Letter from the Editor: On Preserving and Protecting the Legacy of Dance
May 2, 2022

Dear DT+ Community, 

Among the many joys we experience as dance educators, it’s the ability to instill in our students a deeper meaning and appreciation for the art form, that is perhaps most fulfilling.

That’s why I’m so excited for you to read this month’s feature on how master hula teachers known as “Kumu Hula” are preserving and protecting the time-honored tradition and legacy of hula for the next generation. Writer April Deocariza explores how tourism and social media have led to the misappropriation and commercialization of Hawaii’s state dance that has long needed to be rectified, and shares promising news about the recent ratification of the Huamakahikina Declaration and Hawaiian lawmakers’ support of the resolution to protect the art form’s integrity.

You’ll also be inspired by the profile of Balasaraswati—an exponent of pure bharatanatyam who remained true to the ancient form and was one of the first to expand it to Western audiences. Find out how Balasaraswati’s traditional performances helped prove the historic and artistic value of bharatanatyam to gain its respect and recognition worldwide.

While it’s an honor for us to continue paying tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched dance history, we’re also delighted to spotlight today’s AAPI artists and educators who are instrumental to its future success. 

Later this month, you’ll hear from former Martha Graham Dance Company principal, PeiJu Chien-Pott, who teaches the Graham technique at the Alvin Ailey School and is Director of Contemporary/Creative Dance at Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company; Noelani Pantastico, who talks about her new role at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (after having retired from Pacific Northwest Ballet); and Oregon Ballet Theatre’s Priyana Acharya, who expresses gratitude to her mentor, Erica Lynette Edwards. You’ll also discover why, for dancer and choreographer Bo Park, musicality isn’t about hitting every beat.

Recital season is also upon us, and if you’re looking for ways to get your students recital-ready, we have plenty of insights in our Technique & Artistry column to help you learn the nitty-gritty of cleaning choreography, manage swift costume changes and commit to staying fueled (physically and mentally) during recital season. 

Also, in celebration of National Tap Dance Day (May 25), we’re bringing you professional advice on how to help your students master wings in tap (and not just “wing it).” While the wing is an impressive step, it can be challenging for students because of its complex technique and coordination.

Mother’s Day is around the corner, too, and lately, I’ve been wondering about how many dance teachers who are doubling as parents there are in our community. There’s no doubt that teaching and parenting, while incredibly rewarding, are difficult enough on their own. But when combined, they present a new set of challenges and responsibilities that could affect the dynamics of your classroom and home life. So how do you balance being an effective teacher, especially when it comes to teaching your own child? Later this month, you’ll get some guidance from “dance parent-teachers” who have navigated these roles successfully and made the process manageable and enjoyable.

Plus, in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month and Arthritis Awareness Month, we’re putting the spotlight on teachers’ mental health and physical (specifically joint) health. You’ll learn more about osteoarthritis and get some expert advice on dealing with the pain during a long day of teaching and get professional advice on creating your own protective mental health regime. 

I hope you’ll enjoy reading all these stories on DanceTeacher+. If you have suggestions for what you’d like to see featured in the coming months, please drop me a line at [email protected]. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Best wishes,
Reanne Rodrigues

P.S. Dance Teacher would love your valuable insights on professional development to inform its advancement of training opportunities for dance educators. To take our five-minute survey before 11:59 pm ET on Tuesday, May 3, click here. You’ll be entered to win one of five gift cards worth $100 each. Thank you in advance for your time!

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