August 2015 | 2 Tips for Modern & Contemporary Teachers | Focal Points and Weight Shifts

Photo by Ingrid Werthmann

Help your dancers remember the material, even when facings change or more complex spatial patterns are introduced, by encouraging them to find a focal point in the room for each direction.

Helping your students identify their weight shifts aids them in defining the quality of their movement.

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August 2015 | 2 Tips for Hip-Hop Teachers | Hand Styles and Backslide

Photo by Bill H

Hands play a major role in hip-hop dance and can say a lot about a dancer, displaying personality and performance style, showing confidence, and telling a story.

To teach the backslide, have students start with their weight on the left leg. The right knee is bent with the heel raised and the ball of the foot planted.

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August 2015 | Think Eco

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Studio owners often search for ways to make their businesses more efficient and profitable. You can scrutinize your operations, policies, and processes for potential cost-saving improvements, certainly, but don’t forget to look at your physical surroundings. From water and electrical use to stocking the bathroom and overhauling communications, there are ways to both cut costs and do some planetary good.

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August 2015 | College Close-Ups | California Institute of the Arts

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The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) offers dance students a unique creative environment. As an internationally recognized conservatory for the performing and visual arts (dance, film, theater, visual art, music, and writing), CalArts has a philosophy that emphasizes the exploration of new paths beyond conventional boundaries.

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August 2015 | EditorSpeak

Photos by Chris Hardy

“Conquering Stage Fright”: In October, I watched my daughter suffer intense stage fright in her first show.

Deafening cheers. Phones flashing in the dark auditorium like crazed fireflies. Other kindergarteners smiled—mine looked stricken with terror. Would she faint or throw up? Afterward, she sobbed with disappointment. It wasn’t fun, her stomach hurt, she didn’t expect the noisy dark and blinding lights. Then I remembered that she’d frozen before: as a wedding flower girl, walking the gauntlet of a semi-dark hall thronged with cheering strangers.

“Hold the Flash”: Enough with the pirouettes and the pyrotechnics.

Yes, we’re all impressed with double-digit pirouette counts. Triple sauts de basque, hummingbird-fast entrechats, reverse-twisting, leg-splitting steps you can’t even begin to name—all of those make us gasp. But every time I go online I’m bombarded with videos of dancers performing superhuman physical feats. And it’s becoming tiresome.

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August 2015 | Lighting the Way

Em's Spotlight recitals can include everything from modern, jazz, and Broadway to clogging and Polynesian dance, all connected by an umbrella theme with a positive tone. Photos courtesy Em's Spotlight

“I don’t know a whole lot about dance.” That’s an unusual admission from a director of a multifaceted dance outreach program, but there is little that’s ordinary about Vicki Silverman and Em’s Spotlight.

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August 2015 | On My Mind

Photo by Mim Atkins

For most dance teachers, this time of year—the beginning of a new dance season—marks a fresh start. You’ll welcome back students who are growing up before your eyes, and you’ll see many new faces, students who will experience the excitement of dance for the first time.

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August 2015 | Teacher in the Spotlight | Toni Zeakes Copeland

Photo by Sarah Clark

NOMINATED BY: Soozie Zeakes, daughter: “She is 75 and celebrating 60 years of teaching dance this year. She still goes to her studio every day, and she’s never stopped loving what she does. She’s touched too many young lives to count and now even has third-generation students at her studio. I’m proud of her accomplishments and marvel at her endurance.”

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August 2015 | Page Turners

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Books of note (new and not)
1. Like a Bomb Going Off: Leonid Yakobson and Ballet as Resistance in Soviet Russia
2. Dancing Through It: My Journey in the Ballet
3. A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina’s Dream
4. Irina Baronova and the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo

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August 2015 | Thinking Out Loud | Teaching Tradition

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I love the shared aliveness of the field of dance—the kinetic way we pass down our knowledge from person to person, class by class, articulating through body and voice all that we understand and feel. It is exciting to know that the generation of students I am teaching is absorbing information I gleaned from my own teachers. The dance family tree is rooted in oral tradition and information is passed down through direct interaction—both verbal and physical—between teachers and students.

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August 2015 | FYI

Performances by Heidi Latsky Dance promoted Dance/NYC's initiative to provide opportunities to disabled dancers. Photo by Arial Sneed

What’s up in the dance community
Chicago Dancers Help Their Own
Access to Dance for the Disabled
Joffrey Establishes an Endowment
A Ballet Barn Dance

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August 2015 | Quick-Change Artists

Masking and risers convert a studio at Motion Pacific Dance Studio into a stage equipped for aerial dance. Left photo by Crystal Birns, Right photo (insert) by Christina Neilsen

While many dance schools may set out folding chairs in a studio for informal student showings, some school owners have transformed their educational spaces into performance-ready theaters. While an in-studio performance space may sound like an ideal alternative to expensive theater rentals and seems to offer the flexibility of holding shows whenever the recital bug bites, building and maintaining a studio theater come with a variety of challenges and rewards. The owners and directors of five dance studios with convertible studio theaters provided a broad range of perspectives on the costs and benefits of an in-house performance space.

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August 2015 | Learning on Their Feet

Two students at Silvio O. Conte Community School have made it to the correct place on the Dancing Number Line, and another stands ready to begin at a Jacob's Pillow Curriculum in Motion residency program. Photo by David Dashiell

“Great ideas originate in the muscles.” So said Thomas Edison, not exactly a slouch in the science arena.

Researchers differ on the percentage of the population, ranging from 5 to 45 percent, for whom kinesthetic learning is the primary mode of learning. Nevertheless, students often combine this modality with auditory and visual comprehension, and children in particular seem to gravitate to kinesthetic learning. Educational theorists from Swiss developmental psychologist Jean Piaget to Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori understood the importance of tactile learning, particularly in primary and secondary education.

However, in academic environments the implementation of kinesthetic learning hasn’t been explored or utilized nearly as often as auditory and visual learning. To buck that trend, a growing number of dance educators are exploring how to use dance to teach academic subjects, such as mathematics, science, social studies, and language.

Finding an entryway to understanding mathematical, scientific, and other academic concepts through dance has become the focus of a number of U.S. schools.

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August 2015 | Temp Teachers

Photo by Scott Shaw

Back in the day, I clerked in a big Manhattan department store. Because I was young and quick and flexible, I was assigned to the “flying squad,” a group of clerks who could cover any counter if a regular called in sick, and immediately grasp what was necessary to assist customers.

The situation is more complex, and more tender, when the business at hand is teaching dance, especially to children. Finding a last-minute substitute can be tricky, especially in small studios with skeleton staffs. And kids don’t always react well to the sudden appearance of an unfamiliar face. Here to give some insights into smart strategies for handling absences are instructors from various parts of the country, at various levels, and on both sides of the “temp” equation.

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August 2015 | Bulletin Board: Pin, Post, and Share

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Click! What’s new online at the Rhee Gold Company
Dance in Time: August
Quotable: Dancers on Dance

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July 2015 | Teacher in the Spotlight | Anna Marie Leo

Photo by Ean Mosser

NOMINATED BY: Gail Skinner and Amelia Kinsolving, Leo’s lifelong friends and fellow teachers: “At the 2013 DanceLife Teacher Conference, we were amazed by the number of people who approached Miss Anna Marie to tell her what a great influence she had on them. At the age of 84—and as her studio enters its 64th year—Anna Marie continues to teach, always willing to share her talents with students and fellow studio owners alike.”

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July 2015 | EditorSpeak

Photo by Chris Hardy

“Balance: Beyond the Classroom”: What I do believe in is this: striving for wholeness and balance in every aspect of life. When we do that, we learn where to focus our self-confidence so that it yields the greatest results. If you’re like me, working toward wholeness and balance is an ongoing process, difficult to master. But I’ll keep striving for both.

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July 2015 | 2 Music Tips for Teachers | The Classical Period: Part 4

Photo courtesy Nina Pinzarrone

The polka was the second most important couple dance (after the waltz) in classical-period ballrooms. In 2/4 meter, the polka originated in Bohemia as a peasant dance.

Also in 2/4 meter, the galop, named after the running gait of a horse, is a lively country dance introduced in Paris at the Carnival of 1829 by the Duchesse de Berry.

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July 2015 | A Tree Dances in Alameda

Dance/10's owner, Pamm Drake, started choreographing holiday shows 40 years ago, and she still can't resist being a Tree. Photo courtesy Dance/10

Jan Yale hadn’t wanted to go to America’s Children’s Holiday Parade, but there she was, standing roadside in Oakland, California, when her ears caught the distinctive sound of taps. She turned to see lines of dancing Christmas trees—men and women, teens and adults, clad in shimmering green-and-white tree garb and clutching red-sequined top hats. With a sprightly time step and a shuffle ball change they passed her and launched into a sequence of precision kicks.

“They had me at the kick line,” says Yale, who chased them down the street to get an info postcard from a troupe representative. Yale was 63 when she joined the group the following fall, in 2009, and has been a member of The Tap Dancing Christmas TreesTM ever since.

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July 2015 | Bulletin Board: Pin, Post, and Share

Click! What’s new online at the Rhee Gold Company
Dance in Time: July
Quotable: Dancers on Dance

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July 2015 | Say What?

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Most dance teachers have to talk—a lot. You communicate regularly with children, parents, business associates, and adult learners, to name a few, and among them are the young, the old, the polite, the funny, the argumentative, and the easygoing. Some of that communication happens by email, texting, or social media, but when you’re in a dance studio your voice is all you’ve got. It has to be clear and it has to be heard.

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July 2015 | Bright Biz Idea | Primed for Success

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Next in our business series on opening a dance school, we cover the search for a location and facility. The questions that follow will guide prospective studio owners in the process of picking a location that works for their students and a facility that’s right for their business goals. We’ll hear from several studio owners about how they found their facilities and ways they saved money on start-up costs.

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July 2015 | The Dance Studio Life “Generous Heart” Awards

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Last year, for our 10th anniversary, we established a new annual tradition: the Dance Studio Life “Generous Heart” Awards. The people and organizations selected by publisher Rhee Gold and the editorial staff do important, innovative work in dance education and provide much-needed services to the dance community.

The criteria that define these Generous Hearts are simple: they are risk takers, community-minded, and devoted to a cause, a practice, a belief. They use dance in a way that contributes to the greater good. They are sources of inspiration to the dance world, and to the staff here at Dance Studio Life, and they prove that dance, when used to its full potential, can be a vital and transformative force.

We are delighted to honor this year’s recipients of the annual Dance Studio Life “Generous Heart” Awards, and we thank them for the good work they do.

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July 2015 | Moving Images

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Videos of note (new and not):
1. The Green Table
2. Miss Hill: Making Dance Matter
3. No Maps on My Taps
4. From Mambo to Hip Hop: A South Bronx Tale

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July 2015 | Page Turners

Books of note (new and not):

1. Swine Lake
2. Balancing Acts: Three Prima Ballerinas Becoming Mothers
3. Oxford Dictionary of Dance (2nd ed.)
4. Shall We Dance? The True Story of the Couple Who Taught the World to Dance

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July 2015 | FYI

What’s up in the dance community
Luigi: A Life of Influence and Inspiration
Renowned Teacher Maggie Black Dies

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July 2015 | 2 Tips for Tap Teachers | Teaching Musicality

Photo by Robert Rosen

Teaching students to respond to and connect with music is as important in tap as it is in other forms of dance. As tappers, our students are “joining the band,” and each sound they make adds to the overall musical arrangement.

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July 2015 | College Close-Ups | Hamilton College

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Hamilton College, a four-year liberal arts college in upstate New York, seeks to nourish in its students a love of learning, a creative spirit, and an informed and responsible engagement with an ever-changing world.

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May-June 2015 | On My Mind

Photo by Mim Adkins

Honest. Trustworthy. We all label ourselves with those words, and that’s a good start. Next up: having the integrity to prove them true.

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May-June 2015 | EditorSpeak

Photo by Chris Hardy

“Learning to Let Go”: Letting go is difficult. It takes time and wisdom (often someone else’s at first) to understand that we’re better off without those habits, that person, these ideas. Usually only after a period of doubt and mourning do we realize that leaving something has made room for something else.

“Then It Happens”: What happens when one of them is suddenly gone? Growing up is a dangerous activity. The kids come to class, joyous, new licenses in hand, and you make sure to camouflage the worry in your congratulations. Weeks and lessons pass, and you’re consumed with corrections they forgot or how to address fizzling energy levels.

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May-June 2015 | 2 Music Tips for Teachers | The Classical Period: Part 3

Photo courtesy Nina Pinzarrone

In ballet class, waltz music is excellent for almost any exercise, from tendus, pliés, and ronds de jambe to grand allegros.

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May-June 2015 | Teacher in the Spotlight | Joan “Ms. Puffy” Lather

Photo courtesy Patricia Leigh Dwyer

NOMINATED BY: Patricia Leigh Dwyer, former student: “At 82, Ms. Puffy continues to make her mark on the dance world by touching young dancers’ lives. Her creativity is endless, her energy is electric, and she has a warm, loving way of drawing you into her world of music, wonder, and movement. I am proud, not only to have studied under her tutelage, but to have carried on her legacy—as thousands of teachers across the country continue to do.”

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May-June 2015 | College Close-Ups | Hollins University

At Hollins, MFA students include emerging or mid-career artists and teachers as well as those who have recently completed the all female undergraduate program. All dancers are encouraged to choreograph. Photo by Ty Parmenter

Hollins University strives to create an environment in which dance students are challenged both physically and intellectually, and learn the skills to participate in, experience, understand, appreciate, and thrive in the contemporary world of dance.

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May-June 2015 | A Dollar Here, A Dollar There

For their Indiegogo campaign, part of the team at Blue Lapis Light filmed a video inside the unfinished studio. (Clockwise from top left: Nicole Whiteside, associate artistic director; Jason Brown, company member; Lauren Peterson, managing director; and Sally Jacques, artistic director.) Photo by Scott Hathaway

When Urbanity Dance opened in Boston’s South End in 2008, the contemporary troupe consisted of only six dancers. The company’s studio space of less than 1,000 square feet initially served it well, but the growth of its school to more than 350 students made the space unworkably cramped. Urbanity found a 2,000-square-foot rental space, but it required $100,000 for construction and renovation—money the owners didn’t have. One solution: Kickstarter.

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May-June 2015 | Higher-Ed Voice | Continental Drift

MOOCing? is the result of the choreographer's intent to make a dance that would wrestle with technology as part of the dancemaking process. Photo courtesy Marni Davis

The first thing choreographers do in making a dance is to bring bodies together at a designated time and space. The space might be a ballroom, a studio, a park green, a subway platform—anywhere large enough and light enough to move in. Then the choreographer can turn to making dance. In the process, everyone breathes the same air, touches one another, and mingles sweat in face-to-face encounters—intimate, damp, and physical. Regardless of the kind of dance being made, the choreographer and her dancers share the experience in the same space and time.

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May-June 2015 | More Than Money

A gratitude journal boosts feelings of inclusiveness. During a hat and mitten drive, the journal gives students a chance to note what they are thankful for when donating an item. Photo courtesy Teri Mangiaratti

For a school to be successful, its staff needs to be motivated, committed, and on board with the studio owner’s goals. Retaining staff helps your studio thrive; achieving that means communicating clearly about your studio’s culture and helping your staff feel invested in it.

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May-June 2015 | Moving Images

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Videos of note (new and not):
1. Trisha Brown: Early Works 1966–1979
2. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
3. A History of Dance on Screen
4. All That Jazz

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May-June 2015 | Page Turners

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Books of note (new and not):
1. Giraffes Can’t Dance
2. Dance + Fashion
3. To Dance: A Ballerina’s Graphic Novel
4. Tap Dancing America: A Cultural History

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May-June 2015 | Bulletin Board: Pin. Post. Share.

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Click! What’s new online at the Rhee Gold Company.
Dance in Time: May/June – Up-to-Date Dance History.
Quotable: Dancers on Dance.

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May-June 2015 | FYI

Taking a bow at the 11th International Competition for The Erik Bruhn Prize are winners (from left) Yury Yanowsky,, Hannah Fischer, and Carlo Di Lanno. Photo by Bruce Zinger

What’s up in the dance community:

Filmmakers Tap Into Inspiration

Dance in Hidden Spaces

Chicago Dance History Project

Erik Bruhn Prize Winners

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May-June 2015 | Thinking Out Loud | Celebrating National Tap Dance Day

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National Tap Dance Day is a real holiday? That was my incredulous thought 20 years ago after reading the cover story from the previous spring’s International Tap Association (ITA) newsletter (May/June 1994). When I came across the article in 1995, my studio in Lexington, Massachusetts, was in its 13th year, and I had started going to the Leon Collins Dance Studio in Brookline for tap classes.

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May-June 2015 | Bright Biz Idea | Primed for Success

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This month, Dance Studio Life kicks off a multi-part business series on opening a new school. We’ll take a comprehensive look at each step in the process, exploring best practices and hearing from studio owners about the successes they’ve enjoyed as well as the challenges they’ve faced.

In this initial installment, we examine four questions every prospective studio owner should consider when brainstorming a vision for her school. These questions will aid in identifying the purpose, goals, and defining qualities of a school—all of which are key elements of a mission statement and business plan.

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