"Bright Lights Shining Stars" Gala

Last night's New York City Dance Alliance Foundation gala was uplifting, spirited and star studded, to say the least. Since the organization's inception two years ago, it has awarded more than $1 million in college scholarships to 100 plus dancers. It was fantastic to hear that these kids were being given the tools to take them through their next leg of training, like Utah dancer Mattie Love, who just started her freshman year at Marymount Manhattan College. Snaps to NYCDA and all its dancers and supporters!

It was equally as fantastic to witness why these kids deserve recogntion, as 19 of this year's scholarship recipients performed a number choreographed by NYCDA faculty Andy Pellick. They danced right before the pros: Complexions, Ballet Hispanico, ABT and Ballet Next. NYCB's Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild in Christopher Wheeldon's Mercurial Manoeuvers were my favorite of the evening—I still cannot fathom Peck's artistic abilities at her age. Oh, and did I mention that the two are NYCDA alums? Who knows, the next big dance talent could be one of those scholarship winners we saw take the stage.

The evening capped off with the oh so fabulous Liza Minnelli presenting the Ambassador for the Arts award to everyone's favorite danseur—Mikhail Baryshnikov. He was funny, witty, suave—pretty much everything you'd expect him to be. And he stole my heart without even having to pirouette his way in.

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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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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