Denise Jefferson Honored by Her Daughter in Dance

Harper in The Look of Feeling

In times of grief, artists turn to their craft to cope. Francesca Harper, director of the Francesca Harper Project and a contemporary and hip hop teacher in New York City, is no exception.

In 2010, the modern dance choreographer said good-bye to her mother, Ailey School founding director Denise Jefferson. The entire dance world felt the loss of a luminary.

Just in time for Mother’s Day, Harper will premiere The Look of Feeling, a one-woman show chronicling Jeffferson’s extraordinary life. Using dance, song and a few costume changes, Harper recounts her mother’s family’s escape from slavery, her experiences during the Civil Rights movement, even her battle with cancer.

Channeling her loss into art, Harper offers audiences a rare personal look into the life of the dance education icon we knew only through her work.

The Look of Feeling premieres May 2 at the Susan Batson Studio Theater in NYC. Click here for information and tickets.

The Look of Feeling Promo from The Francesca Harper Project on Vimeo.

Dance Teacher Awards

Who knew that a virtual awards ceremony could bring our community together in such a powerful way?

Last night, we celebrated the annual Dance Teacher Awards, held virtually for the first time. Though it was different from what we're used to, this new setting inspired us to get creative in celebrating our six extraordinary honorees. In fact, one of the most enlivening parts of the event was one that could only happen in a Zoom room: Watching as countless tributes, stories and congratulations poured in on the chat throughout the event. Seeing firsthand the impact our awardees have had on so many lives reminded us why we chose to honor them.

If you missed the Awards (or just want to relive them), you're in luck—they are now available to watch on-demand. We rounded up some of the highlights:

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News
Rambert artistic director Benoit Swan Pouffer had input on the new Rambert Grades curriculum. Photo by Camilla Greenwell, Courtesy Rambert

British dance company and school Rambert has launched a new contemporary-dance training syllabus. Rambert Grades is intended to set a benchmark in contemporary-dance training, focused on three strands: performance, technique and creativity. Moving beyond the Graham and Cunningham techniques that form the basis of most modern-dance training in the UK, it includes contributions from current high-profile choreographers Hofesh Shechter, Alesandra Seutin and Rambert artistic director Benoit Swan Pouffer.

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For Parents
Getty Images

As studios in many areas begin to open up with safety protocols in place, dance students are, of course, itching to get back into class. But just because dancers can go back to in-person training doesn't mean all families are ready for their children to actually do so.

As a parent, it's understandable to feel caught between a rock (your dancer's will to attend in-person class) and a hard place (your concerns surrounding COVID-19). Yet no matter how many tears are shed or how much bargaining your dancer tries, the bottom line is that when it comes to issues of health and safety, you—the parent—have the final say.

Still, there may be ways to soften the blow, as well as best practices for setting or amending expectations. We asked Danielle Zar, a child and adolescent psychotherapist who specializes in parent education, to share some tips for this tricky situation.

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