Essential Viewing: “WE. DANCE.”, a Powerful Video by Ailey’s Dancers

"When our hearts break, WE Dance."

That's the caption for the video above, created by and featuring dancers from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Made in the midst of widespread protests over the death of George Floyd and so many other innocent Black people, it features poetic text written and performed by company member Hope Boykin, and moving, meditative dance footage from 25 other Ailey performers.


Here are the dancers featured, in order of appearance:

Hope Boykin, @hbdance
Yannick Lebrun, @yannicklebrun
Akua Noni Parker, @onlyupward
James Gilmer, @j_gilmer
Jacquelin Harris
Brandon Woolridge, @brandon_michael_woolridge
Samantha Figgins, @sfigg_udigg
Sarah Daley-Perdomo, @cherrysunblush
Jeroboam Bozeman, @jeroboamb
Jacqueline Green, @jagreen711
Jessica Amber Pinkett, @jessica.a.pinkett
Jermaine Terry, @jerms83
Jamar Roberts, @7jlr27
Constance Stamatiou, @constance.stamatiou
Belén Indhira Pereyra, @belen_pereyra_pro
Renaldo Maurice, @r_maurice25
Courtney Celeste Spears, @bahamaballerina
Christopher R. Wilson, @christopher.r.wilson
Vernard J. Gilmore, @vern93
Kanji Segawa
Clifton Brown
Miranda Quinn, @mirandaming4
Patrick Coker, @pcoke
Chalvar Monteiro, @chlvrmntro
Matthew Rushing, @matthewrushing73
Danica Paulos, @lens_of_the_heart

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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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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Teaching Tips
Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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