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

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, 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
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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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