A Better You | Wobble Your Way to Strength

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.

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A Better You | Health Care How-Tos

Do-it-yourself health care is a part of life for many dancers—and dance teachers. Over time you’ve figured out how to tame that tendonitis and soothe strained muscles, so you might be one of those people who often delay seeking medical attention.

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A Better You | Beating the Blahs

Do you realize how the seasons affect you? Weather affects mood. Dance teachers aren’t immune, especially since many studios, looking for a steady income stream, offer summer and holiday camps that keep their faculty teaching through all seasons.

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A Better You | Mood Swings, Menopause, and Men

Hormones. You can’t live without them, but sometimes it’s hard to live with them, and that includes when you’re on your feet all day, teaching and dealing with teens who are as temperamental as you feel. How to cope? Being aware of what’s happening and being kind to yourself are good places to start.

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A Better You | Better Balance

Living the dance life is a balancing act. Literally. How many hours have you spent teetering on demi-pointe or performing a challenging adagio on one leg for 64 counts? So much of our early training is spent in finding our balance, and then once we gain it we assume it will always be there for us. Unfortunately this isn’t the case.

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A Better You | Needy Knees

When a dancer has to stop dancing prematurely, it’s often the knees that are to blame. Sometimes those pesky joints lay dancers low in a dramatic mid-performance injury, and sometimes it’s just daily knee pain that leads a dancer or teacher to quietly end her career.

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A Better You | Body Check

For dancers, pain is a way of life. And as teachers, after years of accepting the physical discomfort caused by rigorous training, rehearsal, and performance, we may end up with a skewed perspective on how much discomfort is acceptable. It’s time to rethink what’s acceptable for your body from a health-and-wellness point of view.

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A Better You | A Touch of Caution

As dance teachers, you probably find that you need to touch your students in order to make certain corrections. Dance is a visceral, physical tradition, and hands-on cueing and correctives are essential. Yet in today’s dance world—at least in the United States—let the teacher beware.

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A Better You | Letting the Sun Shine

Waking up tired and sluggish? Do you feel apathetic, indifferent, and numb at the studio? Have long days turned into long years, your attitude become “Been there, done that” as you anticipate every irritation that can happen in a day? Are you counting the days until vacation even though the dance year just started?

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A Better You | Oh, My Aching Back!

Got an aching back? You’re not alone. It’s estimated that 80 percent of people will experience low back pain at some point in their lives, and why wouldn’t dancers be included? They endure long hours standing in classes and even longer hours delegating, directing rehearsals, and doing grunt work during performance crunch times. Most teachers have reveled in their back flexibility, perfect pull-up, and posture, but how long can those nobly acquired attributes hold up? Here are some tips to help tame those aches and pains.

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A Better You | What’s in a Word?

Having a nice day? As teachers and studio owners, you’ve probably noticed that the quality of your day has a lot to do with the people you deal with. Dance education means lots of face-to-face interaction, and that means running the gauntlet of myriad personalities and their varying emotional states. When customer satisfaction is a necessary goal for survival—as it is for anyone involved in teaching dance—it’s important to work toward positive outcomes in both business and casual interactions.

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A Better You | “Ouch” to “Ahhh”

It’s one thing all dance teachers have in common: standing for mega-hours. I remember talking to a friend who had stopped teaching dance; she said the best thing about it was that her feet didn’t hurt anymore. And when I sympathized with a dancer caught in ridiculous traffic, a similar thing happened: She said she was so grateful just to be sitting down. Sound

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A Better You | Frenzy Free

Everyone would agree that the year’s end is a difficult time. It usually involves frantic list making, wrapping up the fall season’s dance programs, and facing increased family and social commitments. And then there’s coming to terms with what did and did not happen in the business plan for the year. If that isn’t a recipe for hyperventilating and an impending sense of doom, I don’t know what is.

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A Better You | Super Powers of Sleep

Missing a little sleep? Well, think twice about doing that, if you can. As someone who travels frequently across both national and international time zones on business, I can attest to the mental and physical challenges of sleep disruption. And judging from the plethora of commercials for sleep medication on television and in magazines, sleep—or more important, insomnia—is a national concern.

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A Better You | Maximizing Your Potential

Got talent? Of course you do! If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be in the position you are with a dance studio. Is it a blessing that allows you to soar above your peers, or a curse that blinds you to the need to follow through with vision and passion?

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A Better You | Rediscovering Your Core

It’s true that most dance injuries occur in the ankle and foot; however, overuse injuries are the hallmark of dance training, which is repetitive by nature. The biomechanical chain from the core downward is of crucial importance in helping dancers continue to dance. The top of this chain is, of course, the core.

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A Better You | Know Your Upper Body

Nothing is more beautiful or exhilarating than a port de bras. I love the saying “The legs dance the music and the upper body sings the movement.” But getting to the point where your dancing sings is not always easy. Often the problems are obvious to teachers, but what a correction really means or where the work should be happening might not be so evident to students. This month we examine some tools to guide corrections related to the upper body, and in the next few columns we will sequentially dissect the lower body and that all-important turnout.

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A Better You | The ABCs on Vitamin D

Why does Vitamin D matter? For starters, it plays an important role in bone density, especially in women. The American College of Sports Medicine and the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science have made groundbreaking statements about the incidence of amenorrhea, osteoporosis, and stress fractures in female athletes and dancers.

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A Better You | Living With Stress

Stress is a fact of life. We can’t live with it when it gets overwhelming, and we can’t live without it because it motivates us to stage the next big project. I tell my clients to go for the “athlete recipe”: alternate stress with relief, stress with relief.

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A Better You | Outsmarting Stress

When was the last time someone looked at you as if you were a bored housewife and said, “Well, at least you can work when you want to because you work for yourself”? When that happens to me, I resist the urge to kill, and in my best imitation of a syrupy Scarlett O’Hara, I smile sweetly and remember my company motto, “Smile and be polite.” Then I gently explain that when you work for yourself, every client is your boss and unfortunately, the hours are 24/7.

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Common Ground: for teachers and students | Dancers’ Half-Dozen

If you’ve been thinking about spicing up your normal exercise routine, look no further. Dance Studio Life asked a range of practitioners, all of whom work with dancers, for their favorite stretching and strengthening exercises.

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