I need some advice on an extremely sad, unfortunate situation. As a member of Dance Masters of America, I uphold a code of ethics. I respect my colleagues and do my best to maintain a professional working relationship with everyone. Recently, though, a full-time teacher of four years at a local dance studio got arrested for multiple instances of lewd and lascivious acts with minors. One incident occurred at a dance convention. The studio owner knew about it and still kept this teacher on staff for several months. When the owner finally let her go, she still planned to have the teacher choreograph privately for the school’s competition team. My problem is that this has lowered morale and trust in dance studios and teachers.
I suppose we all knew it would come to this. The Mackay Daily Mercury in Queensland, Australia, ran a front-page story in October when a 10-year-old dancer was cut from a dance company performance due to missed rehearsals.
In this month’s issue we focus on jazz and hip-hop. As we were brainstorming about the content for the jazz section, I found my mind wandering back to the mid-1970s, when as teenagers, my twin brother, Rennie, and I would go with our mom to New York City to take classes from the jazz masters of the time. Many of those classes were with Luigi, who is featured in this issue.
For a certain generation of dance educators, feeling a teacher’s guiding hand on a leg, back, or even a rear end was often standard when they were students. That’s the way things used to be—a touch here, a tap there with a hand or stick were part of the usual learning experience for many dancers.
COLUMNS Ask Rhee Gold Advice for Dance Teachers 2 Tips for Ballet Teachers by Mignon Furman 2Tips for Hip Hop Teachers by Geo Hubela 2Tips for Modern Teachers by Bill Evans 2 Tips for Tap Teachers by Stacy Eastman A Better You | Fighting Fatigue by Suzanne Martin, PT, DPT . . .
For most of us, hula hooping is simply a fond memory from childhood. We certainly didn’t think those hours spent pushing ourselves to reach 100 consecutive swings around the waist would later become a part of our training as dancers.
During those long drives, Johnson’s creativity peaked, and she began thinking of ways to improve her teaching. At conventions she had noticed that dancers needed help remembering proper dance terminology, especially the tricky French words. She decided there had to be a better way to help young dancers learn basic vocabulary, which she referred to as “the ABCs of dance.” With that in mind, she developed a concept that would transform the way she taught dance.
Here’s an easy tool to help your young students (ages 3 to 7) look forward to coming to class: establish a “Dancer of the Day” program. This system of recognizing and giving special privileges to one dancer each day makes everyone eager to be in class because they never know when it will be their turn.
Teachers try to impress on students the importance of being on time for class. However, if students arrive early and simply text or chit-chat, we can redirect them in their use of time.
During an across-the-floor exercise in a jazz class one day, I realized that all the students (7- to 9-year-olds) were leaping with their upper bodies slanting forward.
The impact on students and their understanding of the relationship between dance and music is invaluable, says Nicholas Mishoe, co-director of Academy of Dance Arts in Red Bank, New Jersey, who uses accompanists for the studio’s ballet classes.
She’s disheveled, hides in the back of the classroom because she feels different from the other kids. Her leotard is always dirty, her bun is a mess, and she never smiles.
-As a teacher are you uncomfortable?
Walk into a dance studio and you’ll see that little about it, from the mirrors to the barres and the bare wood or linoleum floor, has changed in decades, even centuries—save, perhaps, for a CD or Mp3 player in the corner replacing or joining the piano. Walk into Kathleen Isaac’s dance studio in Queens, though, and it looks like she went on a shopping spree at Best Buy: cameras, laptops, cords, video monitors, tripods, iPhones, and sundry other “e-toys” abound.
Last Saturday, DLTV went to the Gold School to shoot some of the baby classes. I decided to take some still pics of some of the youngest children . . . this is one that I couldn’t resist sharing. Enjoy–Rhee
She referred to another teacher in her town as a “Dolly Dinkle” teacher. All my life I’ve heard the term but I had never asked anyone what they meant by it—but this time I did.
Each week her dance teacher makes a snide remark that duplicates the atmosphere she has at home. She becomes even more intimidated, thinking that her dance teacher doesn’t like her. Even worse, she tells herself, “I stink at dance, too!” Before long she drops out of dance. Why go to dancing school to be berated when you can get that at home?
COLUMNS Ask Rhee Gold 2 Tips for Teachers A Better You On My Mind Teacher to Teacher EditorSpeak DEPARTMENTS Thinking Out Loud Mail Teacher in the Spotlight | Kim Lampp FEATURE ARTICLES Ballet Scene | Minding the Men by Theodore Bale As the Dance Teacher Turns by Julie Holt Lucia . . .
When I opened my school, my goal was to have my students compete, but I also wanted them to win. What can I do? —Marjorie
When I do my seminars, I always ask, “How many of you were the best dancer in your class?” In groups as large as 500, only one or two people raise their hands, and sometimes no one does.
Although I discourage using the word “lose,” it’s the best way to make my point. Some of the smartest and brightest people got that way from losing many of their battles. We learn from the losing process or by not getting what we want. It’s how we improve ourselves.
In my years as a teacher and studio owner, I have produced more than 27 year-end recitals and at least 16 full-length story ballets. If I have learned anything about the production part of the dance business, it is that it requires two important attributes: the ability to compromise and the ability to enjoy the humor in the things that can—and always will—go wrong.
“At least you didn’t find anything wrong with my ears!” If you hear a reaction like this to criticism, you may have just lost a customer. You want to bring out the best in your students by offering enough criticism so that they improve—but not criticize so much, or so harshly, that they lose self-confidence, withdraw, or defect to other schools. Striking that balance is one of the hardest tasks that you face as a dance school director or instructor.
They come in with hopes and expectations. Enamored of the pink slippers and the possibility of someday wearing a tutu, these little girls glimmer with light in their eyes and dreams in their heads. Their parents, too, carry hopes and dreams. Maybe they secretly want them to curtsey at the Met or high kick on Broadway, or, more plainly, they just want their children to find a friend and fit in.
As dance educators, our dream is to have classes of students who are all eager to learn, who have the same drive, desire, and willingness to work, and who are perfectly balanced in age and ability. Dream on!
Colleges across the country have distributed course syllabuses to their students at the beginning of each semester probably since Harvard opened its doors in 1636. A syllabus, whether on paper or online, serves as a road map for students, a blueprint for faculty members, and a guide for individual teachers to achieve the common goal of understanding and learning.
Each fall they enter the dance studio, faces full of fake confidence or sheer panic. Some arrive for class 30 minutes early; some run in late, in breakdown mode because of morning alarm malfunctions. New leotards, pink tights, some sparkles somewhere, intact ballet shoes, some still sporting a color other than pink (probably leftover from a matched recital costume). They have arrived. The new recruits. The freshmen class of ’0?
Over the years I have become attached to a handful of inspirational sayings that I like to share with my students. I have posted a few of them on my studio walls, where they have remained for years; I write others on the classroom mirrors and rotate them as needed. Since I have been repeating most of them for so long that I can no longer remember their sources, I send a sincere thank-you to their originators.
“Do you give private lessons?” That’s a question that prospective clients often ask—are you prepared to answer it? Most studio owners have no trouble setting schedules, pricing, and dress codes for their schools, and they routinely hand out that information when new students walk in the door. But they may be much less clear in their thinking about private lessons. Setting up a policy about private lessons, and then publicizing it to your clientele, can boost your school’s income and provide students with an added incentive to work their hardest.
Music is vital equipment for dance teachers and choreographers, both in the classroom and onstage. A basic understanding of music theory is a powerful tool that allows us to get the most out of the music we use.
It’s the rare 14-year-old who decides to quit studying the violin and start taking ballet classes. It wouldn’t be too uncommon for that teenager to decide to study watercolor painting, but dance is usually started at a young age.