Editor's Note: Off to an Early Start

As dance educators who practically live in the studio, we can sometimes forget that our chosen artform is a rather privileged activity. That’s why Dance Teacher loves to tell the stories of those who devote themselves to widening the circle. This month, for instance, we visit Toni and Uri Sands of TU Dance Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. The former Ailey performers pictured on the cover have made it their mission to identify children whose socioeconomic status is unlikely to lead them to the dance studio, let alone pre-professional-level training. The Sands’ experience demonstrates that even in cities where training opportunities are abundant, there is often room for more. Good news for dance!

Another way to enlarge the circle is by introducing children to dance at an early age. Movement activities can prime the brain for learning in school. And creative dance helps toddlers develop social skills. For those of you considering adding a pre-K program to your curriculum, “Building Brains and Bodies” offers some great advice. And in “Technique,” tapper Courtney Runft shows how to initiate your youngest future hoofers.

As you’re wrapping up your National Dance Week activities (April 26–May 5), you might find yourself asking if your efforts were worth the trouble. In “Event-Planning Toolbox,” three studio directors confirm that visibility is as valuable as profit. They discuss the details of effective event planning—not only the how and what, but the all-important why.

And just as NDW is a great time to show off your studio, so is National Tap Dance Day. This month in “History,” we celebrate Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, whose birthday we recognize every May 25. Post the quick lesson plan on your student bulletin board. Even if tap isn’t their thing, serious dancers know their history!

The Dance Teacher Summit is August 5–7. We’re gearing up for a great 2013 event, so mark your calendar and arrange for your annual trip to NYC now. The Summit is where the pages of Dance Teacher magazine come to life. I hope to see you there! danceteachersummit.com

Photo by Nathan Sayers

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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Health & Body
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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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Technique
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.

To help dancers learn to efficiently use what she calls "Mother Marley," Genn has developed these clever techniques and teaching tools.

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