Columns

Editor Speak | Improvisation and Inspiration

The modern dance classes I took as a child started with every dancer taking a turn in the circle, improvising to whatever word the teacher called out—red, bumblebee, wooden. I loved it. In high school, I improvised a 30-second or so solo at winter guard competitions, flag and all. But now, the word “improvisation” and…

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Tips for Ballet Teachers | Using Landmarks and Boosting Morale

by David Arce Tip 1 The younger the students, the harder it is for them to interpret verbal corrections—especially directional corrections. How many times have you told students to move right, only to find them moving left? Most kids learn this skill by 2 or 3 years old, but that doesn’t mean they can do…

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Ask Rhee Gold | The pros and cons of renting holiday costumes

Advice for Dance Teachers Dear Rhee, I have been presenting a holiday performance for many years. The expense of purchasing costumes has deterred some students from dancing in the show. To encourage more participation, I am considering renting holiday costumes to my students. I’ve never done this before and I am wondering if you have…

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Dollars, Cents & Due Diligence | Should My Studio Have a Retirement Plan?

by Michelle Cote If you own a dance studio, starting a business retirement plan can decrease your business income taxes and help you and your employees save for retirement. Your business can deduct both the portion of employee salaries that go into the plan and the matching funds it contributes; employees (including you) defer paying…

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Teacher Tune-Up | Creating a Life You Love

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…

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Ask Rhee Gold | Build trust and mutual respect with employee evaluations

Advice for Dance Teachers Dear Rhee, I am not the best when it comes to talking to employees about things like parent complaints and issues. Confrontation gives me anxiety, and even in my personal life I avoid some issues, which obviously makes situations worse. This is something I have been working on. I’m teaching less…

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On My Mind | Making the world a better place

Words from the publisher This issue of Dance Studio Life is special for me because we feature proof that dance is not just about the steps that we teach, but about a community passionate about doing good as it passes on one of the oldest art forms known to humankind. Our stories are about educators…

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Tips for Preschool Teachers | Clear Instructions and Key Words

by Susan Bennett Tip 1 Clear instructions create a successful, fun, and safe environment for preschool students. Preschoolers are eager to follow instructions, have fun, and please the teacher. They need clear, brief, and literal instructions. Clear instructions include what, where, and how: What action students should perform Where students should be within the classroom…

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Tips for Modern & Contemporary Teachers | The Benefits of Parallel

by Amber Perkins Tip 1 An important benefit of adding modern and contemporary classes to your curriculum, alongside ballet and other forms, is that working in parallel helps your dancers develop well-balanced alignment. The parallel position really helps align each dancer’s hips, knees, ankles, and feet. This, in turn, supports correct alignment and placement, whether…

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Ask Rhee Gold | How to handle adults who bully students

How to handle adults who bully students Hi Rhee! What would be the best way to handle two moms who are bullying each other’s daughters? Neither I nor my teachers have seen it personally, but other people I trust have spoken to me about it. I’ve addressed both moms individually, but apparently the bullying happened…

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Editor Speak | A Step in the Right Direction

The weekend after the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia—and the upheaval that followed—I found myself looking for artistic consolation. The 2013 documentary Dancing in Jaffa, which had been sitting in my Netflix queue, turned out to be a timely choice. The film follows former championship ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine (whose Dancing Classrooms program in New York…

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Tips for Tap Teachers | Learning to Listen

by Thelma Goldberg Listening is an important skill for both tap teachers and students. Of all dance forms, tap is unique in that its sound is its essence. It’s easy to get distracted by how it looks. Challenge yourself (Tip 1) and your students (Tip 2) with these simple ideas for strengthening listening skills. Tip…

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Ask Rhee Gold | When kindness is perceived as favoritism

When kindness is perceived as favoritism Dear Rhee, Mandy, one of my students, comes from an abusive home situation. It’s not physical abuse, more like abandonment. Her parents are always fighting with one another and they often leave their young children to fend for themselves. Sometimes they forget to pick her up or they argue…

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Editor Speak | Lucky Editor

One of my favorite parts of editing this magazine is reading the great advice. Our Dance Studio Life columnists are a smart bunch, and their ideas often stretch beyond the studio. As I work with them to refine their writing, I frequently find myself mulling over ways I can use their tips. I might not…

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Teacher Tune-Up | Don’t Fear Change

by Sandi Duncan “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” Had I understood the truth of this William Arthur Ward quote 20 years ago, my life could have been a little less bumpy. I started taking dance classes at age 2 and a half. It…

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Ask Rhee Gold | The importance of confidentiality agreements

The importance of confidentiality agreements Dear Rhee, I have loved almost every minute of the 33 years I’ve owned my studio. Last year I married a wonderful man whose job includes lots of travel, and I would like to join him as often as possible. He has always told me that I don’t have to…

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On My Mind: Moving Forward

Words from the publisher Life is a journey. We’ve all heard that idea many times, expressed in many ways. But to make the most of that journey, sometimes we need to pause at the crossroads along the way, to look back at the distance we’ve traveled and toward the paths leading into the future. First,…

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FYI | There’s No Place Like (a New) Home

What’s up in the dance community It’s a scenario familiar to artists: move into a neglected urban area, make it hip and desirable, and then get shoved aside to make room for new residents attracted by all that hipness. Dance studio educators—with their modest revenues and need for sizable square footage—are particularly vulnerable. The downtown…

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Taking Care of Business | Three Steps to an Organized Office

by Teri Mangiaratti When I talk to my fellow studio owners across the country, they tell me that one of their biggest challenges is office organization. Maybe it’s because studio owners are creative, artistic, right-brained people. We don’t want to organize the office! Here’s a suggestion: to get and keep organized, try tackling the job…

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Tips for Special-Needs Teachers | Social and Emotional Learning

by Tricia Gomez Let’s talk about the social/emotional developmental domain. (The five developmental domains are cognitive, motor, self-help, social/emotional, and communication.) Kids with autism tend to struggle with social situations. They fail to pick up subtle cues such as lack of interest, and they often understand words literally, missing inferred meanings (in jokes, for example).…

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Tips for Hip-Hop Teachers | Passing on the Essence of Hip-Hop

by Samara Atkins Tip 1 Do your students know their hip-hop history? Although hip-hop culture influences all of us in some way, many dancers don’t understand its history, and therefore, what hip-hop truly means—and so have a hard time embodying the movement’s essence. Students should understand that hip-hop originated as a cultural expression of Black…

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Ask Rhee Gold | Managing relationships with students

Managing relationships with students Dear Rhee, After attending one of your seminars, I have decided to pull all communication between our students and the studio into the office because I’m seeing improper teacher–student relationships happening around me. I have run into our students hanging out with their teachers around town and they’re constantly texting or…

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Editor Speak: The 15-Minute Recital

“Families, come on in,” said my daughter’s dance teacher, giving us her beautiful smile. I peeked into the studio and saw kids adjusting ribbon skirts and neck kerchiefs. “Costumes!” I said in surprise. “Aren’t costumes the whole point?” asked another mother, grinning. I didn’t expect costumes that April afternoon because this wasn’t a recital—just a…

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Ask Rhee Gold | Taking back preschool classes

Taking back preschool classes Dear Rhee, I’m doing my best to build my dance studio business in a small town. In the beginning, almost five years ago, my studio was booming; it was full of preschoolers and lots of kids under age 10, plus my competitive team. For the last couple of years, I have…

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