tights have served their purpose underneath fall clothes, this season tights are lightening up, a lot.

Designers like Max Azria and Anna Sui have all sent their models down the runway in white tights paired with dresses, skirts, and shorts. The trend gives women a feminine, youthful look while still allowing them to show a bit of leg in the colder months.

Dancers will appreciate that they can take advantage of this look while still staying in dress code, so whether tights are stark white, cream, or off-white, all sorts of shades are acceptable after Labor Day this fall.

Sheer Material

Sheer was definitely in at Vera Wang’s show during Fashion Week, with skirts, dresses, and sleeves all showing hints of this translucent fabric. The trend is to layer and drape sheer fabric over clothing like camisoles, shirts, or skirts to give outfits a soft, whimsical look.

With the exception of a leotard, the rest of a dancer’s attire needs to not cover up their body in order to ensure correct alignment and proper movement. Whether you have to wear a chiffon skirt for a ballet class or tutu for a performance, if you are a ballerina you are no stranger to sheer fabric.

Dancers of other genres can incorporate this trend with sheer overdresses, shirts, or wraps, which keep them warm and covered while still allowing for movement to be easily seen.

What are some of your favorite fashion trends for this season?

How will you incorporate these into your look in the studio?

This guest post is contributed by Alvina Lopez.

Bessie’s Back

…and Boy is She Bouncin’

I don’t normally cover a lot of dance news on Dance Advantage but it’s important to me to recognize important events within the dance community when I can. Many young dancers may not realize that since the 1980s New York has celebrated dance with its own awards ceremony. Wouldn’t it be nice if someday The Bessies were as widely recognized as The Oscars or The Tonys? The Bessies are not televised, so thankfully choreographer Mark Panzarino was there and kind enough to paint a picture with his recap of the event. ~ Nichelle, Editor

What makes a great awards ceremony?


A beautiful location. An hysterical host. An enthusiastic, well-dressed audience full of celebrities. Laughs in all the right places; tender moments in the right places. Not being too self-congratulatory. And, of course, the winners!  The New York Dance and Performance Awards -loving nicknamed “The Bessies,” after Bessie Schonberg, modern dance teacher and pioneer- returned Monday night in full force after a year’s hiatus with a dynamic ceremony October 18 at Symphony Space on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Those in attendance were lucky to be there for the return of this much-needed event.

The Bessies logo - New York Dance and Performance Awards Produced by Lucy Sexton (leading fundraising efforts) and DanceNYC (with newly appointed Director Lane Harwell at the helm), and in conjunction with Danspace Project, Dance Theater Workshop, and The Joyce Theater, Bessies Awards were given for two seasons (2008-2009 and 2009-2010) and in two categories, honoring “Full Productions” and “Performers Honored for Work”.  Each award was detailed with an eloquent citation describing the recipient’s contribution to the field.

How wonderful to see such a broad spectrum of participants in the house and onstage!  Dancers, choreographers, designers, funders, media reps and politicos alike came to celebrate the best of the New York dance scene.  Famed fashion legend Isaac Mizrahi was quite the charmer, his quick wit moving celebrations along at a fun, steady pace. He looks younger than ever. (I need a new tuxedo.)  Presenters included Dance Theatre of Harlem‘s Artistic Director Virginia Johnson, Ballet Hispanico Founder Tina Ramirez, S.L.A.M founder Elizabeth Streb, the ever-present, multi-talented Ishmael Houston-Jones, and Tony-Award winning lighting designer Jennifer TiptonBilly Elliot director, Academy Award nominee, and Tony winner Stephen Daldry was in attendance.

While there were no live performances this year, too-brief videos of Bessie recipients made me hungry to see more of works I had missed during their run, particularly Michelle Boulé’s performance in Last Meadow (which also received a Bessie), Keith Hennessey‘s production of Crotch (all the Joseph Beuys references in the world cannot heal the pain, confusion, regret, cruelty, betrayal or trauma . . .) (both shown at Dance Theater Workshop), and Okwui Okpokwasili‘s Pent-Up: A Revenge Dance at P.S. 122.  Mr. Mizrahi joked, “The three greatest ballets ever: ‘La Sylphide’, ‘Giselle’, and ‘Crotch‘!” Very touching was Ms. Okpokwasili recognition of her mother, who had traveled from Nigeria to be in attendance.

Photo of Carmen deLavallade with Mark Panzarino at the 2010 bessies

Guest author, Mark Panzarino with legend Carmen deLavallade at the 2010 Bessies; photo by Richard Bernard

Other notable award recipients included Kyle Abraham‘s The Radio Show (no surprise there), Anne Collod, Anna Halprin, and Morton Subotnick for parades & changes, replays, Miki Orihara (of Martha Graham), and David Leventhal, who was rewarded for “projecting a keen intelligence with a twinkle in his eye while bringing to exhilarating life more than 40 of Mark Morris’ works.” Mr. Leventhal was presented his award by a very dashing Jock Soto, alongside fellow winner Heather Olson.

Undoubtedly, the most exciting moment of the evening was Ms. Sexton and Mr. Mizrahi recognizing the ensemble members of Paradigm with a Bessie for “(bringing) into vibrant focus the essence of what it means to dance.”  Honored were Artistic Director Gus Solomons Jr. (who called for the tripling of the size of the Bessie committee, to be able to include more works in the selection process!), Carmen deLavallade, Dudley Williams, Valda Setterfield, Michael Blake, Hope Clark, and Keith Sabado.

And then, as is with all great award ceremonies, the house lights are up and the young choreographers and performers are hugging their parents in the aisles and taking pictures with slightly smudged mascara, fumbling with framed certificates they will treasure the rest of their lives.  The more experienced performers exit the stage door.

Outside, in brisk, cool October wind, a British dancer hustles with a taxi driver to let him keep his cigarette in the cab, his ensemble on their way to the after-party at Colombus72, which, apparently, went for hours. “We won!” he says, “We should be allow to smoke!  We’re already smokin’!”

Dance Performance Awards The Bessies: Highlights from 2010 Awards Ceremony

Watch this video on YouTube.

The Radio Show Promotional Video from Kyle Abraham/Abraham.in.motion on Vimeo.

Cave of the Heart/Medea solo

Watch this video on YouTube.

Mark Panzarino headshotMark Panzarino was hand-selected at the age of 6 to study with Nina Youshkevich, the protégé of Bronislava Nijinska. His education continued at the School of American Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet School, and the David Howard Dance Center before joining Miami City Ballet as an apprentice in 1990. He has performed, choreographed, and taught for Broadway Dance Center, Dance Theatre of Harlem School, American Ballet Russe, Metropolitan Repertory Ballet, Renaissance Dance Ensemble, Eugene Lang College at the New School, Tampa Bay City Ballet, InMotion Dance Company, and the Choreographic Lab at Steps on Broadway. Mark’s first full-scale commission, Adam and Eve and God: a dance for two was presented by Texas Dance Theatre in April 2010 to stellar reviews. Additional projects include a sculptural work of mixed media (Touchdown) featured prominently in the lobby of the Times Square Hotel, a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A book of short poems was published in 2002. He is completing his first novel. Mark lives in Manhattan with a very spoiled 13-year-old Dalmatian named Zoey.

See his choreography on vimeo or connect with him on Facebook

Summing Up The Summit

Three days goes by really fast.

Picture of a tornado and lightning strikeSpend three days at a conference for dance teachers (like I did in early August at the Dance Teacher Summit in NYC) and you just might feel as though a tornado spat you out on the doorstep upon your return home. In fact, I can sympathize with poor Dorothy. Having been whisked off to a colorful place filled with compelling characters, I woke up a little woozy, too… and you were there, and you were there, and you… And also like Dorothy, I found myself back at home with very little physical evidence that I had actually been there! I am afraid I am as neglectful at photography as Miss Gale is at landing houses. C’est la vie!

So, instead of actual snapshots I’m sharing some of the thoughts and impressions I picked up along the yellow brick road (I promise that’s the last Wizard of Oz reference). I hope you’ll use, think about, or act upon these little nuggets from the Dance Teacher Summit. I had a great time collecting them for you.

Please note that unless quotations are used, I am paraphrasing as nearly as I can the awesome info shared by these esteemed guest artists.

Dance Teacher Summit -- NYCBreak the mold

When competing students, consider the body of work which you are presenting. Prepare the students well and diversify. Not everyone will fit that “contemporary, acoustic” mold. You have students in the back row on those numbers waiting to soar with their strengths in other realms. Mandy Moore had a ton of great things like this to say in her open conversation with attendees about competition mistakes.

Preparing for partnering

When you are getting ready for partnering (or helping to prepare students for partnering) both the guys and girls need to have a strong core. Pilates is great for that. In addition, according to Keith Roberts (Come Fly With Me, ABT, Twyla Tharp Dance), what guys need more than a ton of push-ups, is to build leg strength. Girls need to get strong too and a great exercise for women, according to Laurie Kanyok (Come Fly With Me, Movin Out, Fosse): practice smoothly lifting yourself up and out of a swimming pool with your arms. Summer’s not yet over so give that one a try!

Close-up of a spinning toy topTop secret

There is a recipe for good pirouettes and an essential ingredient is an effective downward plié and push into the floor. Think of an old-fashioned top and where its power to spin comes from. The button spirals down into the mechanism, and when it rises it spins beautifully with ease on that little point. Thanks to Finis Jhung for that theft-worthy image!

Teacher rewards

The love and fire and soul you give away today as a teacher will return to you. Your students will give back to you and lift you up and heal your spirit, perhaps when you need it most. Frank Hatchett is an inspirational example and after a fun, classic, jazz class, his beautiful message sent us out the door.

Let it flow

Kathy Blake offered many quotable thoughts in her session on Studio Ethics. You don’t have to own a studio to be inspired by this: Being a positive problem solver, one with high levels of integrity and maturity, is not inherent or natural to most people. It is a choice you make every day to “be bigger than the problem you are solving.” As a leader you must help people adhere to your policies and procedures because what you put up with, you give permission to. Know that it is okay and the natural course of things to let people (including students) flow into your life, but also out of your life and studio.

Beverly Spell leading teachers in a circle with ribbon rings at DTS 2010Purposeful props

Just about anything is a prop when you are working with little ones and you should keep that in mind when you visit dollar stores and shops. In addition to sparking imaginations, they are great for helping young dancers work together and learn to do basic partner work and formations. Have children share and pass a prop to learn how to take turns and promenade (walk) around a partner. Or, use floor mats or other markers to aim and stop at a point in the space when crossing the floor. I loved the Ribbon Rings used by Beverly Spell in her Props & Across The Floor Session. Purchase these and other great materials at Leap ‘N Learn. And check out Maria Hanley’s homemade ribbon rings (with directions) at Maria’s Movers.

Counting and rhythm

To help your students develop understanding of rhythm and timing, address their developmental needs. When working with 3 to 5 year-olds, use pictures. Relate the step or movement to something that they can visually picture in their mind. Kids this age can’t associate number counts to beats of the music, associate numbers with the amount of times you do a step instead.  For ages 5 to 7, use pictures in conjunction with sounds relative to their movement (like zip, boom, tat).  Kids can come up with fun sounds too.  Start to associate numbers with the beat of the music and introduce some musical theory. For ages 8 and up, along with pictures and sounds, use counts.  By now students should be able to associate number counts with an 8-count of music and they are capable of learning where to start count 1 in a phrase of music. Tricia Gomez of HYPE Studios and Dance – In a Box, packed a ton of great teaching tips into her Hip-Hop for All Ages seminar.

Give studio parents some face time

Your studio Facebook page (that’s the one with the big ‘Like’ button) provides a great platform for your school to become “the thread woven throughout your community.” Use it to share links and news from the broader arts and dance world and to connect with businesses, organizations, and events in your local community. Better still, says Suzanne Blake Gerety in her session on Social Media, spread goodwill (and probably get a little returned to you) by making it a point to connect with the local businesses and pages for dance parents at your studio.

Return to one’s roots

Dance is for everyone. We are deeply connected to movement as a means of expressing the human experience. Reconnecting to that basic need to dance is just joyous. It isn’t necessarily a lesson I had forgotten but I know few teachers who communicate our shared history in dance as well or as enthusiastically as Thom Cobb. It’s been years since I took his “Vintage Jazz” at Slippery Rock University as a student and dance major, and I was glad to be reminded how much I like “killin’ time” with TC. Waaw!

Avoid the scribble and scramble

Carry business cards. Okay, that one is just my own advice for any teacher that finds themselves at a conference or out in public for that matter. Hey, it doesn’t happen often; take advantage when it does! 😉 It was so fun seeing excited teachers meet and share resources and advice with someone new at the Summit. Inevitably I watched many do the scribble and scramble as they tried to quickly exchange information before the next session, while others easily exchanged cards.

Be generous with who you are

Photo of Nichelle and Twitter pals at the Dance Teacher SummitAt the Dance Teacher Summit I had the great fortune to meet a few of you, along with a number of brand new names and faces. In addition, I met in person some friends I first encountered via Twitter and only previously interacted with online.

With many of these friends I have shared tweets, emails, and phone calls over the last year or more. Among the group are Suzanne Blake Gerety of DanceStudioOwner.com, Maria Hanley of Maria’s Movers (see Maria’s Summit wrap-up here), Leslea Clark of Uptown Dance (see Leslea’s Summit reflections here), Chad Michael Lawson of Real Deal Dance Marketing, José Ramirez of Backdrops Beautiful (see Jose’s post on our little Tweetup here), and Marc Kirschner of TenduTV.

Following the summit Suzanne wrote something about her experience that I’d like to share with you.

“When you’re being generous with who you are, what you stand for, what you’re passionate about, and truly being social…the ripple effect of a tweet can’t be measured.”

Whether it is online or at a conference like the Dance Teacher Summit, I’ve found it immeasurably important for teachers, dancers, and artists to find opportunities to encounter new ideas and validate ‘old’ ones by spending time with others in their field. The Dance Teacher Summit was a success because so many wonderful professionals, both well-known and not, shared their generosity and passion for dance with peers and colleagues. I encourage you to be generous with who you are as often as you can manage it. It is really the only way to make great connections online and off.

I hope to see you next year at Dance Teacher Summit 2011!

Unite … Share … Inspire

2010 Dance Teacher Summit Gala Clips

Watch this video on YouTube.

Some clips from the DTS 2010 Gala, courtesy Leslea of Uptown Dance NJ

Special thanks to all the Dance Teacher Summit organizers and staff for a great time!