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Dear Dance Community,

My name is Dr. Tomi-Ann Roberts. I am a PhD psychologist and professor, and my expertise is in the areas of objectification and sexualization. I am the founder of a highly generative theory in psychology known as Objectification Theory. I have served on several American Psychological Association (APA) task forces and as an expert in court cases involving sexualization as a form of gender discrimination. I am also a survivor of sexual harassment by Harvey Weinstein (but that’s a story for another day).

Many of you know me from my educational videos on sexualization in dance, which discuss how sexualization can lead to self-objectification in dancers, as well as objectification from viewers and teachers, leading in some cases to sexual abuse or even trafficking. It has been truly gratifying getting to know and work alongside so many of you: the creators, movers, survivors, experts, and advocates I’ve met through the years.

As I’m sure is true for many of you, it was choreographer, dancer, and dance educator Leslie Scott Zanovitch who inspired me to join this movement, which has always centered on advocating for safer and healthier youth dance environments. Over the last eight years my students and I have worked on first-of-its-kind dance-specific sexualization research, to bring scientific evidence to our education and advocacy in the dance industry.

You may have seen press releases, IG Lives, or other posts regarding a new organization NEAMA - Nonprofit Education and Advocacy for the Movement Arts. I have taken an active role in ensuring the success of this nonprofit by serving as Co-Vice President of its Board of Directors. In fact, many of the contributors behind NEAMA, like me, have been the creative forces pioneering and growing the world’s first dance-specific certification program to protect the emotional, physical, and sexual safety of youth and adults. You undoubtedly recognize this landmark certification program as Youth Protection Advocates in Dance (YPAD).

Between 2012-2018, YPAD grew exponentially under a nonprofit model that fostered accountability, accessibility, and collaboration. In 2019, the assets of YPAD were acquired and the organization became a for-profit corporation. This transfer of assets did not include any financial compensation to any individual for the assets, so I intentionally use the term “acquired” rather than “purchased.”

In June 2022, YPAD’s experts and advocates were notified by email that the Advisory Panel was dissolved. After devoting several years to the development and facilitation of high-quality evidence-based educational materials, YPAD’s experts were told that their intellectual property would be carved into smaller e-courses and sold through a different for-profit company, risking its circulation by non-experts without proper assurances of the trauma-informed approach upon which our YPAD founder and qualified specialists built its integrity.

As well, we were told that both YPAD’s certification and public support services would be permanently discontinued. For these significant changes to happen without our input was alarming. Therefore, the credentialed experts that created YPAD certification removed our content, names, brand, and likeness from YPAD, as we did not feel comfortable having our education circulated in a piecemeal fashion without our oversight.

In the past few months, we have received inquiries as to where YPAD's services, founder, programs, and others affiliated with YPAD have been. Well, we haven’t gone anywhere.

We took some time to breathe and to remind ourselves of our deep commitment to retain and strengthen the credibility expected from us as leaders of safety in the movement arts community. And we now see this moment as an opportunity. The knowledge we gained from our time at YPAD, including our three plus years of involvement in its for-profit configuration, has grown us in ways that we never foresaw, but now appreciate. We know that our mission is best served through a stand-alone nonprofit that unapologetically prioritizes advocacy and collaboration.

Because those of us who created YPAD and certification have deep respect for so many of you who invested in it, both emotionally and financially, we created NEAMA. And we’re here not only to do what we’ve always done, but to expand our vision and expertise to encompass all areas of the movement arts for all ages. Our veteran educators and advocates are joined by exciting new voices, and we look forward to offering our broad range of services to the entire movement arts community. We hope you will join us in this mission to ensure safe movement arts spaces where all can thrive.

________________________________
Tomi-Ann Roberts, PhD
Professor of Psychology, Colorado College
Co-Vice President, Nonprofit Education and Advocacy in the Movement Arts (NEAMA)
Former Advisory Panel member, Youth Protection Advocates in Dance (YPAD)

*NEAMA has issued a clarification concerning the mention of the YPAD's 2019 acquisition.

NEAMA’s Board of Directors – Updates and Further Clarity - (Nov 7th, 2022)

Dear Dance Community,

We want to issue a clarification concerning a statement in Dr. Tomi-Ann Roberts’ Nov 2nd letter about the 2019 transfer of ownership of YPAD. In response to YPAD’s Open Community Letter, NEAMA’s Board of Directors has thoroughly reviewed the aforementioned January 2019 agreement: we can confirm this was an asset purchase agreement. The intention of the letter was not to convey that there was no financial exchange related or involved in the purchase.

The agreement included:

  • a $1,500 payment to cover EDIFY Movement’s administrative debts,
    a “royalty agreement” for future consultations by Leslie Scott Zanovitch under the for-profit configuration,
    AND
  • payments forone (1) month of full-time work for Leslie Scott Zanovitch ($2,800), part-time work for Joseph Zanovitch ($1,400),
    AND
  • part-time work for an administrative assistant ($800).
    Between 2019 to June, 2022, Leslie earned a total of $114,984.00 for her labor as a content manager and developer; lead facilitator of all YPAD trainings; trainer for all facilitators; Co-Chair of the Advisory Panel; lead consultant for emergencies and high-impact situations; risk-assessment; and other needs.

Lastly, we would like to close with a reminder to the community. NEAMA operates on a non-profit model: that means we need time for discussing, collaborating, building consensus, voting, and finally executing our decisions. We need time to follow our democratic processes and that sometimes means that our communications will take time to prepare. For that reason, we humbly request your patience and understanding.

Our mission is centered on transparency and integrity: we’re grateful for the opportunity to provide further clarity on Dr. Tomi-Ann’s letter. We also thank the community for your responses and engagement. If you have any questions or would like to meet with NEAMA’s Board of Directors, please message us at info@neamacares.org or visit our Contact page.

Thank you,

________________________________

NEAMA, Board of Directors