Addressing Racism in the Dance World & Educating the Human
By Erin Pride
If you didn’t already know, The Dance Teacher Network Facebook Group is now archived. This was one of the biggest dance community groups on Facebook where dance teachers went to get resources, and have conversations.
One of the founders of the group made a statement about how she wanted to stay on mission, and not comment on politics, religion or race, etc.
And my honest thoughts are…
I feel bad for her. I feel bad because I don’t even know how I would facilitate a group of that size and a group with so many perspectives and points of view…
That being said, it shows me that so many people are still seeing “dance” as simply a physical form of movement, and are disconnected from educating the human.
When you have such a large platform, and you’re gifted with that platform, a decision on how you’re going to show up when the climate of the world changes that supports your community needs to be made.
Unfortunately, Dance Teacher Network’s response to our current pressing issues failed to do that...
This was an opportunity to have those uncomfortable conversations, and discuss the elephant in the dance room, which is:
Racism exists and racism exists in the dance world.
In this post, I want to discuss why it is monumental as dance educators to focus on the full embodiment of educating our students to be well-rounded humans, not just dancers...
So where do we start?
We can begin with recognition.
Recognizing the issue(s) in the first place to begin.
Racism in the dance world is everywhere...
- It’s in the casting
- It’s in the color of the shoes
- The tights color
- The hairstyles
When we first can address the problems, we can be on our way to finding a solution!
You see, one day, our young dancers will step into the roles of garment makers, company directors, casting agents…The change starts with them, right in our classrooms, right in our studios.
And the conversation starts with us!
It takes courageous teachers, courageous leaders, courageous humans to lead and show up for their students.
And by doing so, we need to get uncomfortable. Which is one of the reasons DTN had to be archived. They didn’t want to get uncomfortable...
Big platforms like them need to hold space for those uncomfortable conversations to happen in order to bring issues to the surface.
Through those conversations, we can begin to come together, learn from others’ experiences, different perspectives, and backgrounds.
And you know what will happen from there?
Change can be scary, especially for those who’ve benefited so long from our unjust system.
But it’s important for us to continue facilitating conversations that build community, and support diversity and inclusion. That is the only way we can come together and bring these kinds of conversations in our dance classrooms.
We have to remember we are educators first. Yes, we focus on dance as our topic of learning but whenever we teach, especially to our younger generations, we must also educate them as a human first, rather than “just a dancer.”
How can you start this?
- Have discussions in class
- Incorporate conversations when doing team-building exercises
- Educate yourself prior to discussions
- Acknowledge your own privileges, and biases
- Ask questions
- Listen to others
- Make an effort to diversify
- Be conscious about the language, music, costumes you choose
- Include parents into the conversations
As dancers, dance educators, coaches, etc. we must remember we are more than just an “industry,” we are a community. A community that holds space and celebrates the art of movement. The expression from our hearts through our bodies.
But we are humans first. And we need to be educated on how to address and work through challenging situations as well as make an effort in the name of equality and diversity.
For all my fellow dance community members I encourage you to get uncomfortable. To stand up and have those tricky conversations. That is how we find solutions, and in the end, come together.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and urge you to have the courage to speak up, learn, listen, and redirect how you lead as a dance educator and human.
Want to learn more? Listen to Ep.87 of The Dance Boss Podcast titled Addressing Racism in the Dance World + Educating the Human by clicking HERE.
Erin is an online business coach for dance educators and host of the Dance Boss Podcast. She is a Jersey girl all the way, graduated from Montclair State University with a B.F.A. in Dance and received her Masters in Dance Education from New York University. Erin helps dance educators niche down, build an online business, and bring in additional revenue for them and their families. Erin began her coaching journey as a dance education coach, providing resources and training to help dance educators run more successful classrooms. Now Erin helps her fellow dance educators pursue their dreams and start an online business that impacts the masses. To learn more about Erin visit erindpride.com, and you can hang out with Erin on Instagram and Facebook.