To Share With Students
Okwui Okpokwasili in her Bronx Gothic. Photo by Izzy Zimmerman, courtesy Okpokwasili

Historically, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) artists have often been erased from dance history.

Whether conscious or unconscious, this omission has created a cycle of not acknowledging, writing about or remembering the work of BIPOC artists, which often means dance history curriculums are taught as if these BIPOC artists never existed.

Many dance educators attempt to diversify their curriculums by including artists like Alvin Ailey, Arthur Mitchell and José Limón, which is a good starting point. But it is by no means comprehensive.


Often, this happens because educators themselves have only been taught about a few BIPOC dancers and artists—I know that much of my knowledge of dancers of color came from my own research outside of school.

Educate yourself about these eight artists of color past and present, mostly from the postmodern and dance theater genres, so you can educate your students about them. (And for a list of even more BIPOC artists to teach your students about, click here.) As teachers, we have the opportunity—and the responsibility—to stop the cycle of erasure and one-sided history to give our students a fuller understanding of dance history.

Bebe Miller (1950–today)

Bebe Miller interweaves dance, video, writing and other media to create postmodern work that interrogates the human condition. Miller's work pushes the boundaries of codified movement, incorporating gesture and pattern.

Blondell Cummings (1944–2015)

Experimental choreographer Blondell Cummings was best known for her work Chicken Soup, which is based on her childhood experiences in the kitchen with her grandmother. Cummings' work blends culture, history, identity and experimentation, seamlessly blending abstraction (a realm still today dominated by white artists) and the concept of "the personal is political," or speaking from one's personal experience as knowledge. Cummings also performed with postmodern legends Yvonne Rainer and Meredith Monk.

Gus Solomons jr (1938–today)

As a dancer, Gus Solomons jr has worked with everyone from Martha Graham to Merce Cunningham to Pearl Lang to Donald McKayle. With a background in architecture, Solomons was known, as a choreographer, for his ability to shape bodies in an analytical way. Now 82, Solomons continues to dance, and is also a teacher, a writer and an occasional puppeteer.

Miguel Gutierrez (1971–today)

Miguel Gutierrez is an experimental choreographer, writer and singer. Though his work often explores his Latin and queer identities, he's been outspoken about how abstraction shouldn't belong just to white artists.

Okwui Okpokwasili (1972–today)

Okwui Okpokwasili is a choreographer, performer and writer best known for her Bronx Gothic (which was profiled in a documentary of the same name) and Poor People's TV Room. Her raw, exposed style often focuses on the lives of women in the African diaspora, and incorporates nontraditional spaces, installations, writing and sound.

Paloma McGregor (1974–today)

Paloma McGregor is a Caribbean-born choreographer and arts organizer. Her work amplifies Black voices, stories and histories through dance and community organizing. She co-founded Angela's Pulse and is also the founder of Dancing While Black, both of which focus on community building, art making and uplifting the Black dance community. McGregor has also danced with Urban Bush Women and Liz Lerman.

Ralph Lemon (1952–today)

Ralph Lemon is a choreographer, dancer, director and writer who creates experimental dance and installation work. Lemon's cross-disciplinary performances intermingle visual art, sound, movement and text. One of his most famous works, How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere? includes film, science fiction and the intergenerational knowledge of a 102-year-old sharecropper.

Shen Wei (1968–today)

Shen Wei is a Chinese-American choreographer and painter, known for blending Asian traditional dance and Western contemporary dance, and for cleverly incorporating visual art into his work. Students may be familiar with one of Wei's most famous works: The opening ceremony at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

To Share With Students
Jill Randall

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!)

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Kaja Irwin, Sabrina Comanescu, Natasha Korney of Decidely Jazz Danceworks in Calgary. Vibecke Dahle, courtesy Dance on Camera Festival

Even dancers who love their isolations and hip rolls might be totally unaware of where jazz dance comes from.

Uprooted: The Journey of Jazz Dance, which premieres at the Dance on Camera Festival on Sunday, July 19, aims to change that. Directed by Khadifa Wong and produced by Lisa Donmall-Reeve, the feature-length documentary is a fascinating deep dive into the complex history and evolution of jazz dance. It features mesmerizing footage and boasts interviews from renowned experts like Chita Rivera, Debbie Allen and Andy Blankenbuehler.

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To Share With Students
Photo by Samantha Clink. Courtesy of BODYTRAFFIC

Tiare Keeno successfully straddles the worlds of concert and commercial dance. She began her training at one of the country's premier competition studios, Center Stage Performing Arts Studio in Orem, Utah, before eventually transitioning to a top-notch classical conservatory, Classical Ballet Academy. All the while, she kept a close relationship with the razzle-dazzle of conventions, attending many each year before joining Nevada Ballet Theatre in 2012. "I've always said I wanted to stay open and try new things," Keeno says. After graduating from The Juilliard School in 2016, she moved to Macau, China, to work on the creation of a new Cirque du Soleil show, and performed in Al Blackstone's Freddie Falls in Love at The Joyce Theater in 2019, before landing her current position with BODYTRAFFIC for the 2019–20 season.

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Getty Images

We're living in unprecedented times, and for many of us, that means unprecedented screen time. (So please cool it with your Screen Time notifications, Apple.)

For dancers used to moving their bodies and working collaboratively, social distancing at home can come with particular challenges—not to mention the fact that many dance artists are out of work and losing income.

We rounded up the best apps to make this difficult period a bit easier—whether you need a distraction, a workout, a meditation or some inspiration:

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