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

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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Teaching Tips
Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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