Dance in the Time of COVID

Well hello there, social isolators!

Whether you were already an introvert by choice or whether you’ve been forced to become one by government mandate, we’ve all been through some radical transitions to our life and livelihood over the last few weeks. I really hope that wherever you are you are safe, that you have some form of income, that you are able to quarantine, and that you are able to remain in contact with your friends and loved ones.

A few notes for the duration of isolation:

  • I am very lucky in that I am part of a two-income household. We are both working from home, we are both being paid, we are fine.
  • Because of this I am really going to restrict the kinds of content I produce, and I am not going to monetize this blog. If I produce free content, people will use it instead of paying the people who really do need the money.
  • That said, if you ARE enjoying the blog, or if you have ever used any of my resources for teaching etc. and you are financially secure then PLEASE consider giving money to a local food bank, mutual aid fund, or unemployed freelancer. Pay for a remote dance class. Do something to support those around you whose lives are precarious as a result of this crisis.
  • If you are a freelance dance artist and you would like me to feature you and share what you’re doing with my readers, fill out the contact form and send it my way.

And now, the post:

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A, E, I, Ow! You… The Vowels of Disagreement

It’s February, the weather is lousy, and we’re in the democratic primary season. It’s the season to be grouchy, exhausted, and frustrated with everyone around you. It’s the season to have fights, or, if you are English… disagreements.

Whether it’s that one student in classes, or your colleague, or your cousin’s republican friend on the social medias, it’s very easy right now to get ticked off and discombobulated with other people’s thoughts, actions, and attitudes.

In previous posts I’ve talked about having conversations across disagreement, and about building empathy with others. But before you can get to a place of even having the conversation, you need to be able to bring up problems in a professional manner, in a way that won’t shut down or unduly hurt the person you’re talking to. Yes, sometimes you’ll be in a situation where you want to shut someone down, but the advice in this blog post is geared towards professional settings and people you want to continue interacting with.

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Professional Kindness

Oh the beginning of the semester. New students, new classes, new responsibilities. A million projects with conflicting due dates, no time to get any of them done, and it’s only Tuesday.

Academia. I love it.

Except, really, I actually love it.

…Sorry…

But.

One of the reasons I do, in fact, enjoy the beginning of the semester is because it’s an opportunity to reaffirm your ethics as an instructor, and your relationship with your students. How are you thinking of them? How do you want them to think of you? What rights and responsibilities should they have within your classroom and how does your classroom policy support that? How does your behavior?

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More than Prince Charming: Equalizing the Ballet Classroom

Good morning America, and welcome to the new semester! A few days ago the dance world woke up to the fact that *shock and horror* people still believe ignorant and harmful stereotypes about boys doing ballet…. I KNOW, right???!!!

… Of course, I’m being sarcastic, we’ve known this for a very long time. To date a lot of our work towards combatting this stigma has often been to provide isolated and safely masculine experiences for boys within ballet classes and dance classes in general. This can look like a boys-only class, it might look like all the boys going at the end of the allegro line to a slower tempo… anything to prove to boys themselves, to concerned parents, to the outside world, that these boys aren’t feminine, or doing anything to endanger their masculinity. Continue reading →

Social Dancing With Pride

Hooray! It’s Pride Month! The time of year when my city gets decked out in rainbows, and the memes pages of the internet are full of people like me! Woo! Pride weekend always seems to coincide with my being at a dance event, and over the last few years I’ve seen organizers make a wide range of choices about what to do with that information – including ignoring it entirely. Continue reading →

Unbound, We Howl

It is international women’s day… and I am not one.

I am frequently mistaken for a woman, in fact I have been for most of my life, and I could probably still pass for one if I chose. So what are the political stakes of deliberately choosing to step outside of the identity – in fact the political position – that is being a woman, and say: “no, I am something else?” Feminist and theorist Laurie Penny writes that she is biologically non-binary, but politically a woman because she believes that the experiences of her life in her body make it fundamentally necessary to speak to the position of women in today’s social environment. What is it, then, this political identity that is “woman” that I have never been a part of? Where does it intersect with “feminist” – which I am? How can that identity and politics and weight and necessity be communicated to those who sit outside of that identity and politics in every direction? Well, if you believe Alexandra Stilianos, and I usually do, you start with anger. Continue reading →

A Lesson in Fear

I thought that the next post up on the Headtail Connection would be dance-specific one. In fact I have a dance post, all written out, but I’m waiting on feedback from a collaborator. So very soon you’ll get the next installment of “What Is Fusion.” But in the meantime… it’s been a very trans week. The republican government is attempting to redefine protected identity categories in order to create a legally actionable definition of gender that is indistinguishable from sex-as-assigned-at-birth. The UK government has also been pursuing an update to how it offers Gender Recognition Certificates, involving a lengthy public consultation. Continue reading →

Deep Waters

The news that came out of New York City Ballet this week was… not news to most of us. Yes, the names were new. The individual circumstances were horrific. But the story and the culture? Hauntingly familiar.

A little while ago I wrote about safety and sexual assault in professional performing environments, now I want to go back and talk about ballet, about institutions, and about how we can respond as peers and colleagues and leaders to individual events, and to the climate of objectification, harassment and assault that forms the deep, dark waters of our profession. How deep do those waters go? Well… Continue reading →

Fusion… What Is It?

This is a post that’s been a long time coming – in fact I first began drafting it while I was living in England and contributing to the Dance X project, which was several years ago now. The topic was brought to light again during Mile High Fusion, particularly at the teacher’s summit, and has been kicking around ever since. Not every thought in here is 100% mine, and some of it flies in the face of some pretty well established social dance conventions. Special thanks to Mark Carpenter and Joe DeMers who helped me hash this out over exhausted Thai food. I’m probably going to get snarky. Here we go. Continue reading →