There are countless intangible benefits to being a dance teacher, including being a mentor, having a positive influence on students, creating, expressing yourself through movement, and introducing children to the joy of dance. But there are practical issues to contend with when choosing this path—a traditionally low-paying one that offers few full-time, benefited opportunities—as a career.
A typical dance school year provides a feast of opportunities for images that you can use to convey the personality and professionalism of your school. And who’s better positioned to record them than yourself? Because you’re a familiar face, your young subjects may be less self-conscious than if they were being photographed by an outsider. Also, you’re there every day, which improves your chances of recording the kind of wonderful, unscripted events that arise around the studio or the beauty captured in a formal photo shot.
My children have learned to embrace dance and how to put it to use in their everyday life. The studio is their second home. I am happy knowing that is where they want to be in their free time; that is all because of her. She is dramatic—aren’t all dance teachers?—but at the same time she recognizes when a child needs to be given a hug because maybe her day did not go so well. She knows each and every child and all of their quirks.”
This month we zero in on creativity, which immediately brings to mind the artistic aspects of dance education. But creativity is a state of mind that can flow into all areas of life, including our attitudes toward our businesses. Being creative means being open to possibilities and exploring options. So let’s look at how that mind-set can play out in these imaginary scenarios involving two studio owners.
Challenge the core. To build students’ core strength in each class, have them do the yoga “plank” with weight on the forearms. Tell them to hollow the abdomen (exhaling to bring the navel closer to the spine) and maintain this form for at least 30 seconds. As they become stronger, encourage them to place one hand at a time behind the back and then to lengthen one leg at a time until the foot leaves the floor. Incorporating these into longer movement phrases with music allows students to experience them as dancing rather than exercises.
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.
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.
DanceLife Teacher Conference contemporary teacher Derrick Yanford has been lending a helping hand this month to his fellow New York City citizens struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
In the November issue of Dance Studio Life magazine, SUNY Brockport professor Don Halquist shares his thoughts on teaching students how to layer their own passion, their own emotions, and their personal uniqueness on the choreography they have been taught in class or for performance.
Dance Studio Life magazine wouldn’t be filled with all the insightful and inspirational stories it is without the generosity of teachers and studio owners from across the country who agree to share their stories with DSL and its readers.
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.
We’ve all experienced it: feeling exhausted and overwhelmed to the point where we can hardly bring ourselves to care anymore. Burnout.
Studios use guest teachers for a dance bag’s worth of reasons.
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 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.
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.”
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 cramproll, 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.
Do you know about all the ways you can keep in touch with Rhee Gold and all that’s happening at the Rhee Gold Company?
Now that the hectic registration rush is done and kids are settled in their classes, many teachers turn their attention to competition season—and Dance Studio Life is here to help.
Dance teachers and studio owners know the DanceLife Teacher Conference is about more than technique and studio talk—it’s also coming face-to-face with the business and service people who keep the dance studio industry rolling.
Roni Mahler learned some of her first lessons in ballet from the renowned Madame Maria Yurieva Swoboda, then expanded her knowledge as a dancer with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, American Ballet Theatre, and National Ballet of Washington (DC).
Misty Lown has the optimism, enthusiasm, and imagination to handle 700 dance students, five kids, several businesses, and a side job as a writer—and do it all successfully and with a smile.
Next summer, teachers and studio owners will be able to share master modern teacher and esteemed educator Bill Evans’ wisdom first-hand at the DanceLife Teacher Conference, August 1 to 4, at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Evans, who has earned the Guggenheim Fellowship, numerous fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence and Achievement in the Arts, will be teaching technique classes and leading seminars at DLTC.
Each month, DSL’s Strength in Numbers feature pays tribute to a dance teacher organization. Through pictures and illustrations, the feature explains why the group was founded and by whom, how it has grown over the years, and what sorts of services and education opportunities it affords members.
Choreographer and dance teacher Peter Chu will participate in the 24 Seven Dance Convention, a tour of two-day workshops for aspiring dancers ages 5 to 19 that will visit 15 cities across the United States in 2012-13, culminating with a national dance competition in Las Vegas from July 14 to 19, 2013.
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 . . .
The Tap ‘n Arts Dance Studio in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is lending a helping hand to nearly 200 Louisiana dancers who lost their homes and belongings, including dance shoes, leotards, tights, and dance wear, during Hurricane Isaac.
Dance Studio Life contributor Misty Lown has created a non-profit scholarship foundation called A Chance to Dance at her studio, Misty’s Dance Unlimited, in Onalaska, Wisconsin.
Former Rockette and longtime dance instructor Alzine Straub Cuppett died August 24, just months after students and family members celebrated the 50th anniversary of her founding of the Cuppett Performing Arts Center in Vienna, Virginia, according to the Sun Gazette.
Observing students with a critical eye and responding with thoughtful feedback is something dance educators do in every class. You can let your students practice these skills as well by using So You Think You Can Dance as a format for a role-playing exercise for 10- to 13-year-olds.
Businesses create boards that educate and inspire, attracting new customers and keeping current ones talking.
The results are preliminary, but they’re a no-brainer to anyone involved in arts education. A study has found that “children that partake in music activity in a group setting are more prone to developing one of humankind’s noblest traits: empathy.”
I don’t want my students or their parents to believe that I am not offering them the best training I can, but I know they are getting from my school what they need. And I know this girl should move on. Are my teachers right?
As I’m writing this, I’m heading into my fifth week of seminars at the DanceLife Retreat Center. And what I’ve discovered is that not only can dreams come true, but they can exceed our expectations.
It’s no secret that dance teachers often have long, grueling hours. Handling your own fatigue when you’re faced with a barrage of personalities, minor emergencies, and classroom challenges isn’t easy.
To introduce students to the advanced level, give combinations that involve intricate footwork and coordination skills. I often use a combo that is tricky yet fun for the kids to figure out.
Muscular strength is not the same thing as stability; flexibility is not the same as mobility. Clarity of form without resilience leads to rigidity; flexibility without grounding creates formlessness . . .
Tell your students not to wait for the 5-6-7-8 to move. I always encourage my students to freestyle or groove to the music before a combination begins.
Ballet vocabulary is often neglected. It helps to have young dancers understand the meaning of the French words because it gives them an image of what the step should be; for example, glissade (to glide), jeté (to throw), and assemblé (to assemble or bring together).
My mom has owned and operated her studio for 40 years. She has shared her passion for the art of dance with thousands of students and has always gone the extra mile for everyone.
While working a full-time job she managed to teach 12 classes a week as well as run the studio. Twelve classes soon became 15, and then 19, and so on.
Fremont resident and longtime Newark [CA] dance instructor Betty Gentry died May 6, family members confirmed this week to the Newark Patch. She was 87.
I am consistently amazed at the enthusiasm and determination Katie brings to every goal she envisions for the dance program. Her approach is student-centered, but with a keen understanding of the importance of the entire school community with regard to advancement of the arts.
Presidio Dance Theatre will celebrate the spring season with 2012 Dancing Across Cultures™, featuring a cast of multi-generational international artists and young dancers performing classical and folk dances from all corners of the globe, on June 1 at 7pm at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, 3301 Lyon Street, San Francisco, California.