Teachers Trending
Photo by Yvonne M. Portra, courtesy Faulkner

It's a Wednesday in May, and 14 Stanford University advanced modern ­dance students are logged on to Zoom, each practicing a socially distanced duet with an imaginary person. "Think about the quality of their personality and the type of duet you might have," says their instructor Katie Faulkner, "but also their surface area and how you'd relate to them in space." Amid dorm rooms, living rooms, dining rooms and backyards, the dancers make do with cramped quarters and dodge furniture as they twist, curve, stretch and intertwine with their imaginary partners.

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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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Dance Teacher Awards
Courtesy Dye

Missed the 2020 Dance Teacher Awards? Watch them on-demand here.

If you were to walk into Patricia Dye's dance class, you might notice something unusual: the high number of young men dancing.

"Where I come from, men danced. My first teachers were men," she says. "To motivate and inspire men to dance, I show them the cultural relevance of dancing."

Almost 70 percent of the student body at Science Skills Center High School for Science Technology & the Creative Arts in downtown Brooklyn is Black, and more than half is male. With a curriculum rooted in the African diaspora, Dye, born in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, gets her students excited about dance by drawing connections to their cultural heritage. "Dances from the continent and dances from the Caribbean give them meaning," she says. "I also brought in Dr. Chuck Davis. They were hypnotized!"

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Teaching Tips
Getty Images

Though this school year comes with uncertainty due to the pandemic, and classes may be online where you are, it still holds true that how a teacher conducts class at the start of September can set the tone for the entire year. Taking the first few classes to establish expectations and break the ice can mean the difference between a harmonious classroom and total chaos. Here are eight ways to put your best foot forward.

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Studio Owners
Outdoor class at Lake Tahoe Dance Collective. Photo by Scott Rokis, courtesy of LTDC

With restrictions on large gatherings still in place in many parts of the country, finding a way to keep classes running is very much at the top of studio owners' minds. While hundreds have taken to online platforms like Zoom to stay in business during the pandemic, some are finding that as social distancing guidelines gradually lift, there's another way to keep dancers engaged: outdoor dance classes.

Gathering outside in a small group to dance can be tricky, but these studio owners are finding that the boost in morale at their schools is well worth the effort. Here, they share how they set up their COVID-compliant outdoor dance classes this summer.

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Technique
Christopher Lam and Aria Gerking. Photo by Christian Peacock

In a spacious upstairs room in his San Francisco home, ballet teacher Christopher Lam gently holds on to an ironing board as he pliés, tendus and dégagés in his socks on the wood floor. He is leading students in a virtual ballet class on Zoom in light of the San Francisco Bay Area's shelter-in-place order that has closed the doors of every dance studio where Lam normally teaches. After a particularly speedy and challenging frappé exercise with fondus, he steps up to the camera and says, laughing, "Dancers, I think that one was a bit ambitious for home—juggling the slippery floor and ironing board."

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News
University of Houston dance students outdoors in 2019. Photo courtesy of UH

Since March, hundreds of dance majors have been using platforms like Zoom to continue their educations, dancing from the safety of their homes as coronavirus has swept the nation. What many educators initially hoped would be a temporary setback—a few weeks of online learning before a triumphant return to in-person classes—has turned out to be a new way of life, with distance learning essential well into the summer.

As department heads look toward the fall term, the decision of how and when to return to dancing together is at the forefront of their minds. Here, three dance department heads share how they're approaching the decision.

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Teaching Tips
Janie Carothers (center). Courtesy of Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts

Few life transitions are as radical as going from high school to college. For many students, it's the first time they're living on their own and navigating new-found independence, and the new environment can be incredibly daunting.

But when high school teachers make college preparation a priority, students can move on confidently. Here, three high school dance teachers at different types of schools give their best advice for helping students make a smooth college transition.

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