Trending

My First Year as a Public-School Teacher: "We Had Half the Starting Lineup From the Football Team in Our Nutcracker"

Photo by Elizabeth Byam, courtesy of Tina Philibotte

In Take the Lead, actor Antonio Banderas wins over a group of reluctant inner-city students with a racy tango performance. While the 2006 film was inspired by Pierre Dulaine, ballroom dancer and founder of Dancing Classrooms, teaching in a public school is rarely as easy as it looks in the movies. From financial challenges to lack of administrative support and parental involvement, public-school teaching differs greatly from the studio environments in which most dance educators began their own training. We asked several public-school teachers to share their passion for the hardest job they've ever done. —Kat Richter


Tina Philibotte

Goffstown High School

Goffstown, New Hampshire

To recruit male students, I met one-on-one with all of the coaches at our school to explain how dance would be good for their athletes. We have chosen to keep our dance classes within the fine arts division, instead of awarding the students a PE credit, and this makes it popular with many of our athletes, who would rather move than sit down to fulfill their arts requirement.

Students in the Movement & Dance Company class study ballet in the fall and then modern, jazz and tap in the spring. Our dance classes have grown to include about 25 percent male students, and we had half the starting lineup from the football team in our Nutcracker, plus the school's quarterback starring as Romeo in one of our storybook ballets. Our girls also spent a session in the weight room with a female school security officer. She helped to demystify their fear of going in there with all the male athletes around and trained them to use the equipment.

Teacher Voices

There were plenty of reasons why we were happy to bid 2020 a not-so-fond farewell, but for tap dancers, the end of such a difficult year was the final curtain on a decade in which the art form experienced remarkable growth.

Over the past 10 years, The School at Jacob's Pillow launched its first-ever tap programs; companies such as Dorrance Dance and Caleb Teicher & Company emerged and produced award-winning work; Operation Tap became an important voice in online tap education; the American Tap Dance Foundation established its new home in Greenwich Village; The Kennedy Center presented its first full-length tap concert; and so much more.

As the new year sees tap dance trying to maintain this positive momentum despite the ongoing restrictions of the pandemic, we invited several of the field's living legends to meet on Zoom and discuss how they perceive the current state of tap dance and tap education.

Keep reading... Show less
Teacher Voices
Getty Images

In 2001, young Chanel, a determined, ambitious, fiery, headstrong teenager, was about to begin her sophomore year at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, also known as the highly acclaimed "Fame" school. I was a great student, a promising young dancer and well-liked by my teachers and my peers. On paper, everything seemed in order. In reality, this picture-perfect image was fractured. There was a crack that I've attempted to hide, cover up and bury for nearly 20 years.

Keep reading... Show less
Health & Body
Getty Images

Though the #MeToo movement has spurred many dancers to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and abuse, the dance world has yet to have a full reckoning on the subject. Few institutions have made true cultural changes, and many alleged predators continue to work in the industry.

As Chanel DaSilva's story shows, young dancers are particularly vulnerable to abuse because of the power differential between teacher and student. We spoke with eight experts in dance, education and psychology about steps that dance schools could take to protect their students from sexual abuse.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.