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The Conversation
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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Sponsored by Harlequin Floors

The current pandemic has studio owners everywhere rethinking business as usual. One dirty little secret that's been exposed? Before COVID-19, many of us weren't giving our floors nearly enough attention. As Derryl Yeager, founder and artistic director of Odyssey Dance Theatre in Draper, UT, says, "A lot of times, the floor wouldn't be deep-cleaned more than once a month—and dance floors can get pretty gross!"

This new era is a perfect opportunity to start taking better care of your studio flooring—which, in turn, will help ensure a healthy, supportive surface for your dancers and teachers. We turned to two studio owners and Harlequin Floors, the global leader in advanced technology dance flooring, for advice on keeping your dance studio floors in top shape this season.

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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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Sponsored by Jackrabbit Dance
An outdoor class at Miller Street Dance Academy. Courtesy MSDA

Between COVID-19 restrictions and a difficult economic climate, fall enrollment is looking more uncertain than ever for dance studios.

What can studio owners do to ensure their numbers are as high as possible? Provide an easy and exceptional experience for their studio families.

At a recent webinar hosted by Dance Business Weekly and sponsored by Jackrabbit Dance, we talked to Molly Stroud, digital marketing specialist at Jackrabbit Dance and Michelle Soutier, owner of Miller Street Dance Academy, about why customer service is more important than ever—and how to deliver excellent support for parents when the future is so unpredictable.

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News
Rambert artistic director Benoit Swan Pouffer had input on the new Rambert Grades curriculum. Photo by Camilla Greenwell, Courtesy Rambert

British dance company and school Rambert has launched a new contemporary-dance training syllabus. Rambert Grades is intended to set a benchmark in contemporary-dance training, focused on three strands: performance, technique and creativity. Moving beyond the Graham and Cunningham techniques that form the basis of most modern-dance training in the UK, it includes contributions from current high-profile choreographers Hofesh Shechter, Alesandra Seutin and Rambert artistic director Benoit Swan Pouffer.

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Sponsored by CLI Studios

In the "new normal" of dance training shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing has become clear: Having a solid plan for virtual dance instruction is crucial to helping studios stay afloat. Luckily, CLI Studios has been leading the online dance education scene since 2014. And with its Studio Partnership Program, CLI has helped studios nationwide fill in the gaps in their student learning experience, often becoming a lifeline for them during the pandemic.

CLI's Studio Partnership Program, a membership-based online platform, works directly with local studio owners to keep students engaged, teachers inspired, and studios profitable, no matter what pandemic-related restrictions they may be facing. With over 800 recorded dance classes in a range of styles, continuing-education resources for teachers, and live-streaming events for students, the program includes everything dance teachers and studio owners need to create a thriving online curriculum, which opens up time and resources for those same teachers to focus on in-person training.

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For Parents
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As studios in many areas begin to open up with safety protocols in place, dance students are, of course, itching to get back into class. But just because dancers can go back to in-person training doesn't mean all families are ready for their children to actually do so.

As a parent, it's understandable to feel caught between a rock (your dancer's will to attend in-person class) and a hard place (your concerns surrounding COVID-19). Yet no matter how many tears are shed or how much bargaining your dancer tries, the bottom line is that when it comes to issues of health and safety, you—the parent—have the final say.

Still, there may be ways to soften the blow, as well as best practices for setting or amending expectations. We asked Danielle Zar, a child and adolescent psychotherapist who specializes in parent education, to share some tips for this tricky situation.

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Dance Teacher Awards
Photo courtesy Black

Missed the 2020 Dance Teacher Awards? Watch them on-demand here.

When you hear Kim Black talk about her teaching career, there is no doubt she's found her life's purpose: Sparking the imaginations of preschool dancers while building their confidence.

"I do what I do best, and that's empowering little ones," she says. Better known as "Miss Kim" in the Burlington, North Carolina, community where she has been a dance educator for more than 30 years, the bubbly dynamo has developed quite a loyal following, as former students often enroll their children in her classes.

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Health & Body
Jason Facey, Courtesy of Betty Rox

Three broken ribs, two broken ankles and one broken wrist. These are the last things a dancer wants to hear, let alone experience. On September 28, 2019, dancehall and soca choreographer and teacher Betty Rox found herself facing this reality when she was struck by a car while out for a walk in Los Angeles, California. She awakened in the arms of a caring stranger, unable to move.

But despite her initial disorientation and multiple injuries, her optimistic mindset led her down a path to a speedy recovery. Here's what got her back to dancing.

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Teachers Trending
Carolyn DiLoreto, courtesy USC Kaufman

Tiffany Bong has spent her career stepping into unexpected territory and making magic—a skill that's made all the difference in the face of COVID-19. As an 18-year-old freshman at Santa Clara University, she took her very first dance class, which set her on a path contrary to the expectations of her traditional Chinese household. "I was told I could either become a doctor or a lawyer," the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance hip-hop teacher says. "I didn't see myself in either of those, so I majored in psychology and dance without my parents knowing."

Upon graduation, Bong joined the Bay Area branch of the international hip-hop company Culture Shock. One year later, she moved to Los Angeles with $1,000 in her bank account, a car and no game plan. "I dove into classes at EDGE and Millennium, making up for lost training," she says. "But my real training came from dancing at the clubs all night long." Soon, she was progressing enough to join (and eventually win) battles.

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Studio Owners
Gina Gibney, at the newly restored expansion of 280 Broadway in lower Manhattan. Photo by Buck Ennis for Crain's NY Business, courtesy Gibney

Gina Gibney is CEO and artistic director of Gibney, a $6 million organization that occupies two locations of prime New York City real estate, with 52,000 square feet, 23 studios and five performance spaces. But when Gibney first founded her company of five dancers in 1991, it operated out of one studio. The story of how everything went wrong that could go wrong, and yet the organization rose to became one of the liveliest dance hubs in the city, is a fascinating example of judicious risk taking. When faced with the choice in 2010 to cut back and play it safe or to take a risk and grow, Gibney took a leap. She did that again in 2013 when she had the opportunity to take over the lease of 280 Broadway in lower Manhattan, now the main location for the Gibney organization.

In August, Gibney joined Dance Teacher editor at large Karen Hildebrand at the Unity 2020 Virtual Leadership Conference to discuss what it takes as a business leader to succeed—particularly in a year like 2020. Here are six takeaways from that event:

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