Join NYC Dance Leaders in the Juneteenth March for "Justice, Dignity and Equity"

Tiffany Rea-Fisher at an earlier march. Photo courtesy of Elisa Monte Dance

Juneteenth is a holiday celebrated annually on June 19 to mark the end of slavery in the United States. Though it's long been celebrated in many Black communities, it's not currently recognized as a national or federal holiday. Yet as Black Lives Matter protests continue nationwide, the occasion has garnered more visibility and attention this year.

The dance community is involved too. This Friday, June 19, at 2 pm, Elisa Monte Dance's artistic director Tiffany Rea-Fisher is co-hosting the first annual Juneteenth March at city hall in downtown Manhattan, alongside other activists and community leaders from across New York City.

Rea-Fisher has called on fellow members of the dance community to march with her. The International Association of Blacks in Dance and Dance/NYC are among confirmed participants. Dance/NYC will provide interpreters. Those marching will gather at two meeting spots near city hall: the corner of Chambers and Centre Streets (just east of Gibney's 280 Broadway location) and at Broadway and Park Row.

The Facebook event asks people to join "to protest for the justice, dignity and equity that Black Lives are owed." The primary goal is to advocate for passing the Andrew Kearse Act, a bill that calls for police officers to be held accountable for refusing medical care to people in custody.

Rea-Fisher, who identifies as both an artist and a community organizer, intends for the event to lead to further conversations about issues of race in America and within the dance community.

Beyond the Juneteenth March, Rea-Fisher has plans to continue to facilitate opportunities for discussions about race and advocacy throughout the summer. On June 25, she will join The Future of Executive Development's public forum on talking about race and taking meaningful action within an organizational context. And on June 30, Rea-Fisher will host another of EMD's public town halls, joined by former Bessie Award executive director Lucy Sexton and members of EMD, Dance Theater of Harlem and Paul Taylor Dance Company to consider the relationship between the arts, civil rights and activism. Rea-Fisher will also continue to serve as a guest lecturer at Dartmouth College for a course called "The Hazel Scott Project: Artist as Activist," taught alongside John Heginbotham, Virginia Johnson and Dartmouth professor Dr. Monica White Ndounou.

At The Dance Union's town hall on Monday evening Rea-Fisher reminded listeners that, as dancers, training one's voice is as important as training any other muscle of the body. For Friday's Juneteenth March, Rea-Fisher said, "All are welcome."

For Parents

Darrell Grand Moultrie teaches at a past Jacob's Pillow summer intensive. Photo Christopher Duggan, courtesy Jacob's Pillow

In the past 10 months, we've grown accustomed to helping our dancers navigate virtual school, classes and performances. And while brighter, more in-person days may be around the corner—or at least on the horizon—parents may be facing yet another hurdle to help our dancers through: virtual summer-intensive auditions.

In 2020, we learned that there are some unique advantages of virtual summer programs: the lack of travel (and therefore the reduced cost) and the increased access to classes led by top artists and teachers among them. And while summer 2021 may end up looking more familiar with in-person intensives, audition season will likely remain remote and over Zoom.

Of course, summer 2021 may not be back to in-person, and that uncertainty can be a hard pill to swallow. Here, Kate Linsley, a mom and academy principal of Nashville Ballet, as well as "J.R." Glover, The Dan & Carole Burack Director of The School at Jacob's Pillow, share their advice for this complicated process.

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Teachers Trending

From left: Anthony Crickmay, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem Archives; Courtesy Ballethnic

It is the urgency of going in a week or two before opening night that Lydia Abarca Mitchell loves most about coaching. But in her role as Ballethnic Dance Company's rehearsal director, she's not just getting the troupe ready for the stage. Abarca Mitchell—no relation to Arthur Mitchell—was Mitchell's first prima ballerina when he founded Dance Theatre of Harlem with Karel Shook; through her coaching, Abarca Mitchell works to pass her mentor's legacy to the next generation.

"She has the same sensibility" as Arthur Mitchell, says Ballethnic co-artistic director Nena Gilreath. "She's very direct, all about the mission and the excellence, but very caring."

Ballethnic is based in East Point, a suburban city bordering Atlanta. In a metropolitan area with a history of racism and where funding is hard-won, it is crucial for the Black-led ballet company to present polished, professional productions. "Ms. Lydia" provides the "hard last eye" before the curtain opens in front of an audience.

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Higher Ed
Courtesy Benny Simon

It's safe to say that the 2020 fall semester was a learning experience for college dance departments and students alike.

While Zoom and socially distanced dancing had their obvious frustrations, professors met many of them with creative solutions that not only served as satisfactory replacements for "normal" learning, but also gave students valuable new perspectives that will last beyond the pandemic.

Dance Teacher rounded up four of our favorite examples:

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