On My Mind

December 2011 | On My Mind

One night when I was out with a friend, he asked me who or what inspired me to do what I do. Immediately I began to rattle off all of the names of people who I feel were and are my mentors. On the ride home I thought about his question, and my answer, a bit more.

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November 2011 | On My Mind

How do you decide which of your students get to participate in dance competitions? Your answer reveals a lot about your definition of winning and the reasons why you take your students to competitions.

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October 2011 | My Mind

“I got lucky last night.” That’s what I saw posted on a dance teacher’s Facebook page recently. Certainly I believe in freedom of speech, but dance teachers’ responsibility as mentors to children, teens, and the community takes priority, and that means they shouldn’t share details about their personal life with the world.

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September 2011 | On My Mind

Hypocrisy is something that I have a hard time dealing with. It comes with judgment, and I think we can really deter our own success by judging others.

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August 2011 | On My Mind

In this column last February, I wrote about my vision to create a retreat center for dance educators. It had been a dream for me since I launched Project Motivate in 1998

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July 2011 | On My Mind

July marks the seventh anniversary of Dance Studio Life, and it also brings my 50th birthday, which has led me to reminisce about my dance journey.

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May-June 2011 | On My Mind

How do we achieve success? For most of us, it doesn’t come easily. We need to know what we want to accomplish and then stay focused, heading in that direction and leaving no stone unturned.

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March-April 2011 | On My Mind

Imagine a room full of enthusiastic people representing teacher organizations from the private and higher-ed sectors of the dance world, along with dance teachers who work in academic schools.

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February 2011 | On My Mind

About 17 years ago I went to a personal-growth seminar called “Happiness Is a Choice.” It was held at The Option Institute in Sheffield, Massachusetts, in the beautiful Berkshires.

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January 2011 | On My Mind

Looking back at the inception of Dance Studio Life and the entities now associated with it, including the conferences, seminars, and DanceLifeTV.com, I am humbled by the growth of these ventures and thankful for the support of so many dance people from throughout the world.

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December 2010 | On My Mind

Each goal we accomplish, in our personal lives and as dance teachers and school owners, bumps up our personal satisfaction meter by a degree or two. I’m proud to say I’m familiar with that feeling of accomplishment.

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November 2010 | On My Mind

At a recent Project Motivate seminar I ran into a school owner who had not been to any kind of continuing education event for more than 20 years.

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October 2010 | On My Mind

About two years ago I met Susan Rizzo Vincent, the founder of The Andréa Rizzo Foundation. Susan started the organization in memory of her daughter, Andréa, who survived childhood cancer but was killed at age 24 by a drunk driver.

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September 2010 | On My Mind

I’d like to tell you a story about the importance of remembering your dance roots.
Mary is a professional dancer who has built a career as a performer and choreographer on the international dance scene.

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August 2010 | On My Mind

I’m flying high after returning from the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. For those of you who believe that our country doesn’t put enough emphasis on the value of the arts, you would have been proud to see the happenings in the wonderful city of Jackson.

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July 2010 | On My Mind

For thousands of teachers and school owners, the start of summer is a time to brainstorm, to plot and dream about everything they want to achieve during the upcoming dance season. It’s a time to look back on the lessons of the past year—some learned the hard way and others in a flash, those light-bulb moments that make us wonder why we didn’t think of that idea years ago. It’s through the live-and-learn process that we become better at what we do.

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May-June 2010 | On My Mind

At my seminars, I always tell the attendees that it isn’t the number of their students who move on to professional careers or awards they have won that determine their success as teachers. Instead, it’s the impact they have on the average student in their classrooms. Teachers are most effective when they recognize that all children deserve to feel special, whether or not they are the most talented. I have always believed that it’s possible to instill a passion for the art of dance in every child, regardless of the level of dance achieved.

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March-April 2010 | On My Mind

In today’s nonstop world, doing too much seems to have become the norm. And it’s easy to get so caught up in the whirlwind that you don’t notice that you’re stretched too thin. For me, that realization came at the start of last summer. My to-do lists were so long that just looking at them made me feel stressed. I was working at a mile-a-minute pace to get everything done, which took the joy out of the process and didn’t give me enough time to appreciate the successes.

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February 2010 | On My Mind

There are many ways to measure success in the dance education field. Some people might see a degree in dance as true success. For others, it might be owning a school with 500 students or training many dancers who move on to professional careers. Still others measure it by the awards their students have won at competitions. For many teachers and school owners, success isn’t about the business; instead, it’s completely personal, like having a well-balanced dance and family life.

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January 2010 | On My Mind

I was first exposed to dance as a toddler during the 1960s, and at that time most private schools offered only ballet and tap, though some offered acrobatics as well. But by the late 1960s, jazz dance had begun to sweep the nation. Throughout the 1970s teachers flocked to intensives, conventions, and training schools to learn from jazz masters who were (and still are) known simply by their first names: Gus, Luigi, and Matt. Soon jazz classes became a staple at schools throughout the United States and the world. Looking back, I think dance people wanted more freedom to feel the music and the movement. Jazz was it!

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December 2009 | On My Mind

I’ve got a couple of things on my mind this month. First, in October I journeyed to Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, to serve as a keynote speaker for the Australian Teachers of Dance. A few days before I left on my 26-hour flight, the reality that I would be speaking on the other side of the world hit me. I felt a little unsure of myself, which, when it comes to public speaking, has not happened to me in a long time.

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On My Mind | November 09

I’ve been thinking about the issues of respect and credibility among dance teachers. Is the teacher who produces phenomenal ballerinas more credible than the teacher who produces the best hip-hop dancers? Is the teacher in small-town America less passionate than the teacher in big-city America? My thought is that all dance teachers pass on the gifts of dance in the most appropriate way for them. They share a common goal and I don’t judge how they do it.

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On My Mind | October 09

The stunning image on this month’s cover has a message behind it. It conveys how art, in all its forms, crosses the boundaries of joy and sadness in every aspect of our lives—in this case, the personal struggles of so many women who have battled with breast cancer. The image, created by photographer Curtis Brown, was part of a gallery exhibit and YouTube video called “Weight of the Ribbon,” from which half the proceeds of print, postcard, and DVD sales went to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

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On My Mind | September 09

In August of 1994 my mom, Sherry Gold, lost her battle with cancer. Her school was set to open for the season in less than two weeks, so not only did my brother Rennie and I face having to carry on a 30-year legacy, we had to make the transition quickly. It was not easy; we were dealing with lots of raw emotions. With each decision, I can remember thinking, “How would Mom do this?”

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On My Mind | August 09

They don’t perform grand leaps, not one fouetté turn nor a single pirouette, and there’s no flash at all. Yet you watch them with your mouth open, while that head-to-toe body chill takes over your full being for a few moments as you settle into the greatness before your eyes.

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On My Mind | July 09

Many school owners are experiencing a bit of trepidation about how the economy might affect registration for the fall season. This year, the customer loyalty that you’ve developed will be more important than ever. If you can hang on to most of last year’s enrollment (and hopefully add to it), the upcoming season should be a successful one.

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On My Mind | May/June 09

Well, for the last few months it’s been DanceLifeTV.com. This new venture started so simply, in one of those “Someday I would like to . . . ” dreaming sessions with a friend of mine, Mikeal Knight. Like me, Mikeal grew up in a dance school owned by his mom, so we have a lot in common. He’s a dancer who happens to have a passion for making film, so over many days of brainstorming (and a couple of martinis) we came up with the concept for DanceLifeTV.com.

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On My Mind | March/April 09

Maureen opened a school many years ago, instilling in hundreds of children the passion for dance. She was making a comfortable living, raising her children, and her school was growing. Then one day Sandy, a lead faculty member and one of Maureen’s former students, became upset with one of her boss’ new policies. Without hesitation, Sandy and her parents opened a school up the street from Maureen, enrolling the majority of the students Sandy had taught at Maureen’s school.

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On My Mind | Feb 09

Last year, after I sent out an email to promote the 2008 DanceLife Teacher Conference, I received the following response: “I’ve been teaching dance for 20 years—what more is there to learn?” I wrote back and politely expressed my opinion that no dance teacher should ever cease to learn because dance is an always-evolving art form. This teacher decided to attend the conference, and afterward she wrote again, explaining that she felt overwhelmed with all that she had learned and was excited to get back to her classroom to teach all the new curriculum ideas she had discovered. She added that it was her intention to go to some sort of continuing-education event every month from then on, because she had never been so inspired in all the time she had been teaching.

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On My Mind | Jan. 09

All of us, as dance teachers, whether we teach at a university or local community center, in a small town or big city school, share a certain instinctive understanding. We understand the difference that our art makes in life—our own and others’—because we have all lived it. We identify with the feeling of being lost in the spirit of the music and the movement. It is common knowledge that in performance, and sometimes even in the classroom, we don’t feel our bodies’ aches or pains, don’t feel the sweat dripping into our eyes, because dance just feels so good that nothing else matters. No distraction can interrupt this special passion.

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On My Mind | December 2008

By the time you read this the November election will be behind us and we will have come to terms with what a new president means for this country. Along with the many truths that have surfaced during the arduous two years of the campaign is the evidence that ethical behavior is far more rare in the world than we’d like it to be.

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On My Mind | November 2008

It’s time for our annual recital issue, and I think you’ll love this one—it’s packed with great information and new ideas. And though I’m sure that’s what you’re expecting me to write about this month, I’ve got something even more important than recitals on my mind right now.

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On My Mind | October 2008

What makes a good dance educator? It’s a question I’ve been pondering lately. The answer, in my opinion, is: humble, nonjudgmental, hard working, and doing it for the good of the art and the education. But periodically, I run into dance educators of the not-so-humble and oh-so-judgmental variety.

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On My Mind | September 2008

Several weeks ago I hosted a national dance competition for some old friends. It had been five years since my last national competition experience, so I didn’t know what to expect. But as I sat in the host chair, I was pleasantly surprised. The caliber of talent and creativity was better than I expected, and I love to see young dancers with an obvious passion for our art. They were abundant at this event.

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On My Mind | August 2008

Ahhh! A new season is in the works—and so are all those ridiculous phone and email inquiries from the parents of “exceptional” children. Here’s one of my favorites: “My 3-year-old does all the dances with the contestants on So You Think You Can Dance—it’s like she has already been dancing for 10 years! Do you have an advanced class for 3-year-olds?” And here’s another one I’ll never forget: “We just put a jungle gym in the backyard, where my daughter, who is 6, has been swinging and flipping herself all day, every day for the last couple of weeks. I know that she has the potential to be an Olympic gymnast. Can she take class with the 12-year-olds because she already has all the basics she needs?”

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On My Mind | July 2008

It’s July, and at Dance Studio Life, that means it’s time for business—a business theme, that is. Planning the content for this issue and seeing the pages come together made me start thinking about my own business. Yes, this magazine is one, though I don’t always think of it that way. It’s more of a labor of love. And maybe that description has more power behind it than we realize.

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On My Mind | May-June 2008

“Toy Boy on the left, give me a real contraction, and keep your feet parallel!” yelled Gus Giordano during a class at his studio. “Toy Boy” was either my twin brother, Rennie, or me—Gus could never tell us apart, so he simply referred to us with that all-purpose nickname, identifying the object of his attention at the moment by who was on the right or the left. That was cool with me, because this man, this teacher, this legend was bigger than life to me and he could call me anything he wanted to.

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On My Mind | March-April 2008

When I was about 11, I complained of being bored. My mother’s response was, “Go sit under a tree and write something.” Frankly, I thought that was a stupid way to fill my time; I was hoping that she would take me to the beach or a movie. But I did go sit under a tree, and I wrote something. I can’t remember what I wrote about, but I never forgot that day. It was the beginning of my interest in writing.

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On My Mind | January 2008

“You’re an artistic genius! How do you come up with an idea like that?” “Motivated to be different” is the motto of the teacher who choreographed the piece that everyone is raving about. She’s the one who doesn’t want to be like anyone else or follow the current trends in choreography. Tricks like grabbing a leg and yanking it behind the head (often, unfortunately, with a turned-in supporting leg) are nowhere to be found in her art. The even bigger feats like fouetté turns or multiple jumps are not in her choreographic vocabulary. Yet she continues to awe audiences, judges, and even the choreographers who pepper their dance numbers with tricks.

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On My Mind | December 2007

What does the holiday season mean to dance teachers? For many the Nutcracker season is in full swing, while others are rehearsing for that special holiday performance. Some are frantically getting their costume orders together and others are locked in their studios trying to get their competition choreography looking halfway decent before the first time out. For these teachers, the few days they will have off this holiday season won’t come quickly enough—or last long enough.

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On My Mind | November 2007

Where did they go? You remember them—those things people used to call “tights.” Most girls wore them onstage or in class to give them a clean line and to keep their butts, thighs, and other body parts from jiggling. They seem to have become a thing of the past, or close to it.

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On My Mind | October 2007

How long has it been since you caught your reflection in the mirror and thought about how happy you are just to be you?

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On My Mind

There aren’t many topics within the dance community that provoke such passionate opinions as the debate about competition. Some believe it’s the best thing that ever happened to the dance world and others whole-heartedly believe it’s appalling.

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On My Mind

Here we go again! As we enter a new season of dance education, Dance Studio Life brings you the highly acclaimed annual season-opener issue, in which we explore all kinds of ideas to help you begin the season on the right foot.

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On My Mind

As a teenager, I remember overhearing a group of dance teachers at a dance convention get all fired up about the recent rumor they had heard about another dance teacher (who was not there, of course).

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