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

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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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, 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
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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.

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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