Teaching Tips

Ask the Experts: Do You Monitor Your Dancers' Social-Media Posts?

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Q: Do you monitor what your dancers post on social media?


A: The short answer is no, we do not. That being said, we do talk to our dancers about being responsible and respectful of others. If something online is brought to our attention that concerns us, we will address the situation with the dancers involved and take the proper steps to make sure it doesn't happen again.

I do know fellow studio owners who keep tabs on all their dancers' postings on social media and consequently address anything they consider to be an inappropriate representation of the dancers in their studio. Some even prohibit their competitive dancers to have private accounts.

I believe that young people and adults alike will often write a comment on social media that they would never say to someone's face, and it concerns me. I personally would be very happy to have the studio be a "social-media-free zone," where dancers would have no choice but to converse with each other. I think that their social skills would improve greatly. That being said, as a studio owner and teacher, I feel that it's a parent's responsibility to supervise their own child's social-media accounts.

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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Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

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Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

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