The Healing Power of Dance

When I met Tammy DePascal last summer at the Dance Teacher Summit, I knew we had to tell her story in the magazine. She offered her Force Friends class as a model for teaching dance to special-needs children. She herself has a daughter with special needs, so her perspective is unique. "Force Friends" details of the sensitive approach that is surprisingly popular with all the dancers at Creative Force Dance Center in Baltimore.

Likewise, the account of how Martha Eddy designed her Moving For Life class to help with a range of issues experienced by women with breast cancer is hugely inspiring (“Dancing to Heal”). Dr. Eddy is part of a growing trend: dance educators who use their knowledge of kinesiology and anatomy to work with people who might not otherwise set foot on a ballet barre.

March is our annual Health and Wellness issue. To lead off DT Notes, we report on All That Dance in Seattle, where for a full week every year, faculty and students devote their attention to body image and acceptance of self and others. Started in 2005, Love Your Body Week has become an annual tradition that influences the dancers year-round.

These stories are examples of the many ways dance educators make an impact far beyond the dance studio. Whether training artists, helping children develop life skills or easing the effects of mental and physical disease, dance teachers can and do change the world every day. It’s an honor to serve this inspiring population with Dance Teacher. If you don’t already, I hope you’ll connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest and join the remarkable conversation.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

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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Rambert artistic director Benoit Swan Pouffer had input on the new Rambert Grades curriculum. Photo by Camilla Greenwell, Courtesy Rambert

British dance company and school Rambert has launched a new contemporary-dance training syllabus. Rambert Grades is intended to set a benchmark in contemporary-dance training, focused on three strands: performance, technique and creativity. Moving beyond the Graham and Cunningham techniques that form the basis of most modern-dance training in the UK, it includes contributions from current high-profile choreographers Hofesh Shechter, Alesandra Seutin and Rambert artistic director Benoit Swan Pouffer.

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For Parents
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As studios in many areas begin to open up with safety protocols in place, dance students are, of course, itching to get back into class. But just because dancers can go back to in-person training doesn't mean all families are ready for their children to actually do so.

As a parent, it's understandable to feel caught between a rock (your dancer's will to attend in-person class) and a hard place (your concerns surrounding COVID-19). Yet no matter how many tears are shed or how much bargaining your dancer tries, the bottom line is that when it comes to issues of health and safety, you—the parent—have the final say.

Still, there may be ways to soften the blow, as well as best practices for setting or amending expectations. We asked Danielle Zar, a child and adolescent psychotherapist who specializes in parent education, to share some tips for this tricky situation.

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