by Thelma Goldberg Tip 1 I’ve discussed shuffles before (2 Tips for Tap Teachers: “Shuffles,” May/June 2015), but there’s always more to say about this basic tap skill, which can challenge both beginners and professionals with ideas that range from simple to complex. First, let’s keep it simple. The simple shuffle combines a brush forward…Read More
Advice for dance teachers | The Importance of the Recital Dear Rhee, At the end of last season, I had parents who were upset because they thought the recital experience was too much trouble. One parent actually sent me an email to say her child would not be returning unless I decided to drop the…Read More
by Karen White How do you design a dance costume? First, you listen. “When I started attending trade shows,” says Lauren Weissman, “all the teachers were saying, ‘My parents are driving me crazy because the kids are complaining about all these sequins under the arms.’ ” Apparently, company designers had been outlining costume armholes with…Read More
Advice for dance teachers | Changing Your Faculty’s Perspective on Competition Dear Rhee, Although I enjoy the competition experience and I know that my students learn and grow through the process, some of my faculty members believe that preparing students for competition is the most important aspect of teaching. How would you suggest that I…Read More
One of my favorite dance-teacher phrases is “That’s the work.” I’ve heard many teachers say it, always with a look of deep satisfaction. I can tell they love that “Aha!” moment when teacher and student together figure out what an exercise or step is really all about. When you finally feel those inner thigh muscles…Read More
To keep your students engaged in ballet class, try varying how you present the material. I use theme months and theme days with my intermediate and advanced levels to focus and add fun to class lessons. Theme months No-Barre November: Have students do their regular ballet barre in center. Ask them to notice how…Read More
by David Arce Tip 1 Young dancers often don’t follow the music’s tempo during an exercise. This is usually either because they can’t perform the steps at that tempo, or because they are speeding ahead of the music. In either scenario, it’s helpful to say or sing the steps on the music. I also have…Read More
Teaching dance can be frustrating, exhausting, and low-paying. So why do we do it? by Chris Koseluk You know teaching dance probably won’t make you famous. You’re not in it for the money. And it’s probably safe to say you weren’t lured by the luxurious surroundings, the great hours, or the job security. But every…Read More
Advice for dance teachers | Ending Class on a Positive Note Dear Rhee, As a studio owner, I believe that my faculty needs to remember that our students should feel a sense of accomplishment by the time they leave dance class. It isn’t about hollow compliments or accolades, but about ending class on a positive…Read More
Words from the publisher The beginning of a new season offers dance teachers and studio owners a clean slate with awesome possibilities. Faculty and kids are enthusiastic about returning to the studio, but what can we do to maintain that enthusiasm throughout the season? Although classes always have a certain structure, usually consisting of a…Read More
Reality Check: Parent-Teacher Conferences Q: I’ve always been very open and available to discuss a student’s progress when parents have concerns, and during optional end-of-year conversations. But I have some mothers who request parent conferences every couple of months. I have to spend time not only holding these conferences, but collecting pertinent info from multiple…Read More
College Close-Ups: What students need to know about college and university dance programs Beloit College With about 1,300 students, Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin, may be small, but it has a thriving dance program. Since 2001, Beloit dances have regularly been selected for the gala concerts at the American College Dance Association regional conference, alongside…Read More
Start With Focus and Turn Down the Noise by Susan Bennett Tip 1 Start your preschool classes with focus, so students are ready to learn. Preschoolers become distracted and disengaged when they have to wait in the classroom for other students to arrive. Create a separate waiting area for them, with quiet activities (puzzles, for…Read More
by Amanda Whitehead Experiencing music kinesthetically is one of my favorite parts of dancing: for sheer movement pleasure, give me some lush Tchaikovsky or bouncing electro-swing. Like me, few of my students can resist moving to music, and I enjoy preparing classes attuned to my students’ musical development and their pleasure in music, as well…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
Contemporary Classroom Etiquette by Jennifer McQuiston Lott Tip 1 Ballet has its history of established etiquette; classic modern techniques such as Graham or Limón follow clear rules of conduct. A typical contemporary class may be more relaxed, but classroom etiquette is still important. Outlining and enforcing a code of behavior will prepare your contemporary students…Read More
Tough Nut | Acting exercises help coax Nutcracker performers out of their shells by Karen White For studios of all sizes, putting on The Nutcracker is a major affair. The cast is large; the sets and costumes formidable. Performers can range from 7-year-old mice to senior student Snow Queens. They all have to know ballet,…Read More
Advice for dance teachers | Competition Programs Dear Rhee, At what age do you believe a child should begin a competition program? We’ve always started at 10; now parents are asking me if I will accept kids as young as 6. I don’t know if the children and their parents are prepared for the amount…Read More
Butterflies and Beginnings I have a confession to make: The last time I taught dance was many years ago, although the butterflies I felt before every class are still fresh in my mind. My university’s dance department required its students to teach a semester-long dance class to preschoolers at the school’s childcare center. My first…Read More
Everything Old Is New Again by Thelma Goldberg Tip 1 Summer is a perfect time to plan ahead for a fabulous new year of tap dance programming. Remember, investing now in your own growth and training (with intensives, books, DVDs, etc.) will pump new energy and ideas into your classes. Begin by planning new warm-ups…Read More
Words from the publisher I recently traveled to Glendale, Arizona, to present weekend seminars at the Spisak Dance Academy. It was a different seminar experience than most I’ve had, because I got to work with everyone involved—the faculty, the students, and their parents. The kids and the teachers were easy for me, but the parents…Read More
by Nina Pinzarrone
Tip 1: With year-end recitals and Royal Academy of Dance and Cecchetti exams around the corner, in my final column, I’d like to share tips for choosing music that will help your students remember the steps, keep count, and look their best.
Tip 2: Ragtime melodies can be fun. Scott Joplin’s March Majestic (2:52) and Rosebud March (3:09), both in 6/8 with multiple sections, are wonderful for skips, gallops, spring points, and chassés.
by Samara Atkins
Tip 1: Many hip-hop students struggle to connect their upper bodies (arms, shoulders, neck, head, chest, and torso) to their lower-body moves. It’s easier said than done. Here are some ways to develop the upper half’s ability to complement the lower—and make your students into more expressive, dynamic dancers.
Tip 2: Once students are comfortable with the upper body following the lower, have them try making the upper body contrast with the lower.
by Toni Pierce-Sands
Tip 1: The start of class can be challenging if I don’t allow students time to transition from their everyday routines into class time.
Tip 2: Repetition is always important, especially with middle- and high-school-aged students.
by Thelma Goldberg
Tip 1: Since the early days of tap, flash steps have been used to bring routines to exciting climaxes or to challenge other dancers in contests.
Tip 2: Popular flash steps with wings include the single-foot wing in the third step of the B.S. Chorus, the double wing in Bill “Bojangles” Robinson’s “Doin’ the New Lowdown,” and the alternating wing and tip in the traditional buck and wing.