Dance Celebrates Grand Central Terminal

On Friday, Grand Central Terminal celebrated its 100th birthday in classic Big Apple fashion: sensational performances attended by huge crowds of spectators.

Highlights of the all-day event included addresses by Cynthia Nixon, Billy Collins and legendary Mets player Keith Hernandez. Musical performances ranged from the West Point band to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's electric violinist Sarah Charness. And then of course the dancing: the Knicks City Dancers, Knicks City Kids and Keigwin + Company made appearances, as well as hundreds of young students from NYC's Dancing Classrooms, a public school ballroom dance outreach program and subject of the 2005 documentary Mad Hot Ballroom.

Photographer Jason Lewis captured these images of students foxtrotting, rhumba-ing and waltzing across Grand Central's main concourse floor, an opportunity few dancers can hope to experience:

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All photos courtesy of Goodman Media for Grand Central Terminal

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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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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