Remove the Board of Directors and Faculty Leadership at Joy of Motion Dance Center
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The dance community of the DMV believed in Joy of Motion Dance Center as an organization that aimed to create and grow a thriving, creative community that celebrates its diversity through dance; and as a place where dance is for everyone.
However, JOMDC has publicly fostered an environment that stands in stark contrast to its mission, and continues to condone deliberate discrimination; systematic racism; contempt for any opinions from faculty and staff; exceptionally poor leadership and financial mismanagement; and an overall lack of respect for the students, faculty, staff, and community.
Over the last few weeks, the former faculty began to share disappointing and unjust experiences, and asked the Board of Directors for changes: remove racist and discriminatory staff, create a transparent Board of Directors and process, include people of color in leadership, standardize the inclusion former faculty in all administrative discussions, and formally extend acceptable employment offers to all faculty and staff who were released at this time. Yet, again our requests have gone unanswered. The JOMDC Board of Directors’ continued silence affirms that they are complicit in condoning the aforementioned behaviors. And that silence is deafening.
As JOMDC leadership refuses to acknowledge what is happening, the community deserves answers. Below you will find specific instances that former faculty sent to JOMDC in a letter dated April 4th, 2020.
- Multiple instances of leadership telling faculty that their music, style, and teaching methods are too “ethnic”;
- For example, one instructor was told she could not use drums in her African dance class, and soon after the class was removed from the schedule.
- Another instructor was removed because his English-language proficiency was deemed poor.
- A young female student was reprimanded for “ being “too ghetto” in front of her peers and teachers. That student left the performance in tears.
- Over many years, one member of leadership led a systematic and purposeful effort to fire faculty of color. This person has subsequently openly touted her success in removing these instructors to caucasian faculty members.
- For example, one of the Black male instructors was hired to teach 15 classes across multiple programs and within weeks was reduced to teaching one class.
- - Leadership has approached and demeaned one instructor by asking her to clean her home, with no basis for this ask except the instructor’s ethnicity. To our knowledge, this request was not made of any caucasian instructor.
BODY SHAMING & OBJECTIFICATION
- After returning from a JOMDC trip to NYC with students, one leadership member commented to another instructor on the beauty of one of the student’s figure and explained in explicit detail the shape and outline of the underage student’s breast and nipple.
- Multiple instances of body shaming and objectifying students on their weight, shape, height and race. This leadership member openly mocked these students during Youth Dance Ensemble (YDE) education and evaluation committees, often withholding placement, and repeatedly pushed faculty to ask students to wear specific clothing despite the students’ repeatedly saying they were uncomfortable in said attire.
- One faculty member selected inappropriate costumes for a recent Youth Dance Ensemble performance. The costumes were white and completely sheer, forcing the photographer to edit the photos by photo-shopping parts of the dancers’ bodies in order to protect the students.
- Students were forced to perform at “JoyFest” in 2017 in unsafe conditions that ultimately led to students being hospitalized for burns on their feet from the stage as well as heat stroke.
- Continued disparities in pay decisions, including some faculty receiving rates $20-30 per hour less than others, and some teachers receiving bonus pay based on numbers of students while others do not. These discrepancies appear to be without any objective basis such as experience but based solely on inherent bias.
- After the production of a successful show at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on behalf of JOMDC, JOMDC withheld payment to faculty who choreographed and produced the show. Despite the negotiated agreement, this payment currently remains outstanding.
DIVISIVE & SEGRATORY BEHAVIOR
- JOMDC leadership provided parents with the personal contact information of faculty (including phone numbers), encouraging them to call teachers with complaints about their teaching styles. Leadership then denied providing this information, but fired the instructor, claiming inadequacy.
- On multiple occasions, leadership advised both subordinates and titled superiors to demote or fire minority faculty.
- Managers and faculty have been removed from the process of class scheduling and programming meetings. Faculty are discouraged to provide feedback about scheduling, school programming, or studio policies. Any faculty who has expressed an opinion differing from leadership has been spurned.
MANIPULATION OF CREATIVE WORK
- JOMDC edited the content of faculty’s class videos without their knowledge or permission.
JOMDC has taken no tangible action to remedy or change this toxic environment.
Thus, as a community of former faculty, students, parents, and dancers, we demand that (1) the faculty leadership be removed, and (2) the Board of Directors step down -- as it is clear they are not able to lead this organization effectively, equally, or with respect for the community. These so-called leaders have not answered our calls for action nor accepted an invitation to meet openly. They continue to show that they are comfortable hiding behind emails and carrying on with the status quo.
Please join us by adding your name to the list of supporters who want this institution to actually become a safe, just, and inclusive community where dance is truly for everyone.
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