The 2012 Dance Teacher Awards: Katie Glasner

It's 10 a.m. on a Friday at Barnard College in upper Manhattan, where the looming stress of finals week is the only obstacle separating students from summer break. One walks forward to teach a pirouette combination created for a ballet assignment. She looks anxious and timid, and for assistant chair of the dance department Katie Glasner, this will not do. “It's okay to be nervous, but this is a women's college!" declares the former Twyla Tharp dancer. “We stand up for ourselves and what we believe in."

Mottos like these run strong at Barnard, an all-women's private school affiliated with Columbia University, where Glasner has counseled countless students who teeter between studying dance and traditional academics. As someone who attended an arts conservatory (North Carolina School of the Arts) and college (University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee), and worked in concert dance (with Tharp from 1977 to 1987) and on Broadway (Singin' in the Rain), she knows the realities of professional life. It's why her classroom isn't just a technique lesson, but a place to discover how dance fits into an individual's goals. Glasner sees the potential in each student and feels that she deserves the highest level of training, regardless of whether that young woman will become a professional dancer, an arts historian or a patron.

One student who has benefited from Glasner's personal approach is Sydnie Mosley, a dance and Africana studies BA who graduated in 2007. “I'm not a ballet dancer, but Katie and I set goals. With her help I became fearless, even though I wasn't to the level of the other dancers in the room."

Today, Mosley choreographs and teaches dance at a high school in the Bronx. Glasner helped her through the unguided and always difficult transition between collegiate life and the working world. The two continue to keep in touch through e-mail and meetings, and Glasner weighs in on Mosley's choreography and frequents her performances. “Katie is more than a professor. She's an advisor, lecturer, mentor and friend. That's what any student could ever want."

Though she's helped shape many careers, Glasner is modest in crediting herself and instead raves about her students. “There's an old Chinese proverb that a teacher opens the door and the student walks through it. And that's my job—to give as much information as I can, and they will do with it as is relevant to them," she says. It's her students, colleagues and downright love of dance that keeps this educator going. “My mother once told me, 'You only get to keep what you give away,' and that never made sense to me until I started teaching."

Higher Ed
Charles Anderson (center) in his (Re)current Unrest. Photo by Kegan Marling, courtesy of UT Austin

Given the long history of American choreographers who have threaded activism into their work—Katherine Dunham, Pearl Primus, Donald McKayle, Joanna Haigood, Bill T. Jones, Jo Kreiter, to name a few—it's perhaps surprising that collegiate dance has offered so little in the way of training future generations to do the same.

Until now, that is. Within the last three years, two master's programs have cropped up, each the first of its kind: Ohio University's MA in community dance (new this fall), and the University of Texas at Austin's dance and social justice MFA, which emerged from its existing MFA program in 2018. These two programs join the University of San Francisco's undergraduate performing arts and social justice major, with a concentration in dance, which has been around since 2000.

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Teacher Voices
Getty Images

As many dance teachers begin another semester of virtual teaching, it is time to acknowledge the fact that virtual classes aren't actually accessible to all students.

When schools and studios launched their virtual dance programs at the beginning of the pandemic, many operated under the assumption that all their students would be able to take class online. But in reality, lack of access to technology and Wi-Fi is a major issue for many low-income students across the country, in many cases cutting them off from the classes and resources their peers can enjoy from home.

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Dance Teacher Awards

Who knew that a virtual awards ceremony could bring our community together in such a powerful way?

Last night, we celebrated the annual Dance Teacher Awards, held virtually for the first time. Though it was different from what we're used to, this new setting inspired us to get creative in celebrating our six extraordinary honorees. In fact, one of the most enlivening parts of the event was one that could only happen in a Zoom room: Watching as countless tributes, stories and congratulations poured in on the chat throughout the event. Seeing firsthand the impact our awardees have had on so many lives reminded us why we chose to honor them.

If you missed the Awards (or just want to relive them), you're in luck—they are now available to watch on-demand. We rounded up some of the highlights:

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