Role Models

Ailey II dancers Lloyd A. Boyd III, Jacob Lewis, Terri Ayanna Wright and Deidre Rogan get a selfie with Robert Battle at our cover shoot.

There were many things we could have discussed with Robert Battle, whom we honor this month with the Dance Teacher Lifetime Achievement Award. For instance, there is the charming tale about the boy who wore leg braces and grew up to lead Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. (There's a children's book out about this: My Story, My Dance: Robert Battle's Journey to Alvin Ailey by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome, with foreword by Robert Battle.) There is also his artistic vision, both in terms of the AAADT rep and his own choreography. (The New York Times and Dance Magazine both have plenty to say about that.) But when Battle started telling anecdotes about his formative teachers, he confirmed our selection of him in a particularly gratifying way.

I know you're going to enjoy what he has to say about Carolyn Adams, Gerri Houlihan and Kazuko Hirabayashi, as well as the teaching profession at large: “There's something to me about teaching that is beyond noble," he told me in our phone interview. “It is, I think, the lifeblood of society. Anybody I admire will always talk about a teacher in their lives in some way: Alvin Ailey, Lester Horton and on and on. So this is a very personal thing, this honor, because of that." And the headline of our cover feature, “Rainbow After the Rain," comes directly from something Battle says in the story.

We're also proud to announce the four educators who will receive the Dance Teacher Awards at our New York Dance Teacher Summit at the end of this month. Read the compelling stories of Joanne Chapman, Kathleen Isaac, Claudio Muñoz and Pamela VanGilder.

In this issue you'll also find the new and updated “Dance Annual Directory," with contact information for the products and services you'll need during the coming year. You can keep it handy in print or refer to it online at DanceMedia.com.

Photo by Jim Lafferty

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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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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.

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