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Last-Minute Gift-Giving Inspiration for Dancers of All Ages

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Whether you're still wrapping up holiday shopping for the dance lovers in your life or have that family member who keeps asking what you want this year, a unique, dancey gift is always a winner. Dance Teacher rounded up eight ideas for dancers of all ages—many of which serve the dual purpose of supporting the dance community during this difficult time. (Bonus: Many are just a few clicks away!)


For the holiday-show goer: access to a virtual performance

For Nutcracker devotees who are missing their in-person pilgrimage this year, give the gift of watching a holiday production from home. One fun non-Nutcracker option: ODC/Dance's long-standing Velveteen Rabbit, a festive, clever take on the classic children's book. Buy a ticket and your giftee will be able to screen it on demand, and consider opting for fun add-ons, including an activity book and virtual dance lessons to learn some of the choreography.

If you choose to stick to the classic Nutcracker, many companies (like Atlanta Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet and San Francisco Ballet) are offering ticketed streaming of their productions too.

For dancers ages 3 to 13: a Zoom dance party

If your dance student is missing friends, classmates and cousins during this strange holiday season, treat them to a Zoom dance party. Hire a local teacher to lead a special session for your group.

For the young ballet student: new picture books

2020 was a banner year for new picture books on dance, including Misty Copeland's latest Bunheads and American Ballet Theatre's Boys Dance, by John Robert Altman.

For teens serious about their training: a private coaching session

A private lesson or coaching session can provide valuable feedback for serious students who may feel isolated or uninspired this winter. Many teaching artists are happy to take on extra work right now—it's possible you'll even be able to book your dancer's favorite master teacher.

For the college dance major: a winter intensive

Winter intensives are always a savvy way for college dancers to spend their breaks, but this year they may be more beneficial than ever, since many fall semesters were cut short. American Dance Festival's winter program is a solid option, running virtually January 4 to 8, with teaching artists Leah Cox, Marguerite Hemmings, Jessie Young and Jesse Zaritt. Or for a more specialized option, the Martha Graham School and the Paul Taylor American Modern Dance are both holding virtual winter intensives as well.

For choreographers and teachers: music made for dance

Dance artists are always seeking out new, dance-friendly music, whether for choreographic projects or upcoming classes. Give the choreographer or teacher in your life the gift of music written specifically for dance, like that of Michael Wall, who offers dance artists three levels of membership. Level 1 membership at $5 a month gets your giftee one free track download per month, plus 50 percent off all music on Wall's site, access to new music and special resources on music and dance.

For the recent college graduate: Dance/USA membership

Dance/USA is the national service organization supporting the field with job postings, research and an annual conference. Right now, membership is only $25 to gain access right away—which will be useful for recent grads entering a particularly precarious dance workforce.

For dance lovers of all ages: apparel from their favorite company

Dancers love to sport merch that shows their love for their favorite dance organizations. Odds are, the company, school, festival or cause close to their hearts sells some fashionable tees, tanks and sweats. Check out Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Brown Girls Do Ballet, LINES Ballet and many others.

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Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy. Photo courtesy Dance With Me

Listening to Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy riff together makes it crystal-clear why each has mastered the art of partnering in the ballroom—they've long been doing this dance in real life as brothers and business partners.

Along with their "Dancing with the Stars" pedigree (and a combined three mirror-ball trophies between them), Maks and Val (and their father, Sasha) also run Dance With Me, a dance company hosting six ProAm Dancesport competitions annually and running 14 brick-and-mortar studio locations across the U.S.

Last year, the pair launched an online component, Dance & Co. The online video platform offers beginner through advanced instruction in not only ballroom but an array of other styles, as well as dance fitness classes from HIIT to yoga to strength training. "DWTS" fans will recognize such familiar faces as Peta Murgatroyd, Jenna Johnson, Sharna Burgess and Emma Slater, along with Maks and Val themselves.

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@jayplayimagery, courtesy Kerollis

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Courtesy Oleson

American dance educator Shannon Oleson was teaching recreational ballet and street-dance classes in London when the pandemic hit. As she watched many of her fellow U.S. friends pack up and return home from their international adventures, she made the difficult choice to stick with her students (as well as her own training—she was midway through her MFA at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance).

Despite shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders, she was able to maintain a teaching schedule that kept her working with her dancers through Zoom, as well as lead some private, in-home acro classes following government guidelines. But keeping rec students interested in the face of pandemic fatigue hasn't been easy.

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