When Dance Can Set You F R E E

Photo by Liz Feder, courtesy of F R E E

For the students at Destiny Arts Center, dance isn't just an after-school activity, it's a lifesaving experience. At the Oakland, California–based program, children and teens ages 3–18 learn to express themselves through dance, theater and martial arts in a safe space. And in the process they build community and self-respect.

Check out F R E E, the inspirational documentary that follows five Oakland teens through a year in the Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company. You'll see how Nee Nee, Tilly, Jamany, Omar and Alaysia confront the realities of violence, poverty, sexual abuse and illness in their own lives, as they work together to choreograph a dance.

Watch the trailer for the film.

Teachers Trending
Marcus Ingram, courtesy Ingram

"Water breaks are not Instagram breaks."

That's a cardinal rule at Central Virginia Dance Academy, and it applies even to the studio's much beloved social media stars.

For more than a decade, CVDA has been the home studio of Kennedy George and Ava Holloway, the 14-year-old dancers who became Instagram sensations after posing on the pedestal of Richmond's Robert E. Lee Monument. Clad in black leotards and tutus, they raise their fists aloft to depict a global push for racial justice.

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Teacher Voices
Photo courtesy Rhee Gold Company

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, there has been a shift in our community that is so impressive that the impact could last long into our future. Although required school closures have hit the dance education field hard, what if, when looking back on this time, we see that it's been an incredible renaissance for dance educators, studio owners and the young dancers in our charge?

How could that be, you ask?

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Teachers Trending
Photo by Yvonne M. Portra, courtesy Faulkner

It's a Wednesday in May, and 14 Stanford University advanced modern ­dance students are logged on to Zoom, each practicing a socially distanced duet with an imaginary person. "Think about the quality of their personality and the type of duet you might have," says their instructor Katie Faulkner, "but also their surface area and how you'd relate to them in space." Amid dorm rooms, living rooms, dining rooms and backyards, the dancers make do with cramped quarters and dodge furniture as they twist, curve, stretch and intertwine with their imaginary partners.

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