Glitter and soul searching in the world of competitive dance

One of the only people of color in a leadership role in the industry is Sonia James Pennington, founder of the National Dance Showcase co...

One of the only people of color in a leadership role in the industry is Sonia James Pennington, founder of the National Dance Showcase competition. “I watch the color studio directors walk into one of our events, and I see that I’m African American, and there’s a feeling of, ‘I can breathe out,'” she said. “If we could standardize diversity at all levels, everyone would benefit. “

Recently, a few established competitions and conventions have taken small steps forward. Break the Floor Productions, which hosts some of the biggest events in the industry, has launched an educational program YouTube series showcasing black dance performers. The trophies for the winners of the New York City Dance Alliance National Competition no longer mention gender. Large-scale reform, however, seems far away.

This slow pace of change prompted 23-year-old Olivia Zimmerman to develop Embody Dance Conference. Starting this weekend, the new dance convention – its competition kicks off next year – aims to create “a safer and more inclusive dance community. “

Zimmerman grew up in competitions and conventions and worked as a competition director for a dance studio. Embody, which started out as his college thesis, is very ambitious. This weekend’s event at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut will feature seminars for dancers on anti-racism, mental health and gender. (TikTok dance star Charli D’Amelio will discuss the impact of social media on mental health.) Cogliandro’s The Dance Safe will host workshops. Classes will not divide students by gender and participants will specify their pronouns. Arrangements will be made for disabled dancers.

The faculty will include transgender artists, including Frederick; several people of color; and mental health professionals, including dancer and therapist Breanna Myers. And – perhaps the most revolutionary of all – although Embody is currently a nonprofit, Zimmerman plans to eventually run the entire business as a nonprofit organization.

Only a few hundred people signed up for Embody’s first convention. But Zimmerman hopes to pilot a model that other events can later adapt. “It’s not exclusive,” she said. “We’re not trying to make money by ‘being the change’. I want everyone to follow suit, so that in five years we are just another convention.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Glitter and soul searching in the world of competitive dance
Glitter and soul searching in the world of competitive dance
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