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Clockwise from top left: Courtesy Ford Foundation; Christian Peacock; Nathan James, Courtesy Gibson; David Gonsier, courtesy Marshall; Bill Zemanek, courtesy King; Josefina Santos, courtesy Brown; Jayme Thornton; Ian Douglas, courtesy American Realness

Since 1954, the Dance Magazine Awards have celebrated the living legends of our field—from Martha Graham to Misty Copeland to Alvin Ailey to Gene Kelly.

This year is no different. But for the first time ever, the Dance Magazine Awards will be presented virtually—which is good news for aspiring dancers (and their teachers!) everywhere. (Plus, there's a special student rate of $25.)

The Dance Magazine Awards aren't just a celebration of the people who shape the dance field—they're a unique educational opportunity and a chance for dancers to see their idols up close.

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Courtesy Russell

Gregg Russell, an Emmy-nominated choreographer known for his passionate and energetic teaching, passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, November 22, at the age of 48.

While perhaps most revered as a master tap instructor and performer, Russell also frequently taught hip-hop and musical theater classes, showcasing a versatility that secured him a successful career onstage and in film and television, both nationally and abroad.

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Betty Jones in The Moor's Pavane, shot for Dance Magazine's "Dancers You Should Know" series in 1955. Zachary Freyman, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow

An anchor of the Humphrey-Limón legacy for more than 70 years, Betty Jones died at her home in Honolulu on November 17, 2020. She remained active well into her 90s, most recently leading a New York workshop with her husband and partner, Fritz Ludin, in October 2019.

Betty May Jones was born on June 11, 1926 in Meadville, Pennsylvania, and moved with her family to the Albany, New York, area, where she began taking dance classes. Just after she turned 15 in 1941, she began serious ballet study at Jacob's Pillow, which was under the direction of Anton Dolin and Alicia Markova for the season. Over the next three summers as a scholarship student, Jones expanded her range and became an integral part of Jacob's Pillow. Among her duties was working in the kitchen, where her speedy efficiency earned her the nickname of "Lightning."

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David Parker and Aileen Passloff speaking after a show at the 92nd Street Y in 2018. Liz Schneider-Cohen, Courtesy Audrey Ross/Publicity

Choreographer, dancer and teacher Aileen Passloff died on Tuesday, November 3, at age 89 after a five-year fight with cancer. Arthur Aviles and Charlotte Hendrickson, dancers and close friends of Passloff's, were present when she passed away.

In a 2019 article for The New York Times, Gia Kourlas called Passloff's long career "a mighty one that has spanned ballet, modern dance and postmodern dance." Passloff was a member of Judson Dance Theater and a professor of dance at Bard College for over 40 years.

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Getty Images

When COVID-19 forced college classes onto Zoom in March, dance professors scrambled to figure out how to represent physical movement in digital space.

Later in the summer, equipped with cleaning supplies and masks, some institutions announced plans for in-person instruction for the fall semester.

But as the pandemic found its way into dorms and classrooms, many schools quickly shifted back to Zoom University's virtual hallways. Across the country, dance departments spent the first half of the semester leaping back and forth between in-person and online existences. Here, six professors share their experiences.

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