Students in class at Mark Morris Dance Center. Prince Lang, Courtesy Mark Morris Dance Group.

Recently, I asked fellow dancers on Facebook for a one-word self-assessment of the first class they ever taught. "Chaotic," "humbling" and "copycat" were just some of their responses. I was not surprised.

For my first-ever class, intermediate ballet for my fellow college students in 2011, I was armed with little more than my own experiences as a student. I certainly wasn't prepared for all the needs competing for my attention, nor equipped with strategies to differentiate my teaching approach for each student's learning style. I must have missed that day in technique class.

There is a pervasive idea that if you are a great dancer, you are automatically qualified to teach, whether you have training or experience in education practices or not. There is also an assumption that training to be a dance educator is only valuable if you're working with children—that you don't need it when teaching anyone over the age of 16.

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Teacher Voices
An alumna of Dance Spectrum in Buffalo (now a nurse in Boston) joins a Zoom class led by her favorite instructor in the hospital break room. Photo courtesy of Dance Spectrum

All that I have ever thought our dance community could be, we have become as we have faced the COVID-19 crisis. Thousands of studio owners and dance teachers are carrying on in any way they can. Kids are continuing to dance—even if it's in their living rooms in front of the TV. Our community has not stopped dancing or spreading the joy that it brings to all.

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Teacher Voices
The author teaching at home. Photo courtesy of Rosner

I think it is important to address the elephant in the room.

In less than one week, the dance community was on board with teaching online, as if it was something they always did—as if it was normal.

But have we taken a moment to consider how it is affecting our students—and ourselves?

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