by Sandi Duncan Do you ever stop to wonder if there’s more to life than this? You’ve worked hard, created a wonderful career, and have a great family and network of friends. Yet you still have a nagging feeling that something is missing. Poet and author Maya Angelou wrote, “My mission in life is not…Read More
Ideas and advice from our readers Our youngest students often have many stories they are aching to share. Losing a tooth, eating pancakes for breakfast, falling off a scooter, or going up a shoe size—these stories represent the big adventures in their lives. Of course, most of these stories do not relate to dance. Their…Read More
by Jill Randall Think about your most valued employees. How long have they been at your studio? What do they teach? What makes them so special, loved, and valued by staff and families alike? And how did you find, interview, and select them? Hiring is a time-consuming, multi-step process, but it’s worth it when you…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
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
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
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
A passionate proponent of African dance, Charles “Baba Chuck” Davis, died May 14 in Durham, North Carolina, where he had taught with the American Dance Festival for decades, and founded the African American Dance Ensemble in 1983. He was 80. The New York Times said Davis “considered dance an agent of social change,” and shared…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
Teacher-Friendly Master Tap Program Launches Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s Rhythm World festival has long been a fount of tap knowledge for dancers. This year, teachers will get lessons designed just for them through the festival’s new Teacher Certification program, which runs July 17 to 20 at the American Rhythm Center in Chicago. Maurice Hines, Lane…Read More
by Sandi Duncan The word summer may conjure up fun childhood memories of splashing in the pool, playing on the swings in the park, camping, or vacationing at the beach with our families. Those times allowed us to rest, relax, and rejuvenate our minds and bodies. Nowadays, however, our summers probably look very different. Those…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.
Advice for dance teachersRead More
Regardless of its location, a dance school’s reputation rides largely on the quality of its instructors. For schools in small or out-of-the-way places, finding teachers who are well trained in the dance styles on offer is hard enough. Finding staff with both training in dance education and solid teaching experience can seem next to impossible. But dance studio owners are by nature a creative and resourceful bunch. Networking, both in one’s community and at regional and national dance conferences and competitions, can yield surprising results. Many studio owners keep a running list of contacts they can turn to when they need to fill a position.Read More
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.
by Rhee Gold
This March I had the honor of giving a keynote speech and presenting seminars at the Victorian Dance Festival in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The experience reminded me once again that dance educators are the same no matter where they practice their craft.Read More
by David Arce
Tip 1: To obtain a higher extension in grand battement à la seconde, students often rock the weight back into the heel of the standing foot.
Tip 2: Most students love the sensation of a grand battement derrière into arabesque. This common step needs constant maintenance, as students can form bad habits quickly.
by Samara Atkins
Tip 1: The 1990s offered a fresh take on urban culture. The music, clothing, and messages were loud; the movement was big, colorful, and “hype.” To me, the expressive moves of classic ’90s style are still the pinnacle of hip-hop.
Tip 2: Imagery can be helpful when you’re breaking down a compound move. With the Reebok, I like to use the image of a door closing and opening.Read More
by Tiffany R. Jansen (with additional reporting by Karen White)
Costumes are often the first thing audiences notice about a piece, even before movement begins. Quite often, “costumer” is one of the many hats that studio teachers must wear. We asked several teachers/directors how they approach costuming their contemporary dance competition students and performing companies.Read More