Teaching Tips
Jill Randall

Whether you're in need of some wintertime inspiration or searching for new material for your classes, these six titles—ranging from personal stories, classroom materials, detailed essays and coursebooks—are worthy picks to add to your pedagogy bookshelf.

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News
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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!)

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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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News
Jill Randall

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.

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Teaching Tips
A recent Dance Media Live! Zoom class

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?

News
Scott Shaw Photography, courtesy Pitts

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?

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.

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.

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.

What is the intersection of choreographing and teaching for you?

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.

You are one of a select roster of certified Gaga teachers in the world. What do you love about Gaga?

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.

Teaching Tips
Courtesy Jill Randall

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:

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News
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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?

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