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3 (Very) Different Ways to See Holiday Dance This Month

For most teachers, owners and students, the holiday season means listening to Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker suite on repeat, until heads explode. And while there's a definite thrill to hearing the opening notes of that overture, sometimes you need to get out of Nut-land and recharge your holiday spirit. Why not see a dance performance this December that'll shake things up for you? (Or just own your bottomless love for all things Nutcracker and see THAT.) Here are three ideas:



Photo by Steven Gunther


If you want a flash mob experience Then check out the CalArts dance department on Friday and Saturday, December 15 and 16, at 8 pm on the steps and sidewalk surrounding the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. They'll present a massive ensemble performance (all 70 dance majors are in it!), HHUMAAN—a 12-minute piece demonstrating how movement can bring urban, public spaces to life. It's all in honor of their upcoming winter dance concert, happening right after on both nights.

Photo courtesy of DIW

If you want an interdisciplinary cultural experience Through powerful dance, poetry and music, the Dance Institute of Washington'sThe Spirit of Kwanzaa illustrates experiences of the African diaspora and celebrates the traditions, struggles and creative innovations of diverse peoples of African heritage—from those of the continent of Africa to citizens of the Americas. See it December 15–17 at THEARC Theater in Washington, DC.

Photo courtesy of Frank Ohman School of Ballet

If you want a classical Nutcracker experience With two New York City Ballet principals (Daniel Ulbricht and Brittany Pollack) guest starring and more than 80 children, semi-professional and professional dancers performing, Frank Ohman and New York Dance Theatre's Nutcracker in Commack, New York, has become a beloved Long Island tradition. It's happening twice a day on December 16 and 17 at the John Cranford Adams Playhouse in Hempstead, New York.

Teacher Voices
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In 2001, young Chanel, a determined, ambitious, fiery, headstrong teenager, was about to begin her sophomore year at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, also known as the highly acclaimed "Fame" school. I was a great student, a promising young dancer and well-liked by my teachers and my peers. On paper, everything seemed in order. In reality, this picture-perfect image was fractured. There was a crack that I've attempted to hide, cover up and bury for nearly 20 years.

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Health & Body
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Though the #MeToo movement has spurred many dancers to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and abuse, the dance world has yet to have a full reckoning on the subject. Few institutions have made true cultural changes, and many alleged predators continue to work in the industry.

As Chanel DaSilva's story shows, young dancers are particularly vulnerable to abuse because of the power differential between teacher and student. We spoke with eight experts in dance, education and psychology about steps that dance schools could take to protect their students from sexual abuse.

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Technique
Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

Not so long ago, it seemed that ballet dancers were always encouraged to pull up away from the floor. Ideas evolved, and more recently it has become common to hear teachers saying "Push down to go up," and variations on that concept.

Charla Genn, a New York City–based coach and dance rehabilitation specialist who teaches company class for Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Hispánico, says that this causes its own problems.

"Often when we tell dancers to go down, they physically push down, or think they have to plié more," she says. These are misconceptions that keep dancers from, among other things, jumping to their full potential.

To help dancers learn to efficiently use what she calls "Mother Marley," Genn has developed these clever techniques and teaching tools.

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