Bringing Ballet to the Virtual World

You know you’re living in the future when dancers in Amsterdam can appear live onstage in a performance happening thousands of miles away in Toronto. Stream was presented as part of the Assemblée Internationale, a weeklong conference hosted by Canada's National Ballet School. Dancers at the AI performed and interacted with a screen projection of students at the Dutch National Ballet Academy. Participants in Holland constructed the same setup, streaming a video of the AI students in real time. “It broadens their horizons,” choreographer Shaun Amyot told CBC News. “It requires them to be in the moment, really present, and intensifies their concentration, because I will ask them to physically react to what they see on the screen in the moment.” How’s that for keeping ballet current?

Virtual dance pen pals at a sister studio could be an inspiring and collaborative project for your students. Click here for tips on integrating video chat into your classroom.

Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

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Teaching Tips
Justin Boccitto teaches a hybrid class. Photo courtesy Boccitto

Just as teachers were getting comfortable with teaching virtual classes, many studios are adding an extra challenge into the mix: in-person students learning alongside virtual students. Such hybrid classes are meant to keep class sizes down and to give students options to take class however they're comfortable.

But dividing your attention between virtual students and masked and socially distant in-person students—and giving them each a class that meets their needs—is no easy feat.

Dance Teacher asked four teachers what they've learned so far.

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Teachers Trending
All photos by Ryan Heffington

"Annnnnnnd—we're back!"

Ryan Heffington is kneeling in front of his iPhone, looking directly into the camera, smiling behind his bushy mustache. He's in his house in the desert near Joshua Tree, California, phone propped on the floor so it stays steady, his bright shorty shorts, tank top and multiple necklaces in full view. Music is already playing—imagine you're at a club—and soon he's swaying and bouncing from side to side, the beat infusing his bones.

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