Whether you're still wrapping up holiday shopping for the dance lovers in your life or have that family member who keeps asking what you want this year, a unique, dancey gift is always a winner. Dance Teacher rounded up eight ideas for dancers of all ages—many of which serve the dual purpose of supporting the dance community during this difficult time. (Bonus: Many are just a few clicks away!)
Whether you're getting a head start on holiday shopping, seeking books to add to your curriculum or studio lobby, or entertaining a young dancer at home, 2020 has been a banner year for dance-focused children's books.
Dance Teacher rounded up six of the most exciting—from the origin story of ballet's biggest star to celebrations of boys dancing to breaking down dances from around the world. (Bonus: Several are available in audiobook and/or video form!)
Has the pandemic given you more time to do all that dance reading you've always dreamed of?
Enter these four new releases, each of note for its in-depth exploration of the art form and its engaging, artful storytelling.
Jill Randall<p>Edited by Megan Taylor Morrison</p><p>306 pages; MTM Coaching and Consulting (2020)</p><p><strong>Keywords: </strong>Travel, first-person accounts, curiosity, dance around the world</p><p><strong>Check it out if:</strong> You, too, have dreams of traveling the world to study dance, whether it is exploring your own cultural heritage or following a particular style to its origins. <em>Dance Adventures </em>offers stories from 19 dancers who traveled to 17 different countries, including Senegal, the Philippines, Cuba and China. The essays are relatively short in length and are highly accessible; <em>Dance Adventures </em>is a great option for dancers in high school, college and beyond.</p>
Jill Randall<p>By Wendy Perron</p><p>384 pages; Wesleyan University Press (2020)</p><p><strong>Keywords:</strong> Improvisation, postmodern dance, contact improv</p><p><strong>Check it out if:</strong> You are interested in improvisation, or any of the core members of Grand Union, such as Trisha Brown, Yvonne Rainer and Steve Paxton. Perron documents the formation of the group, highlighting each artist with great care and describing archival videos in detail. You'll hear from Grand Union members, their contemporaries and dancers influenced by the work of this group during its six-year existence.</p>
Moving Lessons: Margaret H'Doubler and the Beginning of Dance in American Education (Second Edition)<a href="https://bookshop.org/books/moving-lessons-margaret-h-doubler-and-the-beginning-of-dance-in-american-education/9780813068152" target="_blank"><img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDY1NzA0NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3MDI0NDE3Mn0.dn3DB0vd6mk4Q7ES3sETS2Lw_Rglv2MpVK3YGcFQdiQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="2ca27" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8cc6d70afce7215c508dd634eb6eaefe" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="The cover of Moving Lessons, featuring a black and white photo of a woman dancing outside with a large hula hoop-type prop" data-width="900" data-height="1146" /></a>
Jill Randall<p>By Janice L. Ross</p><p>328 pages; University Press of Florida (2020)</p><p><strong>Keywords:</strong> Dance in higher education, first dance-degree program in the U.S., skeleton and anatomy as foundation, John Dewey's philosophy</p><p><strong>Check it out if:</strong> You teach in higher ed or aspire to be a college professor, or are curious about the lineage of dance from physical education. Ross' second edition deepens our knowledge of Margaret H'Doubler, who founded the first dance-degree program in the U.S. in 1926 at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Ross also explores the influence of educational philosopher John Dewey on H'Doubler's pedagogy, as well as her use of a skeleton as a core component in her classes.</p>
Jill Randall<p>By Donna H. Krasnow and Daniel E. Lewis</p><p>239 pages; McFarland (2020)</p><p><strong>Keywords: </strong>José Limón, Juilliard, New World School of the Arts, long dance career</p><p><strong>Check it out if:</strong> You are a Limón Company fan or modern dance history buff who loves a journey through the life of an artist. Krasnow recounts Lewis' career over many decades, which included time as a student and then a faculty member at Juilliard, touring the world with José Limón and then setting Limón's work, directing his own company, and becoming the first dean of dance at the New World School of the Arts. Notes and quotes from colleagues are woven throughout the book.</p>
After nearly six months of experimenting with Zoom teaching, many dance teachers are now feeling more comfortable with the platform. As the fall semester begins (and with much of it still happening virtually), now's the time to make sure you're taking advantage of all that Zoom has to offer to enhance your teaching.
One useful aspect of the platform you may not be utilizing to the fullest: the chat function, which can add a valuable layer of dialogue and engagement with your students.
"I am finding the chat to be a great connector to the entire class," says Wendy Jones, a dance teacher at Lowell High School in San Francisco, California. "At the beginning of class, questions are a great help and can create a 'new' ritual for entering the dance space."
Especially with large classes, posing questions in the chat function can keep everyone active and ensure everyone's voice is heard when there isn't time for a real discussion or to call on students one at a time.
Keep in mind: Moderating the chat will need to be an intentional part of your lesson plans. (Though it's helpful to note that, as the host, you'll be able to read the entire chat conversation after the fact.) Be sure to make decisions about whether you'd like the whole class to be able to see responses, or just you as the teacher, and whether you'll use these questions as quick activities or as a spark for a larger discussion or project.
Use the questions below to serve as icebreakers, check-ins, journal activities or "exit tickets" for the day:
Beginning of class:
Use these questions to inspire focus and commitment as students enter the virtual space.
-What is your focus for today?
-How does your body feel today?
-What do you want to get out of today's class?
Anytime during class:
Use these questions to take students out of autopilot and offer a moment of reflection, articulation and connection.
-What are you focusing on while executing this phrase?
-What questions do you have about the phrase or step?
-At this moment in class, how are you connecting with your personal goal for today?
At the end of class:
These questions ask that students think critically about what they've experienced during class.
-What was the most challenging exercise for you, and why?
-What combination did you most enjoy, and why?
-What was a moment of joy or levity for you?
-What is a correction or piece of feedback you want to bring forward into your next class?
-What would you like me (the teacher) to repeat again next time?
Shamel Pitts, New York City–based founder of the performance collective TRIBE, is one of three dance artists awarded Guggenheim Fellowships for 2020. Born and raised in Brooklyn and a graduate of LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, The Ailey School and The Juilliard School, Pitts received the Princess Grace Award in choreography in 2018 and danced with Batsheva for seven years. He spoke with DT this summer during shelter-in-place.
What was it like receiving the Guggenheim? What will the award support this year?<p>I was finishing a performance tour at the Adelaide Festival in Australia when I got the news. A hugely surprising acceptance. It was around 3:33 am, and I was online at the airport.</p><p>Since the public announcement (on April 8), the world has changed hugely. This award propels me forward at a time when I am asked to stay at home. I am thinking about how to continue to work as an artist, an African-American artist and a citizen during this time.</p><p>It does help to receive awards where people and institutions say, "We see you. We believe in you. Keep going. And keep finding new and creative ways to keep going." At this moment, I am digging into the intersection between solitude, creativity and solidarity.</p>
What is the intersection of choreographing and teaching for you?<p>When I am creating a work, I am teaching. When I am dancing in a work, it is a teachable moment. I am continually trying to find new ways of engaging people and what it means to teach. The more that I can sustain myself as a student of teaching, the more pronounced my choreographic voice and purpose becomes. What comes out through clarity of research and coherent instruction helps me find out what the moment is asking for. One of the most meaningful ways to learn and to lead truly is to teach.</p>
You are one of a select roster of certified Gaga teachers in the world. What do you love about Gaga?<p>Ohad Naharin has said that Gaga asks you to listen to your body before you tell it what to do. It is so multilayered to teach Gaga, and I love that. It is a complex, fascinating, invigorating, stimulating and challenging experience. You are constantly teacher and student. You are always moving with others, and at the same time you are listening to what is coming out of your body and out of their bodies to facilitate a clarity of instruction and research.</p>
Fall may be fast-approaching, but it's never too late to slip in a little summer reading—especially if it'll make you all the more prepared for the perhaps crazier-than-usual season ahead.
Here are six new releases to enrich your coming school year:
A Teaching Artist's Companion: How to Define and Develop Your Practice, by Daniel Levy<p>Reflective as well as practical, Levy shares his 30 years as a teaching artist in this dense volume that explores the intersection of our work and our identities as artists and educators. He frames teaching through the words "view" (our viewpoint, what we believe teaching can offer), "design" (how we craft our lessons and units) and "respond" (reflecting on what actually happens in the classroom and reflecting on artwork with our students). The final chapter offers key information about teaching-artist pay and frameworks from arts education programs around the country.<br></p>
Middle School Matters, by Phyllis L. Fagell<p>Fagell is a middle school counselor; she really gets working with kids and talking with parents. For dance educators, this book is a valuable exploration into the world of middle school children—their priorities, their fears and the ways that we as adults in their lives can create safe environments in dance classes for risk-taking, group work and creative expression.<br></p>
How to Land: Finding Ground in an Unstable World, by Ann Cooper Albright<p>As we navigate this time of pandemic and racism, Ann Cooper Albright's book is a guide for placing our dance work into the larger context of meaning-making and healing. Essays by the Oberlin College professor introduce the idea of movement concepts as metaphor for what we're experiencing in our everyday lives: falling, disorientation, suspension, gravity, resilience and connection.<br></p>
The New Adolescence, by Christine Carter<p>As a parent, author and senior fellow at the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, Carter brings a wealth of experience and research to the topic of adolescence. She unpacks the life of Gen Z adolescents and how we can offer support and structures, and watch out for anxiety and depression, plus foster face-to-face real-time experiences. In an age of constant stimulation and external validation, the dance class setting can offer focus, embodiment and internal understanding.<br></p>
Perspectives on American Dance, edited by Jennifer Atkins, Sally R. Sommer and Tricia Henry Young<p>Originally published in 2018 and now in paperback, this two-volume set is the first anthology on dance in the U.S. in nearly 25 years. Edited by three Florida State University dance professors, book one, <em>The Twentieth Century,</em> contains 13 essays spotlighting a variety of dance styles, artists, concert dance and dance on film. Book two—<em>The New Millennium</em>—captures dance in all of its forms, whether live or on the internet, from pole dancing to flash mobs to sports victory dances.<br></p>
A Revolution in Movement: Dancers, Painters, and the Image of Modern Mexico, by K. Mitchell Snow<p>A deep dive into the dance and visual art worlds of Mexico from the 1920s through the 1960s, this book explores ballet, modern and folk forms in post-revolution Mexico. The author details the shaping of a national identity through dance and highlights collaborations between artists like Diego Rivera and dancers of this time period.<br></p>
It can be tricky to get away for a conference, whether due to travel budget concerns or finding a substitute to cover your absence. One silver lining of the pandemic is that five conferences are now available online, no travel necessary. You'll find sessions to address your concerns no matter what your role in the dance community—whether you're on the business side, interested in curriculum development, need continuing ed certification, or a performer who wants to teach. Why not gather colleagues from your studio or school for an educational watch party to inspire you as you launch into the new school year?
First Annual UNITY Leadership Conference<div class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4bf04bacabfe651950dd556c15064b57"><div class="fb-video" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=689290501866508" data-allowfullscreen="true"></div></div><p>August 8–9; $125</p><p>UNITY promotes cooperation among dance organizations and addresses certification and standards for dance education. This inaugural leadership conference offers 13 sessions that cover both teaching and management topics. You'll hear from industry leaders such as Rhee Gold and Susan McGreevy-Nichols—plus a <em>Dance Teacher</em> session featuring Gina Gibney. All videos and materials will be available for 60 days after the conference.</p><p>Two sessions of note:</p><ul><li>"Encouraging a More Diverse Membership" (LaShonda Chaney and Janine Hart)</li><li>"Thinking Big as a Dance Studio Owner" (Karen Hildebrand talks with Gina Gibney)</li></ul><p><a href="https://unitydanceorg.square.site/" target="_blank">Register here</a></p>
ConQuest, a Virtual Conference for Dance Professionals<div id="30deb" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a266531de4aef83d4eda46182e3346e5"><blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-version="4" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;"> </div></div><p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"> <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CDgzT_SjCyP/" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_top">Login • Instagram</a></p> </div></blockquote></div><p>August 14–16; free</p><p>Geared to dance studio owners and other professionals who work in the studio space, this conference was designed specifically for distance learning and includes workshops, panels, roundtable sessions, master classes and a special program for dancers under 18. Plus, <em>Dance Teacher</em> will be hosting a workshop on "Dismantling Racism in the Dance Studio and Beyond."</p><p>Two sessions of note:</p><ul><li>"Why I Trashed the Trophies: How to Make Meaningful Disruption in Your Dance Studio" (Chasta Hamilton)</li><li>"Parent Solutions: How to Take the Complaints of Your Clients and Turn Them Into Gold" (Kerrin Michaels)</li></ul><p><a href="https://conquestregistration.com/events/conquest/" target="_blank">Register here</a></p>
Dance Educators Training Institute (DETI)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="23912f932649edc361714c4b7273d95c"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/9vfllkCt7MM?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>August 17–19; $100</p><p>Co-presented by ClancyWorks Dance Company and Baltimore County Public Schools, DETI offers four workshops on each of the three days, with topics such as teaching online, racial equity, somatics, composition and technique.</p><p>Two sessions of note:</p><ul><li>"Building Racial Equity: Creating Space for Productive Conversations About Race" (Rajeeyah Finnie-Myers of Race Forward)</li><li>"Managing Your Virtual Classroom: Netiquette" (Stephanie Crockett of Baltimore County Public Schools and Darryl Pilate of Prince George's County Public Schools)</li></ul><div><a href="https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSedaTFPFgKEyPu6UEd1sFWM0XMZo2PPEsU6XWqxiTLM7mooyQ/viewform" target="_blank">Register here</a></div>
5th Annual International Teaching Artists Conference (ITAC5)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7fe5b57f9fb030dffc4549d6c00c56c1"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/eh-49hlj2DM?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>September 14–17; $200 ($50 options for artists impacted by COVID-19 pandemic)</p><p>Teaching artists from 19 countries will present a fascinating array of topics in more than 40 sessions. Each day has a theme: Tuesday: Unlearning; Wednesday: Local & Nomadic Practices; Thursday: Peace & Reconciliation.</p><p>Two sessions of note:</p><ul><li>"Creative Unlearning: Embracing Ambiguity" (Dana L. Squires)</li><li>"Teaching Chinese Dance in a Global Community—Practices and Challenges" (Ling Tang)</li></ul><p><a href="https://itac5conference.org/ticketing/#/ticket" target="_blank">Register here</a></p>
National Dance Education Organization (NDEO)<div id="45fb7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8432b9507dc7c3793044adc939d8c518"><blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-version="4" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;"> </div></div><p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"> <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CCd6PgVnQ1g/" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_top">Login • Instagram</a></p> </div></blockquote></div><p>October 23–25; $50–$195</p><p>NDEO hosts one of the largest annual dance education conferences in the U.S. This year's theme is "Dance and Society: Developing Community, Empathy, and Understanding through Dance." Details of the conference program to be announced soon.</p><p><a href="https://www.ndeo.org/content.aspx?page_id=4002&club_id=893257&item_id=1240481" target="_blank">Register here</a></p>
A New Hampshire resident since 2006, Amanda Whitworth is the director of dance at Plymouth State University and the co-founder of ARTICINE, a nonprofit that uses the performing and creative arts as a means to improve people's health. Whitworth is also the founder of Lead With Arts, a consulting service working in three priority areas: performance and production, arts and health, and creative placemaking. The NH State Council on the Arts recommended her to the governor for a two-year term, February 2020 to February 2022. She is the first dancer in New Hampshire to hold the title of artist laureate. We caught up with her to hear about her new role: