News: Awards

* Daniel Lewis, founding dean of dance at New World School of the Arts in Miami, FL, received the National Dance Education Organization’s Lifetime Achievement award at its annual conference in October at Arizona State University. Deborah Damast of the New York University Steinhardt School of Education received NDEO’s Outstanding Educator award, and the Outstanding Leadership award went to Julie Kerr-Berry, associate professor of dance at Minnesota State University.


* The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has announced that Tony Award–winning choreo-grapher Bill T. Jones will receive a 2010 Kennedy Center Honor on December 28. The presentation will be broadcast on CBS. Other honorees are Merle Haggard, Jerry Herman, Paul McCartney and Oprah Winfrey.


* At the Stella Adler Studio of Acting’s fifth annual Harold Clurman Festival of Arts in September, Alexandra Wells, ballet teacher at The Juilliard School, received the MAD Spirit Award for her work as an artist and humanitarian.


* The Washington Performing Arts Society awarded the 2010 Pola Nirenska Award for Lifetime Achievement to Seda Khoyan Gelenian. In addition to performing with several Washington, DC–area dance companies, Gelenian taught creative dance for children at the Norwood School in Bethesda, MD, for 36 years.


Photo:Daniel Lewis (Jeffery A. Salter, courtesy of Daniel Lewis)

Layeelah Muhammad, courtesy DAYPC

This summer's outcry to fully see and celebrate Black lives was a wake-up call to dance organizations.

And while many dance education programs are newly inspired to incorporate social justice into their curriculums, four in the San Francisco Bay area have been elevating marginalized youth and focusing on social change for decades.

GIRLFLY, Grrrl Brigade, The Alphabet Rockers and Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company fuse dance with education around race, gender, climate change and more, empowering young artists to become leaders in their communities. Here's how they do it.

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Teacher Voices
Getty Images

I often teach ballet over Zoom in the evenings, shortly after sunset. Without the natural light coming from my living room window, I drag a table lamp next to my portable barre so that the computer's camera can see me clearly enough. I prop the laptop on a chair taken from the kitchen and then spend the next few hours running back and forth between the computer screen of Zoom tiles and my makeshift dance floor.

Much of this setup is the result of my attempts to recreate the most important aspects of an in-person dance studio: I have a barre, a floor and as much space as I can reasonably give myself within a small apartment. I do not, however, have a mirror, and neither do most of my students.

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Allie Burke, courtesy Lo Cascio

If you'd hear it on the radio, you won't hear it in Anthony Lo Cascio's tap classes.

"If I play a song that my kids know, I'm kind of disappointed in myself," he says. "I either want to be on the cutting edge or playing the classics."

He finds that most of today's trendy tracks lack the depth needed for tap, and that there's a disconnect between kids and popular music. "They have trouble finding the beat compared to older genres," he says.

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