Dance News

Dance/NYC Creates New Conference for Foreign-Born Artists

Calpulli Mexican Dance Company. Photo by Michael Palma, courtesy of Dance/NYC

What makes a dance performance "traditional," "cultural" or "ethnic"? What if that dance or dance style is so deeply intertwined within a family or community's life, they don't see it as a "dance," a "dance form" or even as "art"?


These are questions that get raised when you put together a group of dance artists from around the world—in this case, 14 people who serve on Dance/NYC's Immigrants. Dance. Arts. Initiative task force. "We're in a deep space of inquiry as we consider the varied experience that people have as an immigrant, and the reality of safety given the current political environment," says Alejandra Duque Cifuentes, Dance/NYC's director of programming and justice initiatives. "Ultimately, the desired outcome is to add to the momentum of immigrant rights."

This month Dance/NYC's first conference for its immigrants in dance initiative is free and open to the public in Corona, Queens—one of the most diverse places in the world—in partnership with the New York City Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs and Queens Theatre. There will be two keynote speakers, panel discussions, breakout sessions, presenters and opportunities for one-to-one consultations, as well as a networking lunch and a services fair. Simultaneous translation in Spanish, Korean and Chinese will be offered.

Pelenakeke Brown and Candace Thompson of Dance/NYC's Immigrants. Dance. Arts. Initiative task force. Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones

"Having a conference that focuses on immigrant artists is powerful," says Pelenakeke Brown, a task force member and an artist, writer and performer from New Zealand. "It shows you that you can exist, that you can acclimatize, meet people, build communities and see what the landscape looks like. The visibility of what this could be for immigrants—many of whom are scared to say they are one—will be so supportive. It's huge."

Dance/NYC's immigrants in dance network—which already has 100-plus members with hardly any active marketing as of this past summer—is an online community that provides information on activity within the New York City metropolitan area.

Before Dance/NYC started the initiative, immigrant artists were part of the "underbelly of the New York City dance scene," says Candace Thompson, a task force member and founding executive director of the Caribbean Dance COLLECTIVE. "There hasn't been a public space to discuss issues, such as identifying as an immigrant or the emotional connections that comes with being an immigrant. The policies this initiative could affect...the ripple effects of what the conference stands for...could be monumental."

The conference takes place November 8, at The Kupferberg Center for the Arts at Queens College, 12 pm to 8 pm.

For more: dance.nyc/IDAC

The Conversation
Dance News
Photo by Rachel Papo

When Monica Stephenson was a student at Houston Ballet Academy, she was cast as Lauren Anderson's swan double in Swan Lake. The role was just a few walks in Odile's tutu and a veil as the scene changed, but it was a thrill for the 18-year-old Stephenson. Anderson, one of the few principal ballerinas of color, was the inspiration for Stephenson to attend Houston Ballet Academy.

For the role, wardrobe gave Stephenson a few pairs of Anderson's special-order pointe shoes that were brown to match her skin tone. "That really helped me," Stephenson says. "I wound up wearing her specs my entire career. Sometimes people don't realize when they're impacting a young person."

Stephenson never forgot what it meant to have a role model like Anderson. She knew she'd want to inspire ballet students of color herself someday.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Getty Images

Competition is a dance teacher's battleground, and in order to be victorious, you need to have a few defenses in your bag at all times. You never know when something unexpected will happen, and your students will need their trusty dance teacher/hero to come in and fix everything. To help you be the most prepared you can be, we've compiled a list of essentials you should have on you at all times during competition. Keep them with you, and the weekend is yours for the taking!

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Courtesy Harlequin Floors

Just like your car, your studio needs periodic tune-ups to keep it humming along smoothly. If you take the time to address a few small fixes, your business will stand out. And you don't have to break the bank, either—you might be surprised how low-cost, DIY improvements can make a surprising difference.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Susannah Israel-Marchese with students at School of Ballet Hartford; photo by Frank Marchese, courtesy of SBH

At Michigan Ballet Academy, artistic director Irina Vassileni meets with a group of eager young students and their parents. She holds a shiny new pair of pointe shoes in one hand and an old, worn pair in the other. "I show them all the details, inside and out, and how working on pointe for hours will break down the shoe," says Vassileni. "I might even bring in different models and talk about how they're made. Parents need a lot of information to make them feel comfortable about their children going on pointe."

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Photo via @bettycrocker on Instagram

Here at Dance Teacher, we never miss out on a chance to help you be super EXTRA for the holidays. This month, we give you recipes to four different St. Patrick's Day treats you might consider handing out in class for your studio's celebration. Your dancers will love the festiveness, and you can use them as bribery for good behavior if you're feeling desperate (guilty 🙋♀️).

Check them out, and let us know what kinds of treats you like to make at your studio for St. Patrick's Day!

Oh, and you're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Noe Leilani via @joandjax on Instagram

It's officially March, and you know what that means—green dance gear all around! Your students will come to class looking like jolly-green leprechauns, and you wouldn't have it any other way—it's way too much fun! To help you and your dancers find your best green getup, here are three green outfit ideas that will fulfill all your St. Patrick's Day needs. No pinching needed!

You're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Getty Images

Cleaning competition numbers is a process—and a difficult one at that. Making your dancers look cohesive without draining them of their passion and individuality can feel like an impossible task.

Here are some tips and tricks that may make it easier for you!

You're welcome.

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
Emily Giacalone, modeled by Nicole Kennedy of Marymount Manhattan College

We get it: Dance is exhausting, and sometimes all you want to do during a quick break is, well, nothing. Bill Evans, director of the Evans Somatic Dance Institute, recommends the following options, which are both relaxing and recuperative for the stresses dance puts on your body. From energizing restorative poses to deep breathing, here are five ways to make your downtime work for you.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Amber Johnson at Deland Middle School. Courtesy of DMS

For a young student in the process of developing bodily awareness, a hands-on adjustment by a teacher can mean the difference between safe and incorrect alignment. But in many K–12 schools today, a hands-on approach is frowned upon or sometimes even forbidden. With dance being a kinesthetic art, this limitation presents a predicament for K–12 dance teachers. Here, two teachers share their views on whether to use touch in class and, if so, how they go about it.

Keep reading... Show less
Unsplash

When it comes to running a thriving dance studio, Cindy Clough knows what she's talking about. As executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner for more than four decades, she's all too aware of the unique challenges the job presents, from teaching to scheduling to managing employees and clients.

Here, Clough shares her best advice for new studio owners, and the answers to some common questions that come up when you're getting started.

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
Like many dance traditions, it started at the Paris Opéra. (Edgar Degas' "The Dance Class")

The dance world is brimming with superstitions. One of the most common is never to say "good luck" before a show, since everyone knows uttering the phrase is, in fact, very bad luck. Actors say "break a leg" instead. But since that phrase isn't exactly dance-friendly, you and your dance friends probably tell each other "merde" before taking the stage.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "merde" is a French exclamation that loosely translates to, er, "poop." So how did dancers end up saying "merde" to each other instead of "good luck"?

To learn more, we spoke to Raymond Lukens, associate emeritus of the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum, and Kelli Rhodes-Stevens, professor of dance at Oklahoma City University. Read on—and the next time you exchange "merdes" with your castmates before a show, you'll know why.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
via YouTube

We knew we adored Ben Platt when we saw him sing his heart out through sobs in Dear Evan Hansen back in 2016, but now that he's put out a music video with some fantastic dancers as the titular characters, we are positively in love with him!

Check out the emotional new music video to, "Grow as We Go" with Rudy Abreu and Effie Tutko. The L.A. superstars are positively stunning in it! Let us know if you agree over on our Facebook page.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox