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Five Opportunities for Professional Development, Express Delivery to Your Living Room

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It can be tricky to get away for a conference, whether due to travel budget concerns or finding a substitute to cover your absence. One silver lining of the pandemic is that five conferences are now available online, no travel necessary. You'll find sessions to address your concerns no matter what your role in the dance community—whether you're on the business side, interested in curriculum development, need continuing ed certification, or a performer who wants to teach. Why not gather colleagues from your studio or school for an educational watch party to inspire you as you launch into the new school year?


First Annual UNITY Leadership Conference

August 8–9; $125

UNITY promotes cooperation among dance organizations and addresses certification and standards for dance education. This inaugural leadership conference offers 13 sessions that cover both teaching and management topics. You'll hear from industry leaders such as Rhee Gold and Susan McGreevy-Nichols—plus a Dance Teacher session featuring Gina Gibney. All videos and materials will be available for 60 days after the conference.

Two sessions of note:

  • "Encouraging a More Diverse Membership" (LaShonda Chaney and Janine Hart)
  • "Thinking Big as a Dance Studio Owner" (Karen Hildebrand talks with Gina Gibney)

Register here

ConQuest, a Virtual Conference for Dance Professionals

August 14–16; free

Geared to dance studio owners and other professionals who work in the studio space, this conference was designed specifically for distance learning and includes workshops, panels, roundtable sessions, master classes and a special program for dancers under 18. Plus, Dance Teacher will be hosting a workshop on "Dismantling Racism in the Dance Studio and Beyond."

Two sessions of note:

  • "Why I Trashed the Trophies: How to Make Meaningful Disruption in Your Dance Studio" (Chasta Hamilton)
  • "Parent Solutions: How to Take the Complaints of Your Clients and Turn Them Into Gold" (Kerrin Michaels)

Register here

Dance Educators Training Institute (DETI)

August 17–19; $100

Co-presented by ClancyWorks Dance Company and Baltimore County Public Schools, DETI offers four workshops on each of the three days, with topics such as teaching online, racial equity, somatics, composition and technique.

Two sessions of note:

  • "Building Racial Equity: Creating Space for Productive Conversations About Race" (Rajeeyah Finnie-Myers of Race Forward)
  • "Managing Your Virtual Classroom: Netiquette" (Stephanie Crockett of Baltimore County Public Schools and Darryl Pilate of Prince George's County Public Schools)

5th Annual International Teaching Artists Conference (ITAC5)

September 14–17; $200 ($50 options for artists impacted by COVID-19 pandemic)

Teaching artists from 19 countries will present a fascinating array of topics in more than 40 sessions. Each day has a theme: Tuesday: Unlearning; Wednesday: Local & Nomadic Practices; Thursday: Peace & Reconciliation.

Two sessions of note:

  • "Creative Unlearning: Embracing Ambiguity" (Dana L. Squires)
  • "Teaching Chinese Dance in a Global Community—Practices and Challenges" (Ling Tang)

Register here

National Dance Education Organization (NDEO)

October 23–25; $50–$195

NDEO hosts one of the largest annual dance education conferences in the U.S. This year's theme is "Dance and Society: Developing Community, Empathy, and Understanding through Dance." Details of the conference program to be announced soon.

Register here

Teachers Trending
Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

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Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

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Dancer Diary
Claire, McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

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