News: National Dance Week Expands Its Reach

National Dance Week is April 22 through May 1, and there’s no better time to plan an event or activity to share dance with your community and expand your enrollment. Need an idea? NDW’s website is chock full of them, from games for class to celebratory performances. And this year, NDW is actively encouraging participation from K–12 teachers with a downloadable curriculum.

 

Created especially for NDW by Anneliese Burns, director of ABC For Dance, curriculums will be available for free from the NDW website. They are divided by grade (kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th–8th and 9th–12th) and by subject (including PE, math, social studies and science). Second-graders, for example, can learn the power of punctuation by acting out sentences that end in a period or an exclamation point. And in math class, repeating a movement sequence teaches them about patterns. Older grades (5–8 and 9–12) also have swing, modern and ballet curriculums.

 

“We want dance to inspire more than just those in the dance community, and we would love for any teacher to use these curriculums even for one day to celebrate National Dance Week,” says NDW associate director Cathy Graziano. “We really want to expose as many people as possible to the enjoyment and benefits of dance.” Info: www.nationaldanceweek.org

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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Teaching Tips
Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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