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Dance Students Deserve to Be Safe

At least once a month or so a local news story pops up in my Google alerts about a dance teacher accused of sexually abusing one (or more) of their students. The frequency never numbs the sinking feeling I get when I read these accounts. Particularly since I realize that the same thing is likely happening in other dance studios, but being kept out of the press.

For too long, sexual violence in the dance world has been a shameful open secret. Everyone in the industry knows it's a problem. But what can actually be done to solve it?

When MOVE|NYC| co-founder Chanel DaSilva reached out to us last fall wanting to share her own story, we decided that it was Dance Magazine's time to dive into this topic in a real way. What is it about the power dynamics and culture of dance education that allows this to happen? What are concrete steps we can take to better protect students? In collaboration with our colleagues at Dance Teacher, we gave DaSilva a platform to talk about her experiences and present a call to action, and reached out to a variety of experts in dance, education and psychology to brainstorm how we can create safer environments, empower survivors and their allies, and rid our field of predators.

As DaSilva states in her essay, "It shouldn't take another class-action lawsuit for dance education to take this seriously." Our students deserve better.

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Courtesy Hong Kong Dance Company

Here’s What Happened When Hong Kong Dance Company Trained Its Dancers in Martial Arts

When dancers here in the U.S. think about martial arts, what might come to mind is super-slow and controlled tai chi, or Hollywood's explosive kung fu fight scenes featuring the likes of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Martial arts in real life can be anywhere and anything in between, as the Hong Kong Dance Company recently learned. A few months ago, the company wrapped up its ambitious three-year embodied research study into the convergences between martial arts and classical Chinese dance. Far from a niche case-study, HKDC's qualitative findings could have implications for dancers from around the world who are practicing in all styles of dance.

Hong Kong Researcher/dancer Huang Lei performing in "Convergence"Courtesy Hong Kong Dance Company

February 2021