How Dance is Taught


In this episode of DanceCast, Silva interviews the dance educator Daniel Levi-Sanchez. Daniel reflects on his formative years teaching himself street forms as well as eventually receiving more traditional training from the Inner-City Ensemble Theatre and Dance Co., from Juilliard, and from Twyla Tharp herself. Daniel advocates for a teaching style that empowers students instead of isolates them. He muses on how a ballet or jazz class will lose a lot of students if the class is presented in the public schools, or how students who go to a studio often end up dropping out after high school or college. In 2019, Daniel was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and acquired a disability. After successfully completing a dance challenge from an old colleague, Daniel began to revisit dance with a focus on dance teachers with disabilities.


Daniel stands with his hands on his hips in a dance studio

Photography by Jody Somers/J Somers Photography LLC

Daniel Levi-Sanchez, from Paterson, New Jersey, received his formal dance training from the Inner-City Ensemble Theatre and Dance Co. and the Juilliard School of Dance. He performed with Twyla Tharp Dance, American Ballet Theatre, and ODC/San Francisco and is a dance educator with a master’s degree in Education from Rutgers University. Daniel has taught ballet and modern dance at Rutgers University, Raritan Valley Community College, and for three years at PS 191, The Paul Robeson School in Crown Heights Brooklyn.

In 2019, Daniel was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, a neuromuscular disorder brought on by an autoimmune response resulting in permanent disability. Today, Daniel is focusing on his health first, as well as finding ways of remaining involved in the dance community through advocacy for teachers with disabilities, advice for dancers and teachers, writing and testing the limits of what he can and cannot do in the hope of someday being able to teach again. Daniel currently resides in Kingston, Rhode Island.

Daniel dances on grass in a field. He bends low with his arm to the side.

Photo courtesy Daniel Levi-Sanchez