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A Letter to Dance Teachers Everywhere: Please Take Care of Yourselves This Dance Year

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Dear Dance Teachers,

We adore you. You help make dancers' dreams come true. You give them the tools to become phenomenal performers and capable human beings. You. Are. Wonderful.

It's because of our undying love and devotion that we feel the need to write to you today. As we approach another exciting year of dance classes, we want to remind you to take care of yourselves.


Remember....

1. It's OK to say no to extra rehearsals that encroach on time set aside for your family, religion, physical health, mental health or self-care obligations.

2. It's OK to stand up to parents who don't respect you.

3. It's OK to take a sick day when you need it.

4. It's OK to see a therapist.

5. It's OK to say no to props (they're fab, but also, they might be your emotional demise, so be careful!).

6. It's OK to delegate.

7. It's OK to be honest and vulnerable with your students.

8. It's OK (and we can't emphasize this enough) to eat some chocolate when you need it.

In the end, you need to put the oxygen mask on yourselves before you can help anyone else. Prioritize yourself so you can be the very best teacher possibe this season.

We love you and are rooting for you!

All the best,

Your adoring fans

Higher Ed
Charles Anderson (center) in his (Re)current Unrest. Photo by Kegan Marling, courtesy of UT Austin

Given the long history of American choreographers who have threaded activism into their work—Katherine Dunham, Pearl Primus, Donald McKayle, Joanna Haigood, Bill T. Jones, Jo Kreiter, to name a few—it's perhaps surprising that collegiate dance has offered so little in the way of training future generations to do the same.

Until now, that is. Within the last three years, two master's programs have cropped up, each the first of its kind: Ohio University's MA in community dance (new this fall), and the University of Texas at Austin's dance and social justice MFA, which emerged from its existing MFA program in 2018. These two programs join the University of San Francisco's undergraduate performing arts and social justice major, with a concentration in dance, which has been around since 2000.

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Teacher Voices
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As many dance teachers begin another semester of virtual teaching, it is time to acknowledge the fact that virtual classes aren't actually accessible to all students.

When schools and studios launched their virtual dance programs at the beginning of the pandemic, many operated under the assumption that all their students would be able to take class online. But in reality, lack of access to technology and Wi-Fi is a major issue for many low-income students across the country, in many cases cutting them off from the classes and resources their peers can enjoy from home.

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Dance Teacher Awards

Who knew that a virtual awards ceremony could bring our community together in such a powerful way?

Last night, we celebrated the annual Dance Teacher Awards, held virtually for the first time. Though it was different from what we're used to, this new setting inspired us to get creative in celebrating our six extraordinary honorees. In fact, one of the most enlivening parts of the event was one that could only happen in a Zoom room: Watching as countless tributes, stories and congratulations poured in on the chat throughout the event. Seeing firsthand the impact our awardees have had on so many lives reminded us why we chose to honor them.

If you missed the Awards (or just want to relive them), you're in luck—they are now available to watch on-demand. We rounded up some of the highlights:

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