Esplanade for a New Era

Students of The Ailey School gave a superb dance performance the evening of January 12 to a packed house at The Ailey Citigroup Theater in New York City. Dancers from the Professional Performing Arts School, the Junior Division, Professional Division and Ailey/Fordham B.F.A programs all showed their love of performing, but the Ailey/Fordham freshmen who performed in exceprts of Takehiro Ueyama’s 2008 piece, Linked, caught my eyes in particular. Dancers in this piece exhibited an unequaled amount of stamina and a passion for movement that was extremely evident and infectious.

Roughly 15 minutes of running, jumping, falling, turning, running and more jumping, the excerpt of Ueyama’s piece was a perfect fit for fresh talent, ready to leap into the vast world of dance. With dancers clad in jeans, tees and tanks, the lighthearted and joyous mood of the piece—reminiscent of Paul Taylor’s Esplanade (1975)—seemed to celebrate humanity and new beginnings. It was wonderful to see the students smile and interact with one another on stage; and in return, most members of the audience were smiling back. It’s clear why Ueyama’s master classes in New York City this week are apparently full—the unbounded and expansive movements just looked fun. I hope the dancers bring this much energy to their daily classes, every performance and exam—their work in Linked proved that they have the potential to be unstoppable.

Higher Ed
Charles Anderson (center) in his (Re)current Unrest. Photo by Kegan Marling, courtesy of UT Austin

Given the long history of American choreographers who have threaded activism into their work—Katherine Dunham, Pearl Primus, Donald McKayle, Joanna Haigood, Bill T. Jones, Jo Kreiter, to name a few—it's perhaps surprising that collegiate dance has offered so little in the way of training future generations to do the same.

Until now, that is. Within the last three years, two master's programs have cropped up, each the first of its kind: Ohio University's MA in community dance (new this fall), and the University of Texas at Austin's dance and social justice MFA, which emerged from its existing MFA program in 2018. These two programs join the University of San Francisco's undergraduate performing arts and social justice major, with a concentration in dance, which has been around since 2000.

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Teacher Voices
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As many dance teachers begin another semester of virtual teaching, it is time to acknowledge the fact that virtual classes aren't actually accessible to all students.

When schools and studios launched their virtual dance programs at the beginning of the pandemic, many operated under the assumption that all their students would be able to take class online. But in reality, lack of access to technology and Wi-Fi is a major issue for many low-income students across the country, in many cases cutting them off from the classes and resources their peers can enjoy from home.

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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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