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Conferences

Join us at NYSDEA's 2023 Winter Conference: Dance & Pride!

Saturday and Sunday, February 4-5th

New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

Identity is a theme explored throughout dance education. However, themes of gender identity, sexuality, and other topics relating to the LGBTQIA+ community are not always addressed. When designing an equitable, diverse, and inclusive curriculum and classroom environment, it is imperative to consider the needs and perspectives of the LGBTQIA+ community. As an art form that provides a platform for self expression, how can dance educators make sure all students' identities are seen and celebrated? Share your ideas, methodology, and discoveries with Dance Educators by submitting your proposal for the 2023 NYSDEA Winter Conference!

Breaking the Gender Binary in Dance Spaces
Presented by: Natalie Swan and Lindsey Bauer
Natalie Swan (she/her) is a queer artist and educator teaching dance, PK-5th grade, in Brooklyn, New York. She is a certified childhood, special education, and dance educator who completed studies in dance, dance education, interdisciplinary arts for children, childhood and special education. In her current school, Natalie collaborates with the school librarian to facilitate a weekly book club, titled the Be-YOU-tiful book club, focusing on reading and responding to books centered around gender diversity and inclusion, diverse family structures, and celebrating unique differences. Natalie is an alumna of SUNY College at Brockport and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and is a member of the United Federation for Teachers, National Dance Education Organization, and New York State Dance Educators Association. Natalie has been a panelist for an NDEO webinar and interviewed on the podcast Dan Talks; both regarding gender inclusion in an elementary school setting. In addition, Natalie has facilitated an Instagram takeover for Dance Ed Tips. She is on social media at Facebook and Instagram where she actively promotes her work.

Lindsey Bauer (she/they) is a queer dance artist and educator working in New Haven Connecticut. She is the lead teacher in the Department of Dance at a public magnet arts high school. Lindsey serves as the advisor for the National Honor Society for the Dance Arts, for the Senior Capstone Project and as a mentor for beginning teachers. At her current position, Lindsey teaches classes in technique and choreography, co-writes curriculum, serves on committees, and is engaged in collaborations, productions and events. Making sure that all students feel welcome and making dance accessible is of the utmost importance in her practice. Lindsey was a panelist in the NDEO webinar “Disrupting Gender Assumptions” in January 2022. In April 2022, she led a workshop entitled “Moving Beyond the Binary in Kinesthetic Spaces” at the dance education program at Central Connecticut State University. Lindsey holds a BFA from Towson University, MFA from Arizona State University and a certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University. Lindsey is on social media: Facebook, Instagram and promotes work through those modalities.

Historically, the teaching of dance supports old notions of a gender binary, and gendered behaviors, which alienates many and makes students feel unsafe and that they can’t participate in dance, in part because they don’t see themselves in the art form. There is a great need for teachers to be more inclusive in their language, their practices, and performances to support ALL students. In this presentation, teachers will be provided with an introduction to inclusive practices and resources that will help them build a classroom and curriculum that moves away from the dichotomy of male/female, and the gendered binary.


Dancing With Pride In Fearless Spaces
Presented by: Michael Kerr
Michael Anthony Kerr, MA (DEL Ambassador) is a dance artist/educator with thirty years of teaching experience in the private and public sectors who holds permanent NYS PreK-12 Certification in Dance. After a stellar twenty-five career with the NYCDOE as a teacher, Blueprint curriculum writer and city-wide PD facilitator, Mr. Kerr has recently retired to pursue new career opportunities. His teaching has been featured in the NY Emmy nominated documentary PS Dance, on News 12 Brooklyn, the New York Teacher, UFT, in Dance Teacher Magazine and Don Rauf’s book Exploring Theater: Choreography and Dance in Theater. He has served as Co-Chair and Chair of UFT/NYC Dance Educators and awarded the Diana Domoracki-Kisto Dance Educator Award in 2015 by NYSDEA. Throughout his career, Kerr has performed for a variety of choreographers and dance companies including Maher Benham, Deborah Damast, Floorplay Contemporary Dance Theater, Gemini Dance Theater, Amy Kail, Dance Consort: Mezzacappa-Gabrain and Deanna Losi of Italy while teaching in Tuscany during the early 90’s. He is an Arnold Fellowship doctoral student in the inaugural class of the Ed.D. in Dance Education Program at Columbia University Teachers College and the Artistic Director of DanceKerr & Dancer (DanceKerr.com) since 2015.

On behalf of the Dance Education Laboratory, I will conduct a workshop for middle and high school dance teachers seeking pedagogical strategies, activities and resources to create safe dance learning spaces for LGBTQ+ adolescents who too often fall victim to acts of bullying. Workshop participants will be engaged in a teacher guided dance warm-up and dance making processes designed to deepen their understanding and those of their students about the explicit and illicit dangerous ramifications of bullying and the importance of celebrating Pride Month in their dance studios.


Me Dance: A Creative Practice for Identity Exploration
Presented by: Amelia Dawe Sanders
Amelia Dawe Sanders (zie/zir) has presented zir choreography at New York Live Arts, 92Y, Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, Mary Anthony’s Studio, Norte Maar’s Dance at Socrates, and Montclair State University. Zie is a teacher at The Taylor School and has taught in the NYC public schools under the Paul Taylor Dance Foundation umbrella. Amelia is pursuing an MA at the Arnhold Graduate Dance Education Program at Hunter College. Zie graduated summa cum laude with a Dance BFA from Montclair State University, where zie performed work by Emmanuèle Phuon, Maxine Steinman, Kathleen Kelley, Jody Sperling, Abby Zbikowski, and Jessica DiMauro. Currently, zie is working with Emmanuèle Phuon on the new work, We, which will be performed this summer at Kaatsbaan. Zie has performed works by Isadora Duncan with Loretta Thomas, Catherine Gallant, and Lori Belilove at venues including Jacob’s Pillow and St. Mark’s Church.

What does it feel like to be you? We all hold many forms of identity: gender identity, racial identity, cultural identity; identity of social class, sexual orientation, or religion; we may identify as a New Yorker, a Red Sox fan, or a bookworm. In this workshop, participants will have the chance to embody some of their own identities while learning a creative practice that can be incorporated into, and adapted to fit, their own classrooms.
A Me Dance is a physical manifestation of internal experience, a movement expression of your identity. A Me Dance can be short or long, simple or complex, serious or lighthearted. Through engaging with identity words and exploring bodily sensations we will create our own Me Dances. This workshop will take participants through multiple uses of the Me Dance concept that differ in scope. We will discuss adaptations of the concept to fit various ages, levels, and types of classes. Participants will be able to try on each other's Me Dances. (What can embodying your experience teach me about my own and about our relationship?) In this session, we will primarily learn through doing. We will reflect upon our own experience and create and share some of the infinite answers to that question, “What does it feel like to be you?”


Gay History and the Limón Legacy
Presented by: Dante Puleio
Dante Puleio: A widely respected former member of the Limón Dance Company for more than a decade, Puleio is the sixth Artistic Director in the Company’s 75-year history, a position that originated with Doris Humphrey. After a diverse performing career with the Limón Dance Company, touring national and international musical theatre productions, television and film, he received his MFA from University of California, Irvine. His research focuses on contextualizing mid 20th century dance for the contemporary artist and audience. He is committed to implementing that research by celebrating José Limón's historical legacy and reimagining his intention and vision to reflect the rapidly shifting 21st century landscape.

There are untold gay histories inside the modern dance canon. The founders of modern dance lived in a time when being open about their sexuality would have threatened their livelihood. As we move forward with awareness and the need for representation, is it acceptable to posthumously reveal these closeted stories? Can we examine their work through a different lens? What kind of impact will that have on artists today? Does this work betray their wishes and who decides? This movement workshop will help answer some of these questions through the examination of José Limón's technique and repertory. We will learn excerpts of repertory, hear some of these untold stories and physicalize the principles of the technique to deepen our understanding and relationship to Legacy of Limón through the LGBTQIA+ lens.


Radio City Rockettes - Coming soon

Equity-informed alignment cueing modalities to honor structural differences and enable student agency through Functional Awareness®
Presented by: Allegra Romita and Nancy Romita
Allegra Romita (MA, CMA, EdM, RYT) is co-creator of Functional Awareness: Anatomy in Action®. Allegra has presented workshops and keynote speeches on the Functional Awareness approach worldwide from New York City to San Diego, from Helsinki to Hong Kong. She has presented sessions at the American College Dance Association (ACDA), the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO), and the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) and as a keynote speaker at the Somatics and Dance Conference. Allegra serves as the Program Administrator and Faculty for NYU Steinhardt Dance Education program. Since 2011, Allegra has been performing regionally and nationally with Sydnie L. Mosley Dances and is the Artistic Visioning Partner with the collective. Allegra graduated from the University of Michigan with honors with a BFA in Dance and a minor in Movement Science. She received her MA in Dance Education from NYU Steinhardt and EdM in Motor Learning and Control from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her passion for somatic investigation led her to certification (CMA) in Laban Movement Analysis through the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies. Allegra teaches at Brooklyn Yoga Project and Heatwise Yoga in Brooklyn, NY, and co-teaches in the teacher training programs at both studios.

Nancy Wanich-Romita (MFA, RSME, M.AmSAT) is a keynote speaker, dance educator, somatic practitioner, and co-author of Functional Awareness: Anatomy in Action for Dancers as well as Functional Awareness and Yoga: An anatomical Guide to the Body in Reflective Practice both published by Oxford University Press. Ms. Romita is Senior Lecturer at Towson University (http://www.towson.edu/dance/fac-wanich-romita.asp), director of Alexander Technique Midatlantic Teacher Training & co-founder of Functional Awareness® (www.functionalawareness.org). She is former Artistic Director of The Moving Company from 1993-2001. Her research has been presented at the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science, NDEO, CORPS de Ballet International, AmSAT ACGMs, & Alexander Technique International Congress. A new, improved and revised edition of Functional Awareness and Yoga: An anatomical Guide to the Body in Reflective Practice is scheduled for release in 2023.

Dance educators are poised to lead the field toward equity-informed cueing and movement coaching that honor and lift up all gender identification. Some traditional alignment cueing is unwittingly laced with implicit gender bias. The presenters are challenging historical perspectives in anatomy that perpetuate the male/female dichotomy. This presentation provides cueing strategies through anatomical visualizations as a method to support student agency and honor all bodies as they embrace the joys of movement. Specifically, the presentation incorporates the Functional Awareness® pedagogical philosophy that embraces diversity and inclusion during embodied movement practice and utilizes specific verbal cueing to support body autonomy in dance training. The participants will learn cueing that moves away from Eurocentric binary imagery and moves toward inclusive approaches in coaching dynamic alignment and movement skills. Additionally, the presentation examines how unconscious daily actions can support or compromise a student’s agency to accept the body they live in. The Functional Awareness 4Rs reflective practice is introduced as an approach to self-agency that nurtures non-judgment, acceptance, and mental and physical balance. The participants will walk away with specific strategies to be utilized in classroom training to improve dance skills and body autonomy.


Genderbending Ballroom
Presented by: Robbie Tristan
Robbie Tristan Szelei, is a former European, three-time World Champion, and Gay Games Gold Medalist Same-Sex Ballroom dancer. He began dancing at the age of 7 and won the Junior National Champion title at the age of 11 in his home country, Hungary. His highest achievement is winning the European and World Champion titles, the latter for both Standard, Latin and Show Dance, making him and his dance partner the only same-sex dancers who have all the World Champion titles. He has been featured in the New York Times, Good Day LA, NBC Raw, and LA Times Magazine. LA Weekly awarded him with the Best of LA People title. In 2011 he formed a non-profit organization, Leading Hands, to bring Ballroom Dance projects to at-risk and LGBT youth. Robbie has recently been featured in the same-sex dance documentary Hot to Trot, and ABC Eyewitness News included him and his NYC-based same-sex ballroom dance class, Gay Ballroom, in their PRIDE 2022 special "We Belong."

Description: Throughout my dance career as a competitor, professional ballroom dancer, and dance instructor, I have experienced the unique world of ballroom dancing through various gender roles. Partner dancing poses many challenges and opportunities to experiment with gender from a dancer's and an instructor's perspectives.
In the lecture portion, I will share my journey and experiences in discovering and experimenting with same-sex ballroom dancing through connections, moves, artistic expression, costumes, and beyond. I will share my experiences as an instructor approaching various demographics in a gender-bending environment. In the movement portion, participants will experience a same/mixed sex ballroom class and play with various roles in partner dancing.


BALLROOM BASIX: A Dance Methodology to Improve Peer Relations & Inclusivity
Presented by: Sidney “Dr. Dance” Grant
Sidney “Dr. Dance” Grant (he/him) won the 2011 USA Argentine Tango Championship, and was part of the first gay male couple to make it to the finals of the USA Argentine Tango in 2016. He taught dance to Julia Roberts and Marcia Gay Harden for the film, Mona Lisa Smile, and was featured in the documentary Mad Hot Ballroom. In 2008, Grant founded BALLROOM BASIX USA, Inc, a nonprofit program in New York City’s schools that teaches Ballroom, Latin & Line dancing to elementary and middle school students, serving more than 25,000 students in nearly 150 schools to date. For his work, Grant was named New Yorker of the Week on NY1 News. Grant lives in Spanish Harlem and speaks Spanish.

Ballroom & Latin dancing represents an especially unique arts modality to foster connection, cooperation and inclusivity. Its' history, however, is particularly heterosexist, and not in step (pun intended!) with DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion). Since its inception in 2008, BALLROOM BASIX USA, Inc. (BBX) — New York City's only large-scale, NON-competitive partner dancing program — has sought to re-envision how partner dancing can be taught to a diversity of young people in a way that truly honors their heritage and identity, both culturally and personally. Specifically, participants in this workshop will experience the script and syllabus of our introductory class, which is crafted in a way that eliminates gender bias/roles ion terms of leading & following, making the dance experience emblematic of respect and acceptance for all. BBX was recently awarded a $25,000 grant specifically to enhance LGBTQI inclusion in our work, deepening our commitment to language and interaction that ensures a level playing field in the "BBX Experience".
Our 60-minute presentation will include an overview of the ways in which gender bias have inhabited the psyche in the history of Ballroom & Latin dancing, and how BALLROOM BASIX USA's unique syllabus and methodology has structured its curriculum to release partner dancing from the shackles of an oppressive past. A "merengue" first class will be presented, and participants will partake in the conversational and choreographic components of our programming, including a call & response script that highlights the respectful, inclusive nature of our work by showcasing the verbal & physical courtesies that are the hallmark of our BBX programming. Dancing in inner & outer circles, participants will experience the affirming nature of the partner dancing interplay which ensures that everyone — regardless of ability, popularity, ethnicity and/or identity — engages rotationally and respectfully with one another.


How to bring the Dance Oral History Project into the Classroom
Presented by: Kathleen Leary & Cassie Mey
Kathleen Leary is the Dance Education Coordinator at the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. She is embarking on a second career as an informal educator after her successful first as a costume designer for theater and film. Her educational background is in Museum Education, graduating with a Masters In Teaching from George Washington University in 2015. Her professional passions include teaching with archival objects, and educational equity and accessibility. She loves creating dynamic tours, interactive games, critical thinking exercises, and thoughtful discussions so that audiences share in her excitement for dance history. When she is not empowering students through an arts-based curriculum, she loves working with textiles, reading biographies, and exploring historic homes.
Cassie Mey is a dance artist and the Oral History Producer for the Jerome Robbins Dance Division at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Ongoing since 1974, the Dance Oral History Project now contains the voices of over 500 dance professionals. Cassie produces and cares for these treasured stories of lives in dance, paying special attention to record absent voices from the archive. Since 2016, she has recorded over 75 original long-form interviews especially centering BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ narrators. She also recently launched several series to highlight tap artists, first generation street and club dancers, and disabled dance artists/activists. A lifelong dancer, Cassie has performed for and collaborated with New York based choreographers Molissa Fenley, Dean Moss, Jillian Peña, Andrea Miller/GALLIM Dance, and Katy Pyle/Ballez, among others. She has also presented her own dance works and collaborations at Movement Research at Judson Church, AUNTS, Socrates Sculpture Park, and other site-specific locations throughout New York City. She holds an MSILS from Pratt Institute and a BA in Dance from Mills College. cassiemey@nypl.org #DanceOralHistoryProject.

The Dance Oral History Project has been a vital part of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts since 1974. In the late 1980s through the 1990s, a major focus of the Project were the lives and work of dance professionals at risk due to the outbreak of HIV and AIDS, especially as this affected the LGBTQIA+ community. Twenty initial interviews were recorded as part of this effort while current day oral histories continue to explore and reflect back on those times. Dance Oral History Producer Cassie Mey and Dance Education Coordinator Kathleen Leary will give the history of the project, and describe how using oral history interviews in the classroom as primary source material can enhance discussion about historical topics specific to LGBTQIA+ dance artists or be the creative inspiration for choreography. We will also look at other examples of dancing to spoken word to explore how different choreographers translate the voice and LGBTQIA+ testimonies into physical expression.


Identity Maintenance: Dancing in the In-Between
Presented by: Yebel Gallegos
Yebel Gallegos is a multi-faceted dance artist from El Paso, Texas devoted to altering the formative education of young dancers by challenging traditional American and Eurocentric techniques that have become standardized. He helped institute Cressida Danza Contemporánea in Yucatán, Mexico serving as a dancer, company teacher, rehearsal director, and academic coordinator for the Conservatorio de Danza de Yucatán. More recently, Yebel concluded a six-year tenure working full-time with the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, based in Salt Lake City, Utah. He’s had the fortune to travel internationally as a performer and educator to countries such as South Korea, Mongolia, France, Austria, and Chile. Yebel holds an MFA from the University of Washington and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Bard College.

This movement session engages with visionary author and scholar, Gloria Anzaldua’s concepts of “Nepantla: Bridge between Worlds” and “Flights of the Imagination: Rereading/Rewriting Realities.” These two theories will support a physical exploration intended on surfacing one’s own liminal identities. By challenging standardized notions of dance technique, this practice facilitates a space for students to (re)identify and (re)affirm a place in the dance world by using their lived experiences as conduits for development.


Dancing Me & Us : Creative Process as Critical Pedagogy
Presented by: Hannah Park
Hannah Park is an assistant chair and associate professor and director of the dance program at Iona University, NY, where she also serves as the artistic director of the residential dance ensemble. Her current research interests encompass dance and creative processes—the application of somatics in dance and social justice education, community engagement, and arts entrepreneurship education. She holds a PhD in dance education from Temple University, an MFA in dance performance and choreography from Tisch NYU, and a BFA in dance performance and choreography from the SUNY Purchase, and is a somatic practitioner certified in Laban Movement Analysis/Bartinieff Movement Fundamentals and Body Mind Dancing.

The pandemic has reminded dance educators of the power of arts and creativity for reflection and for processing one’s thoughts and voices both individually and collectively. Within the setting of a dance class, this reflection can deepen students’ learning while using movement and creativity to explore and address the ongoing injustices at every level of American society that the pandemic has revealed. One way to do this is through exploring identity and teaching empathy. This includes intentionally grounding creative processes in examinations of identity and its various meanings and possibilities, using inclusion frameworks in classes and/or choreographic processes, and deliberately guiding students in exploring issues surrounding identity and justice that emanate from their own experiences. These approaches can aid in developing new approaches to learning, creating, and dancing. The proposed session highlights ways to link social justice and inclusion with choreographic and creative curriculums, with a focus on exploring identity. Its aim is to demonstrate a way to empower and uplift participants’ voices on the topic of inclusivity through movement and creative processes. The session will present some basic background research on critical pedagogy and teaching empathy in the context of dance. It will include visuals, quotes from various people’s lived experiences, movement and creativity explorations, and reflections on identity, justice, and performance. Best practices for implementing inclusive pedagogy and teaching empathy within a dance and creative process context will be discussed, including topics such as setting communal agreements, facilitator sensitivity, handling “uncomfortable” moments, accommodating students’ comfort levels with somatic explorations, and effective debrief procedures to promote reflexivity.


Remixing Repertoire
Presented by: Catherine Cabeen
Catherine Cabeen, MFA, is a former dancer with the Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane Company (BTJ/AZ), the Martha Graham Dance Company, and Richard Move's MoveOpolis!, among others. She is a repetiteur for BTJ/AZ and an Associate Professor of Dance at Marymount Manhattan College where she teaches Graham Technique, Experiential Anatomy, Somatic Awareness, and a range of courses that explore 20th and 21st century dance history through the lenses of race, gender, and social justice movements. Cabeen has studied Vinyasa Yoga and meditation for 26 years and became certified as a yoga teacher with OM Yoga in 2005. She has practiced and performed Contact Improvisation for over twenty years working with artists such as Nancy Stark Smith and Bill T Jones. She first began her study of the intersection of experiential anatomy and environmental activism in 2014 with Andrea Olsen. Cabeen is honored to have worked with Martha Eddy and Dynamic Embodiment since 2018, becoming a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and Dynamic Embodiment Practitioner (DEP) in 2021. She is currently in training (class of 2023) to become a Certified Mindfulness Meditation Teacher with Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield.

In teaching the Martha Graham Technique, I am always seeking to integrate craftsmanship and critical thinking, with our ever-changing cultural climate. All movement in Graham’s technique originates from the pelvic floor, and as we continue to see in American society, for women, trans, and non-binary folk to control their own pelvis, is a contentious issue. Graham’s work is also consistently heteronormative, which is problematic in a contemporary teaching context. In this 60-minute workshop we will explore pedagogical interventions that I utilize in my teaching of Graham’s legacy to break up the binary gendered constraints of the technique and repertoire. In this work I invite students of all genders and sexual orientations, to play with gender as an embodied performance, and to take agency over their own pelvis as a source of power. The movement workshop will consist of an abbreviated Graham warm up in which the participants are invited to integrate their pelvis, posture, and sense of pride, as both an alignment of historic aesthetic value and potential political subversion, for students who do not identify as cis gendered and/or heterosexual.
We will then learn an excerpt from Graham’s 1947 Errand into the Maze, Graham’s retelling of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, in which she recasts Ariadne, Theseus’ lover, as the slayer of the Minotaur. Traditionally, a male dancer dances the Minotaur, Ariadne is female, and their movement vocabularies are decidedly different. However, in our class all students will learn both parts of the duet excerpt. This provides an embodied platform from which to discuss the roles of gender and power in Graham’s work, and it invites each dancer to critically engage with their experiences of contrasting characters, empowering self-reflection, leading to a discussion of each dancer’s relationship to the performance of gender and sexuality.