Columns

March-April 2017 | 2 Music Tips for Dance Teachers | The Ballets Russes and Petrushka

by Nina Pinzarrone

The great modernist composer Igor Stravinsky first intended Petrushka as a concert piece for piano and orchestra. At Serge Diaghilev’s urging, he instead wrote music and (with Alexandre Benois) libretto for a one-act dance drama in four “tableaux” portraying traditional Russian puppet theater. The resulting score was electrifying—but difficult for the dancers to count.

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March-April 2017 | 2 Tips for Hip-Hop Teachers | Classic ’90s Hip-Hop: The Reebok

by Samara Atkins

Tip 1: The 1990s offered a fresh take on urban culture. The music, clothing, and messages were loud; the movement was big, colorful, and “hype.” To me, the expressive moves of classic ’90s style are still the pinnacle of hip-hop.

Tip 2: Imagery can be helpful when you’re breaking down a compound move. With the Reebok, I like to use the image of a door closing and opening.

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March-April 2017 | 2 Tips for Tap Teachers | Finishing Touches

by Thelma Goldberg

Tip 1: Getting a tap routine ready for performance is like putting frosting on a cake. The ingredients have been organized and laid out, and now it’s time to concentrate on the final details: making it look and (in tap’s case) sound great.

Tip 2: Tap is a full-bodied dance form, and the upper body can express rhythm just as clearly as the feet can make sounds.

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March-April 2017 | EditorSpeak

“The Rights Stuff: Who Owns Choreography?” by Karen White: There I was, in another conversation about who owns choreography, the teacher or the studio. Sometimes I think this issue will never go away, doomed to be debated forever by two clans glaring at each other over an immovable fence.

“Cycles of Inspiration” by Thom Watson: There are days when I really love my job. For this issue, for example, I exercised editor-in-chief privilege to assign myself the delightful task of interviewing several of my favorite choreographers and master teachers for a feature story, “Cool & Contemporary.”

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March-April 2017 | On My Mind

by Rhee Gold

Just as I admire school owners for working together to improve dance education, I have always respected UDMA’s ability to unite some of the largest and most respected vendors in the industry. Together these vendors donate thousands of dollars for National Dance Week, offer continuing education seminars for teachers and school owners, and produce the largest American trade show in the field.

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February 2017 | 2 Music Tips for Dance Teachers | The Ballets Russes: Polovtsian Dances and Scheherazade

by Nina Pinzarrone

Tip 1: In the 1950s, composer-lyricists Robert Wright and George Forrest adapted many of these pieces for their musical Kismet; for example, the lilting 4/4 “Gliding Dance of the Maidens” became “Stranger in Paradise.” I like to use this piece for a barre or center fondu, stretch, port de bras, or adagio, or for a lilting women’s dance in character class.

Tip 2: For Scheherazade, Fokine used Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, op. 35—an 1888 suite based on stories from The Arabian Nights. This suite contains wonderful material for creative movement and character classes.

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February 2017 | 2 Tips for Hip-Hop Teachers | Playing with Tempo Changes

by Samara Atkins

Tip 1: When you’re building up choreographic phrases, repetition is key to students’ understanding of the sequencing. Repeating a section several times, breaking down the more difficult moves as you go, helps students remember what you’re teaching.
Tip 2: Playing with tempo changes is also helpful once you’ve taught the entire phrase.

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February 2017 | EditorSpeak

“Safe and Sound” by Heather Turbeville: In December, I started physical therapy for my hip. It wasn’t my first time in PT; it wasn’t even the first time I went for my hip. But it was the first time I told my physical therapist, “It bothers me in dance class—but I’m not going to stop dancing.”

“Remembering Debbie Reynolds” by Thom Watson: When Debbie Reynolds appeared in her first leading film role as Kathy Selden in the 1952 musical classic Singin’ in the Rain—at age 19—she had been studying dance only a few months.

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February 2017 | On My Mind

by Rhee Gold

Creating choreography is an opportunity to be an artist, to make a statement, or to entertain. An audience, except perhaps for dance teachers or judges, isn’t generally impressed with spectacular feats; the average audience member doesn’t even know the difficulty of a given move. However, an audience always responds positively to performances that elicit an emotional response or provoke thought.

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February 2017 | 2 Tips for Ballet Teachers | B-Plus and Gut Check

by David Arce

Tip 1: Remind students to take their time moving into B-plus, making sure to plié generously and present a fully turned-out heel before straightening the standing leg.

Tip 2: The circular port de bras, toward and away from the barre, is important for all students to practice, as it develops strength, flexibility, and musicality.

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January 2017 | EditorSpeak

“Studios as Safe Spaces” by Tamsin Nutter: No teacher can fix the world for her kids. Still, we adults owe it to children to be our best selves for them, and with them. We owe them love and safety. We owe them our protection.

“Inherent Value” by Karen White: How many of your studio’s alumni studied dance in college or went on to professional dance careers?

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January 2017 | On My Mind

by Rhee Gold

A new year is upon us, the time when we traditionally make resolutions about things we want to change about ourselves—lose a few pounds, read more, budget better, and so on. It’s a great opportunity for studio owners and dance teachers to resolve to change their professional lives for the better too. Here are my suggestions for you to adopt and share.

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January 2017 | 2 Tips for Tap Teachers | Making Tap Dances

Read 2 great tips for tap teachers from the legendary Thelma Goldberg, teacher and director of The Dance Inn in Lexington, Massachusetts, since 1983, who is the author of Thelma’s Tap Notes: A Step-by-Step Guide to Teaching Tap: Children’s Edition.

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January 2017 | 2 Tips for Ballet Teachers | Height and Control in Grand Jeté

by David Arce

Tip 1
The grand jeté is one of ballet’s most rewarding steps, for both the audience and the dancer. The ability to propel oneself from one foot into the air, reach a perfect split, then land on the other foot, all while showing grace and ease in the upper body, is a hallmark of excellent ballet technique.

Tip 2
Don’t overlook the grand jeté’s landing; in terms of student safety, it is the step’s most important aspect. Properly turned out placement of the standing leg is a must, as any turning in puts extra stress on the knee’s tendons.

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December 2016 | EditorSpeak

“Artistry: Mystery vs Transparency” by Cheryl A. Ossola: Frederick Wiseman’s 1995 film Ballet is a unique perspective on the lives of artists, and in remembering it, I thought about the conversations teachers might have with students—conversations about artistry, how we perceive it, and what enhances or impairs those perceptions.

“Never Stop Dancing” by Tamsin Nutter: The hours I spend sitting at a desk make me feel creaky; a recent “big birthday” turned my thoughts to using my life stages wisely and well. Perhaps that’s why Keep Dancing, a lovely 2010 film portrait of then-90-year-old dance icons Marge Champion and Donald Saddler, has been on my mind.

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