Teaching Tips

Ask the Experts: How Do I Ignore Hurtful Social-Media Comments From Other Teachers?

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Q: Whether online or through word of mouth, I'm constantly hearing dance teachers tear down other teachers who think differently than they do. How do I keep my self-esteem high when our internet culture seems to promote this—and better yet, how do I teach my students to do the same?


A: I agree that there are a lot of naysayers in the dance world, but you should never let someone else's opinion affect how you see yourself. Don't empower negative people in your life.

Social media makes it easy for people to make hurtful statements about you that they would never say to your face. Sadly, I think our dancers (especially our teens) are affected by negative comments on social media as well. I feel as educators we must constantly reinforce our dancers so that they realize how smart and talented they really are. As educators we have the power to change the message.

Our studio T-shirts say "Integrity, Bravery, Love and Sweat Equity." These are the qualities that make a great dancer and person. Build yourself and your dancers up with positive quotes posted around your studio and constantly reinforce the idea that they are amazing dancers and people.

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Photo by Yvonne M. Portra, courtesy Faulkner

It's a Wednesday in May, and 14 Stanford University advanced modern ­dance students are logged on to Zoom, each practicing a socially distanced duet with an imaginary person. "Think about the quality of their personality and the type of duet you might have," says their instructor Katie Faulkner, "but also their surface area and how you'd relate to them in space." Amid dorm rooms, living rooms, dining rooms and backyards, the dancers make do with cramped quarters and dodge furniture as they twist, curve, stretch and intertwine with their imaginary partners.

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Music
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As you continue to explore a hybrid online/in-person version of your class schedule, it's crucial that your music licenses include coverage for livestreamed instruction—which comes with its own particular requirements. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about music licensing—in both normal times and COVID times—as well as some safe music bets that won't pose any issues.

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Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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