Ten times a year, Dance Studio Life magazine presents pages and pages of insightful, emotional, and advice-packed articles about the dance studio world. But our readers tell us that what’s on the cover is always a treat as well—from twirling toddlers to dance icons.
Auditions can be harrowing, whether dancers are trying to get into professional companies, pre-professional training programs, shows, or colleges. But my years of experience teaching in the University at Buffalo Theater and Dance Department—and conducting auditions for prospective students—have shown me that teachers can help prepare students to put their best selves forward when auditioning.
When something goes wrong with your recital venue, it doesn’t just seem like a problem; it seems like a nightmare. In addition to the usual recital stress, you may find yourself with no access to the wings, no lights, or locked dressing rooms. Sometimes, because of scheduling snafus or disasters like floods, fires, or auto accidents, your venue suddenly isn’t available at all. Still, the show must go on.
In Atlanta, Dance Truck brings dance anywhere it wants to go
We’ve all experienced it: feeling exhausted and overwhelmed to the point where we can hardly bring ourselves to care anymore. Burnout.
Nothing is more exciting than watching a large group dance. What’s onstage can be poetry in motion, both visually and in terms of energy, whether it’s Dein Perry’s Tap Dogs tearing up stages all over the world, the hip-hop moves of the Jabbawockeez in Las Vegas, or the stadium-sized spectacle of the opening number for the Olympic Games. Regardless of the kind of dancing, in creating a large-ensemble piece the choreographers have to consider movement, themes, transitions, the venue, and the audience.
Bundling is hot. The idea of lumping unrelated items together and selling the whole shebang for one price has always had its appeal. In times past, it was called a grab bag or a package deal. To today’s generation, it’s a bundle.
Studios use guest teachers for a dance bag’s worth of reasons.
One of the benefits of attending conferences is the opportunity to network—to make new professional contacts, share ideas, and develop new friendships. That’s what happened to me at the 2011 DanceLife Teacher Conference. It was my first time presenting a seminar at a major conference, and it was also when I met Melanie Gibbs, owner of Boca Dance Studio in Boca Raton, Florida. She and I have since formed a great mentoring relationship, and best of all, a friendship.
Every spring since I opened my school, Shannon O’Brien School of Dance, 20 years ago in Seekonk, Massachusetts, I am asked the same question: “Are you getting ready for your annual recital?” The answer is no, because our recital was held months before, in October.
When you’re getting ready to put on a recital, technical production might not be the first thing on your mind. Dance is your primary focus, and rightly so. But production values can have a tremendous impact on how your studio is perceived, by parents and public alike, as the experiences of two very different types of schools prove. Both have expanded the technical aspects of their shows, and directors of both studios say the response from their audiences has been huge. And they offer plenty of ideas for anyone interested in producing exciting, memorable shows.
By Karen White
The five wild turkeys were in no rush, scratching their way methodically across the DanceLife Retreat Center lawn, looking up and loping into the woods when a car crunched across the gravel drive.
For many studio owners, the most hectic day of the year isn’t the day of the recital or the first day of classes—it’s the first day that families can purchase tickets to the end-of-the-year show. Owners arrive at the studio in the morning to find a line of parents wrapped around the building, tapping their feet as they wait to buy their tickets. The entire day is given over to ticket sales, crowd control, and the hope that clients will be satisfied.
Normally I don’t approve of “tricking” kids into something. But if it’s for their own good and they end up loving it, what’s the harm? When structuring a class, I like to give students the technique they need but also sprinkle in some of the juicy material that makes up the final combination. Here’s the scoop on how to structure a class that fits in technique and lets kids dance their hearts out at the end: sneak the final combo into the class bit by bit.
I teach for an amazing woman who built a big school with the help of her mother, who worked in the office until she died over a year ago, at a young age. It was stunning to all of us involved in the school because she really was the one who prepared and had everything organized for everything that happens outside of the classes. She died in the spring, so all the teachers and friends jumped in to help get through the rest of the year. It worked out fine and everyone bonded, feeling like they were part of the team. It was very rewarding. When the next season started my boss had hired a new studio manager to replace her mother.
For many people, the word “marketing” drums up colorful images of advertising: print and television ads, brochures and flyers, websites and blogs. But that’s not all marketing can be. For dance teachers—and studio owners in particular—marketing must go above and beyond common, passive forms of advertising to showcase the value of our skills and services and build and sustain positive relationships.
From the moment Lonnie Weeks put a finger on the barre, Magaly Suárez was on him. “Straighten your knees!” she yelled. “Point your feet! Jump, relax your hands.” The barrage was constant, yet after every few comments she would exclaim about how much potential he has, shrieking with delight when he did well, so excited that she’d speak Spanish instead of English.
Now in its 76th year, the dance family that is Dance Masters of Western New York Chapter 8 is still going strong.
Please trust your students. If you are clear about what you expect from them and they understand and know their dances, there is no need to stand in the wings and vigorously perform the dances. This distracts the dancers and makes it hard for them to concentrate, which prevents them from performing at their best.
NOMINATED BY: Paula Showman Bridges, daughter: “I would like to nominate Thelma Showman. An extraordinary woman and teacher, she has touched thousands of lives. She officially retired two years ago but, at 96, still teaches her Showman Showoffs class for adult ladies and classes in tap and ballet.”
Fourteen-year-old ballet dancer and blogger Julia Bluhm twisted some knickers in the fashion media world recently, mobilizing social-media forces to confront Seventeen magazine about its use of Photoshopped models. In a New York Times interview Bluhm explained that it all started because so many girls in her ballet class complained about being fat.
How do dance teachers stay sound and healthy enough to demonstrate safely after they stop dancing full time? It’s tricky business. We take for granted the flexibility and strength acquired throughout our performing and early teaching days. But all too often our bodies let us know that after all those years, they need more attention.
If you want to be successful, says Chade-Meng Tan, retrain your brain. It’s as simple as this: if we let our emotions rule us, we are, Meng (as he’s called) says, letting the horse drag us instead of being in command. Meng, an engineer and the author of Search Inside Yourself, is now Google’s official “Jolly Good Fellow,” and the book is an evolution of a course he taught there. (Look for him on YouTube, giving talks at Google and TED on this topic.)
Henry Ford once said, “If there is one thing which I would banish from the earth it is fear.”
Homework! Understand the history and the styles. Studying old films is a great way to pick up moves and understand where they came from. Wild Style, a movie about hip-hop pioneers, is a must. Beat Street motivated me to breakdance and battle. Breakin’ is more of a commercial film but has some great popping—Turbo and Ozone rocked it out! The Freshest Kids, one of my favorites on hip-hop history, is an essential hip-hop tool.
Yield and Push. By studying developmental movement patterns, which take place in utero and during the early months of life, we have discovered the necessity of yielding to and bonding with gravity and then pushing through every point of contact to the earth. Yielding establishes an active give-and-take relationship with gravity and a readiness to move. Pushing sends energy from the earth along open pathways of flow through the joint centers to the body’s core.
Tip 1 When dancers reach the advanced level, it is always helpful to introduce a “show and tell” exercise that gets them used to adding 8 counts of their own steps to small pieces of choreography. For example, one student might do flap flap cram proll, shuffle step heel stomp, shuffle step heel stomp; another might add riff back flap heel tap heel stamp, stomp back flap, stomp back flap stomp. Keep this going in a group with four or five kids and they will have made a dance in no time.
COLUMNS Ask Rhee Gold Advice for dance teachers 2 Tips for Ballet Teachers | Developing Trust By Mignon Furman 2 Tips for Hip-Hop Teachers | Watch and Learn By Geo Hubela 2 Tips for Modern Teachers | Energy Paths By Bill Evans 2 Tips for Tap Teachers | Amping It . . .