Sheryl Murakami is living the dream of countless young competition dancers across the country. Ever since the day Beyoncé’s creative team selected Murakami’s demo tape from what must have been a sea of submissions, she has been working with some of the biggest stars in the music video world.
But she didn’t come out of nowhere to nab this celebrity gig. In our cover feature, “Just Dance,” writer Jen Jones Donatelli tells how the former comp kid worked her signature sultry moves at the front of Broadway Dance Center classes and performing in rock clubs all over New York before she got her first big break. Her success is as much about courage and persistence as it is about talent.
Every time young dancers get on the competition stage, they’re learning about courage and persistence. They’re building their future—even if it doesn’t include dance.
If you are among those who question whether competition is a good idea, you might be interested in a new book by Harvard scholar Hilary Levey Friedman (see Recommended). Friedman studied teens who compete in dance, soccer and chess and concluded that competition expands the horizons of young people. Those who participate in a win-or-lose culture tend to set their life goals higher than others.
Though it may seem as if Nationals just ended, it’s time to begin preparing for the new season, and this, our annual Competition Issue, has plenty of advice and information to offer, including the “2013 Guide to Competitions,” for your easy reference in the months ahead.
Of course, you don’t have to lead a competition team to understand that dance is a competitive field. Every month Dance Teacher shares inspiration and advice to keep you at the top of your game. This month, for instance, studio owners can sharpen their pencils over a cash-flow statement (“Profits Are Up, So Why Can’t I Pay the Bills?”). In Technique, Banu Ogan demonstrates a classic Cunningham step that can inform any style you teach. And History: Lesson Plan is about how Vaganova—never a stellar performer herself—codified a style that became a fundamental ballet training all over the world.
Speaking of inspiration, we’re still on an adrenaline high after the Dance Teacher Summit in August. We had a great time mingling with all those who joined us in NYC to bring the pages of the magazine to life. Mark your calendar for next year, August 1–3, 2014. Until then, Dance Teacher can help you stay connected. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and at dance-teacher.com.
Photo by Matthew Murphy