Dancing in Isolation: Teaching Movement in a Virtual Setting

Aug 19, 2020 2:00-3:30pm EDT

Watch the Webinar


This past semester saw a swift transition to remote arts instruction for many teachers. Amidst feelings of isolation and anxiety about the future, teachers and students had to adjust to a new way of learning and teaching. As humans so often do in times of crisis, our communities rose to the challenge. Teachers and students worked together to learn new technology; resources for remote teaching were shared throughout the art community; and genuine efforts were made to maintain a sense of community despite the imposed social distance. As we look towards the fall, and continued remote instruction for many schools, arts instructors still need a space to hear others’ experiences, share, and gather resources on navigating online arts instruction. With this new webinar series, a2ru hopes to provide that space.

Part 4 of this series will focus on dance. The panelists for this webinar are particularly invested in the student experience, and they will share: strategies for keeping students safe in the classroom; tips on how to gather student input and feedback; and their experiences with connecting and supporting students during this time of social distancing. Classes and studios are not only taking a variety of new forms in the fall, but they are also in a state of flux. Webinar attendees will leave the session with information on keeping curriculums flexible, adapting dance classes both online and in a group setting restricted by COVID safety measures; and transferring dance theory classes to an online setting. Most importantly, the panel is designed to be a conversation between the panelists and the audience. We want to hear about your experiences and any questions you might have. We encourage attendees to send questions to a2ru Program Coordinator, Charisse Willis, at a2ru-events@umich.edu prior to the event.


Jennifer Salk received her M.F.A. from Ohio State University and her B.F.A. from the University of Utah. She teaches modern dance technique, composition, dance history, teaching methods, and The Creative Process. She teaches graduate seminars in teaching methods, and composition. She spent seven years in NYC dancing with various choreographers including David Dorfman and Chris Burnside, and was also the artistic director of her own company. Salk was an assistant professor in the dance department at the University of South Florida prior to coming to the University of Washington.

Salk has taught master classes and choreographed for companies and schools around the country, as well as in Istanbul, Turkey and Asuncion, Paraguay. She is on faculty at the Staibdance Summer Dance Intensive in Sorrento, Italy. Most recently she has performed with Mark Haim in This Land is Your Land, internationally. She has presented her research at the Arts & Society, International Association for Dance Medicine and Science and National Dance Education Organization conferences. She has taught at American Dance Festival and the Florida Dance Festival. Her DVD, “Experiential Anatomy in Dance Technique: Eight Skeletal Explorations” was published by Human Kinetics in 2010. Salk is the recipient of the Fulbright Specialist Roster Grant, and the Distinguished Teaching Award at UW in 2006. She was the Donald E. Petersen Endowed Fellow from 2010 – 2013. She was the Floyd and Delores Endowed Chair in the Arts from 2015 – 2018 and is currently a Donald E. Petersen Endowed Professor. She recently received a Mellon Foundation Fellowship for anfractuous, a collaborative project with media artist Martin Jarmick. She was chair from 2013 until Spring 2020 and looks forward to returning to dance making, teaching and writing about dance.


Stacy Alley is the Director of the Musical Theatre program and Associate Professor of Musical Theatre/Dance at the University of Alabama (UA). She is also a professional director and choreographer whose recent credits include work in Norway, Scotland, Chile, and at Forestburgh Playhouse in New York and SummerTide Theatre in Gulf Shores. Recent UA directing/choreography credits include A Chorus Line, Young Frankenstein, 42nd Street, Urinetown, and Chicago as well as pieces in Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre concerts. Stacy has been performing professionally for over thirty years, including five years as a featured dancer in Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular. She is a member of the Southeastern Theatre Conference, the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, the Alabama Conference of Theatre, and is Vice President of the Musical Theatre Educators Alliance International. She holds an MFA in Acting from the University of Alabama, a BA in Theatre from the University of Southern California, and is a Certified Movement Analyst through The Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies in NYC.


Dr. Fenella Kennedy is an Assistant Professor of Dance at the University of Alabama (UA). Their research – creative and theoretical – examines how different articulations of our dance practices can shape our values and who we are as a society. Before joining the faculty at UA, Dr. Kennedy danced with Aegis Live Arts and Nutshell Contemporary Dance Company in Europe, where they also restaged Martha Graham repertory on undergraduate students. In their spare time, Dr. Kennedy teaches and organizes events for the Blues and Fusion social partner dance communities.

Dr. Kennedy’s pedagogical background draws from a decade of work as a play worker and educator for children with various disabilities. A passionate advocate for inclusivity in higher education, they work to integrate active learning and multiple ways of demonstrating excellence into every subject and syllabus. Their classes are playful, critical, and curious.


Crystal Michelle Perkins is a choreographer, teacher, and performer who served as the Associate Artistic Director of the internationally renowned Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC). Previous to her appointment, she was a dancer with DCDC’s professional touring company for nine seasons. She served as resident choreographer, and was charged with maintaining an extensive repertory of masterworks by beloved African American choreographers, including works by Donald Byrd, Donald McKayle and Dianne McIntyre. In 2014, she received the Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council and the Josie Award, which recognizes exceptional performance in the art of dance. Ms. Perkins holds an MFA in Dance from The Ohio State University, and a BFA in Dance Performance from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. She is a member of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters inaugural class of Leadership Fellows, and a member of the OhioDance Board of Trustees.

As a choreographer, performer, and researcher she has traveled both nationally and internationally, including to Ougadougou, Burkina Faso where she began The Beautiful Archive Project, an audio archive centered on the perception of black female embodiment in contemporary dance performance.

Ms. Perkins has collaborated with the Dayton Philharmonic, Blackbird String Quartet, The University of Dayton’s Department of Music, and the Khalid Moss Jazz Trio. The latter created an original composition for her ensemble work entitled Unrested and Unfaithful, which sits in DCDC’s permanent repertoire. The Descent of this Water: Rain (2014), an embodied reflection on the process of migration for people of color in the American south, was commissioned by the Dublin Arts Council as a site-specific collaborative community project. Ms. Perkins is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Dance at The Ohio State University, where she teaches contemporary movement practice.


Susan Petry is a choreographer, solo performer, and arts advocate. In addition to her concert dance work, she has choreographed for operas, site specific projects, and film.

She first arrived at The Ohio State University (OSU) in 1983 as a visiting artist, became a graduate student, and then an Assistant Professor. In 1989, she left OSU to pursue a decade of free-lance career. After this fulfilling work, she returned to OSU as an Associate Professor for four years. After another short hiatus, she returned to OSU as Assistant Dean, and then the Department of Dance Chair from 2006 – 2015. Having taken her leave from administration, she is currently a Professor in OSU’s Department of Dance.

Petry has served as the Artistic Director of The Van Pelt Dance Ensemble in Columbus. She has held a residency at Headlands Center for the Arts in California, taught at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and at the Taiwan National University of the Arts, and served as company teacher and rehearsal director for the Cloud Gate Dance Company of Taiwan.

Her accolades are numerous. She has received eight Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards over the years, most recently in 2018, The Greater Columbus Arts Council’s Raymond J. Hanley Fellowship in 2013, and OhioDance’s award for Contributions to Dance Education in 2016. Opera credits include Opera Columbus’ 2018 Madama Butterfly and 2017 Carmen with director Crystal Manich, and OSU’s 2016 Dido & Aeneas, directed by A. Scott Parry. In 2017, with grants from Critical Difference for Women, Greater Columbus Arts Council, and The Puffin Foundation, she performed a one-woman show, The Linen Closet and Other Collections.

Current projects include 19ChoreOVID’s, a new duet with her colleague Crystal Michelle Perkins about race, and a solo, “Unfinished”. The latter two will premiere in May 2021. For more information, please visit her website.


Maya Tillman-Rayton is the instructor for Hip-hop I – Fundamentals of Hip-hop. She is a 2003 graduate of the University of Kansas, with a degree in Human Biology, as well as a former member of the Unity Dance Crew where she served as president from 2001-03. Maya’s teaching career spans 15 years in the Lawrence and Kansas City Area, earning several choreography and entertainment awards for her works. She is also a two-time scholarship recipient from Monsters of Hip Hop dance conventions. Recently Maya was a Catalyst Choreographer for Kansas City’s Day of Dance.