Choreography: A Basic Approach Using Improvisation by Sandra Cerny Minton The fourth edition of this book contains new and updated materials and tools to help students develop their choreographic skills, from coming up with an idea to staging a performance. Includes expanded movement explorations and a new web resource with 23 video clips to help…Read More
Advice for Dance Teachers Dear Rhee, What is the best time of the year to search for new teachers? I’m looking for someone to start in the fall. Is it too soon to post an ad? I’m thinking the sooner the better, so that the teachers I hire can make any plans they need. Also,…Read More
by Thelma Goldberg Cramp rolls are useful both in class to strengthen small footwork and in choreography. With recital season on the horizon, here are some tips for using them: Begin with clean quarter notes. Dancers should shift weight correctly and separate their sounds. A favorite three-sound pattern for beginners is the press cramp roll,…Read More
Montana dance festival has global reach by Bonner Odell The snow-capped mountains surrounding Missoula, Montana, might seem like a surprising backdrop to a dance festival featuring some of the world’s most elite dancers and teachers. But Missoula is the birthplace of the Vienna International Ballet Experience USA (VIBE USA), which last year alone drew more…Read More
What’s up in the dance community Gemze de Lappe, who championed Agnes de Mille’s choreography both as a dancer and coach, died of pneumonia November 11, 2017, in Manhattan, according to the New York Times. She was 95. In 1943 de Lappe was cast in the first national tour of Oklahoma!; she went on to…Read More
The modern dance classes I took as a child started with every dancer taking a turn in the circle, improvising to whatever word the teacher called out—red, bumblebee, wooden. I loved it. In high school, I improvised a 30-second or so solo at winter guard competitions, flag and all. But now, the word “improvisation” and…Read More
Rhiannon Archerelle’s Ballet Concepts class reframes classical training by Mary Ellen Hunt Initially, Rhiannon Archerelle’s Ballet Concepts class—which weaves together several strands of dance education, including history, anatomy, somatic practice, improvisation, and choreography—was designed to engage students who didn’t particularly enjoy taking ballet. Archerelle, 39, first developed the class while she was teaching at The…Read More
Your recital may be over, but don’t bury it just yet by Tiffany R. Jansen Pulling off a successful recital feels great, but there is nearly always room for improvement. That’s why it’s a good idea to break down your most recent recital shortly after it’s done to determine what worked, what didn’t, and how…Read More
by Sandi Duncan Once upon a time, we were the cool teachers. We created cutting-edge choreography and classes and felt on top of our game. But as time has passed and we’ve aged oh so gracefully, new trends have emerged in our field, leaving many of us scratching our heads and wondering how to keep…Read More
Advice for dance teachers | Choreographer Contracts Dear Rhee, Off and on for many years, our studio has brought in master teachers to create choreography for our competitive students. This year a choreographer set a fantastic routine on a large group of our older students. The total expense for this was more than $4,000, including…Read More
Advice for dance teachers | Retaining Recital Choreography Dear Rhee, What are your strategies to help students retain recital choreography? This year was especially hard, which resulted in a lot of stress for my students and me. I know I must be missing some tricks of the trade. Any expertise is appreciated. —Mikala Hi Mikala,…Read More
Onscreen, on the page, and online The Nutcracker produced by New York City Ballet and illustrated by Valeria Docampo Ballet and picture book lovers, rejoice! New York City Ballet presents The Nutcracker, a 2016 children’s book featuring the beloved story, which is told for the first time using George Balanchine’s quintessential production as inspiration. The…Read More
The Emory University Dance and Movement Studies Program focuses on contemporary modern dance, emphasizing improvisation, choreography, and performance through a somatically based curriculum.Read More
“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.”Read More
In Sweet Briar’s dance program, students explore creative expression while gaining practical experience. For more than 40 years, the program has drawn on traditional and modern dance techniques and newer styles such as aerial, with an emphasis on and intensive training in choreography.Read More
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.
by Bonner Odell
A fusion of dance, martial arts, and healing arts, Nia is a cardio fitness technique performed barefoot to music from around the world. Through a mix of simple choreography and guided improvisation, Nia instructors emphasize sensation and internal experience over outward aesthetics in an effort to cultivate awareness of one’s body, mind, emotions, and life as a whole.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
by Constance Hale
Native Hawaiians often express their way of learning in a neat trio of verbs: ho‘onana, ho‘olohe, ho‘opili (“watch,” “listen,” “imitate”). Whatever the craft, the idea is the same: find a master, open your eyes and ears, and if you don’t get it quite right, trust your teacher to correct you.Read More
Established more than 80 years ago, Florida State University School of Dance provides students with a high level of dance training and encourages intellectual exploration through a comprehensive liberal arts curriculum. The school offers BFA and MFA degrees with a focus on performance and choreography, MA degrees in studio and related studies as well as American dance studies, and a new, combined BFA/MA five-year degree. Graduates have become leaders in the field as performers, choreographers, artistic directors, teachers, and scholars.Read More
Teaching musicality can be harder than teaching moves. An especially difficult skill is “sitting in the pocket,” stretching a move to fill the space (or pocket) between counts. Mastering this skill (also called “finding the groove” or “riding out the beat”) is important to hip-hop’s style, flow, and execution.
To help students learn this skill, vary your intonation when counting, drawn out where students should sit in the pocket and sharp where they should end it: “Ooone, twooo. . . ” or “Ooone, two! Threee, four!”
Spins or turns are great “punctuation” elements to introduce into students’ vocabularies. Spins can accent a specific beat or the end of a phrase, and they look cool, whether in choreography or freestyle. There are many turns you can teach to add dynamic motion to students’ dancing.
Pencil turns are another good accent. Begin with feet shoulder-width apart, arms loosely at the sides. Bend the knees, jump the feet together and wrap the arms tightly around the torso to create momentum, and spin the body 360 degrees in either direction. Spin up on both toes, keeping weight distributed between the feet. Tell students to look as narrow as possible, as if squeezing into a tight space.