by Rhee Gold
After months of attending conferences and giving speeches across the United States and Canada, I’ve discovered that there is always more to appreciate about our dance education community.
We are witnessing a time in dance history when many school owners have become smart small business owners who offer quality dance education to every child—and they are being rewarded with financial success. For dance teachers, there have never been more opportunities to teach, not only at these schools but also in a new field that has evolved, in which master teachers travel throughout North America to teach and choreograph at small-town studios. And everywhere they go, they inspire young people to pursue their dance dreams.
Dance educators have changed. They are more open-minded than ever before about discussing the need for age-appropriate movement, costuming, and choreography—a mindset that’s important to the welfare of students and of the field in general. But there is still work to be done in this area, and I have learned, when addressing such sensitive issues, that we can’t simply tell teachers what’s wrong; we must also show them what’s right. It all comes down to educating—not judging. In my view, when people feel judged, they’re less likely to be open to new ideas or to engage in continuing education.
Through the years, I’ve taken part in many discussions about working with children who have learning or physical disabilities and integrating them into our classrooms. Until a couple of years ago, no information or training existed for dance teachers who wanted to work with this population. But now, with new certification programs and training options, the doors of schools across North America are flying open to every child or adult who wants to be inspired by the art of dance.
Today more teachers than ever are striving for excellence in the classroom by continuing their own education at workshops, seminars, and conferences—all of which are raising the standard in our classrooms and expanding the possibilities for all students.
I am proud of our dance community and honored to be part of it. Yes, we can do better—there’s always room to grow—and we will. But we have come a long way, baby, and the future looks bright.
Enjoy the journey!