Contemporary Fun at Peridance's Winter Faculty Showcase

A moment from a previous Peridance faculty showcase

Spirits were high and contemporary was king at Peridance’s Winter 2014 Faculty Showcase on Sunday. Despite an ambitious program—12 pieces—and a sizeable crowd, the show ran smoothly and quickly, clocking in at two hours. With this showcase, Peridance has created a chance to drum up interest in its diverse faculty, as students often get to participate in these works—sometimes alongside the faculty choreographers.

My favorites from the evening include Grant Chang’s sassy, tongue-in-cheek Miss AMERICAN’T, Marlena Wolfe’s Irish step dancing-influenced Kyte and Breton Tyner-Bryan’s well-dressed (and heeled) SELF. Though I find that contemporary dance is often prone to overly dramatic gestures and yearning faces, the dancers were enjoying themselves far too much last night to be anything but entertaining—I found myself with renewed interest in getting to dance class, myself.

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.

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