NDEO’s Teacher Evaluation Conference Confronts Big Issues in Public Schools

We know dance teachers aren’t scruffy. Make sure your school system does, too.

Last week, inspectors from England’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, better known as Ofsted, condemned dance teachers’ “scruffy” appearance in a London secondary school. The dance community leaped (metaphorically) to the teachers’ defense, explaining that—obviously, some would say—dance educators need to wear more movement-friendly clothing than math teachers. The incident even prompted a #danceteachersarentscruffy hashtag and photo-posting trend on Twitter.

This spring, the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) will host a conference to prevent similar errors and confusion in U.S. teacher evaluations. Scheduled for May 16–18 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Charting the Course: Approaches to Teacher Evaluation for K–12 Dance Educators offers a chance for dance teachers to learn about issues surrounding national teacher evaluations and to develop solutions that can be implemented in their own local school districts, ensuring dance instructors are evaluated fairly and accurately in academic environments. With the right practices in place, schools will hopefully be less likely to suggest a suit-and-tie dress code in creative movement class, or worse, fire effective educators.

For more information, visit ndeo.org

Photo by Patty Kaufman, Cactus High School

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Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

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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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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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