From left: Wendy Whelan, photo by Erin Baiano, courtesy NYCB; Deborah Damast, photo by Jaqlin Medlock, courtesy Teachers College, Columbia University; Stephanie and Bo Spassoff, photo by Tiffany Yoon, courtesy The Rock School; Kim Black, photo courtesy Black; Patricia Dye, photo courtesy Dye

You’re Invited to the 2020 Dance Teacher Awards!

The Dance Teacher Awards are here, and this year we're going virtual. The upside of a virtual awards ceremony? We can invite all of you!

Though we'll be in a new setting (Zoom!), the purpose of the Dance Teacher Awards remains the same: celebrating outstanding educators for their contributions to our field.


This year, we'll be honoring six extraordinary teachers: Stephanie and Bo Spassoff, who have shaped The Rock School with kindness and compassion into one of the country's top ballet schools; Patricia Dye, a beloved high school teacher in Brooklyn who teaches life and leadership skills alongside dance; Deborah Damast, who leads the next generation of dance educators at NYU Steinhardt; Kim Black, who has found her calling nurturing Burlington, North Carolina's tiniest dancers; and, finally, the inimitable Wendy Whelan, who will be receiving our Award of Distinction.

Whelan, in her typical spirit of generosity, will be giving all attendees a special treat: a mini class focused on what she learned from the teachers who shaped her—including the late, great Willy Burmann. You'll also have a chance to ask Whelan about her multifaceted career as a dancer, a collaborator, a teacher and, now, associate artistic director of New York City Ballet, in an intimate Q&A.

And, for the first time this year, we'll be raising money for a cause that's close to our hearts. All proceeds from tickets sold (only 20 dollars!) will fund the new Dance Teacher Scholarship at MOVE|NYC|, which will be going to the talented rising high school senior Kelsey Lewis. (You can read more about MOVE|NYC|'s incredible mission in our May/June cover story!)

The 2020 Dance Teacher Awards will take place on Zoom on September 16 at 6 pm ET. Get tickets here—we can't wait to see you there!

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Stark Photo Productions, Courtesy Harlequin

Why Your Barre Can Make or Break Your At-Home Dance Training

Throughout the pandemic, Shelby Williams, of Royal Ballet of Flanders (aka "Biscuit Ballerina"), has been sharing videos that capture the pitfalls of dancers working from home: slipping on linoleum, kicking over lamps and even taking windows apart at the "barre." "Dancers aren't known to be graceful all of the time," says Mandy Blackmon, PT, DPT, OSC, CMTPT, head physical therapist/medical director for Atlanta Ballet. "They tend to fall and trip."

Many dancers have tried to make their home spaces as safe as possible for class and rehearsal by setting up a piece of marley, like Harlequin's Dance Mat, to work on. But there's another element needed for taking thorough ballet classes at home: a portable barre.

"Using a barre is kinda Ballet 101," says 16-year-old Haley Dale, a student in her second year at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She'd bought a portable barre from Harlequin to use at her parents' home in Northern Virginia even before the pandemic hit. "Before I got it, honestly I would stay away from doing barre work at home. Now I'm able to do it all the time."

Blackmon bought her 15-year-old stepdaughter a freestanding Professional Series Ballet Barre from Harlequin early on in quarantine. "I was worried about her injuring herself without one," she admits.

What exactly makes Harlequin's barres an at-home must-have, and hanging on to a chair or countertop so risky? Here are five major differences dancers will notice right away.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
December 2020