Ideas & advice from teachers I used to appreciate that my students never talked in class, yet I was concerned that the lack of response meant they weren’t connecting with me. I knew I had to build a bond of trust with them. My answer was Roll Call Response. Instead of a standard roll call—“Mary?”…Read More
What’s up in the dance community The power of dance to bring people together inspires the Cambridge, Massachusetts, Dance for World Community Festival, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this summer. Beginning June 4 with a week of dance films and panel discussions, the event culminates June 9 with Dance for World Community Day, a free…Read More
Sacred Spaces by Casey C. Davenport Before performing, I always had to be alone in my space. As a teacher, it’s the same—I need my 15 minutes by myself. The quiet before the storm, I guess. Before the school opens, I sip a cup of warm black coffee in the still studio. With just…Read More
Ideas and advice from teachers With 10 minutes of class left I noticed five sets of eyes wandering to the window. Time for a fun activity! I searched my childhood memories for a game that would engage these 7- to 10-year-old beginning jazz students, and Mother, May I? sprung to mind. I changed “Mother” to…Read More
by Amber Perkins Can your dancers tell modern from contemporary? Thanks to its rising popularity, contemporary dance is often merged into modern classes and competition categories. But your students should understand that modern dance is its own genre, with an established history, specific curriculums, and exact elements (for example Horton technique’s Ts, laterals, and overcurve…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
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
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
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
by Tamsin Nutter
What are the qualities of a good children’s dance teacher? After a semester of hands-on experience, the college-student interns in University of Montana’s children’s dance class program have clear ideas on the subject.Read More
by David Arce
Tip 1: To start men’s class, my male students and I do 32 push-ups to music (usually at a coda or fouetté tempo) followed by what I call “manly pliés” at the barre.
Tip 2: When male students practice tours en l’air, they often need reminders to clean up their preparation port de bras.Read More
by Ryan P. Casey
What if the trick to getting more people to tap dance was getting them to attend a fitness class?
That’s the premise behind Sole Power, a tap workout program Riverdance alumnus Aaron Tolson conceived in 2013 that fuses basic tap dance with cardio and strengthening exercises.Read More
“Safe and Sound” by Heather Turbeville: In December, I started physical therapy for my hip. It wasn’t my first time in PT; it wasn’t even the first time I went for my hip. But it was the first time I told my physical therapist, “It bothers me in dance class—but I’m not going to stop dancing.”
“Remembering Debbie Reynolds” by Thom Watson: When Debbie Reynolds appeared in her first leading film role as Kathy Selden in the 1952 musical classic Singin’ in the Rain—at age 19—she had been studying dance only a few months.Read More
by Thelma Goldberg
Tip 1: For a well-organized class that moves smoothly from one activity to another, create a set playlist that complements your lesson plan.
Tip 2: Choosing appropriate music for tap performances can be challenging.
by Samara Atkins
Tip 1: Dance can be especially helpful in processing emotions.
Tip 2: Encourage your dancers to use hip-hop movement to reflect their feelings—and to create rebellious and revolutionary art.Read More
by Constance Hale
Native Hawaiians often express their way of learning in a neat trio of verbs: ho‘onana, ho‘olohe, ho‘opili (“watch,” “listen,” “imitate”). Whatever the craft, the idea is the same: find a master, open your eyes and ears, and if you don’t get it quite right, trust your teacher to correct you.Read More
by David Arce
Tip 1 In partnering classes, the first thing I tell male students is that their most important job is to make their partners look good. Only after their partners are comfortable and balanced should male dancers consider their own poses.
Tip 2 I tell male students to keep their hands low on their partners’ hips—the lower the better.Read More
by Joseph Carman
Every seven and a half seconds, a baby boomer turns 60—which means dance classes for senior citizens can be viewed as a growth industry. By 2020, 35 percent of the U.S. population will be age 50 or older, and that’s an age group that gravitates toward movement, dance, and fitness activities.
Savvy dance teachers around the country have created programs for elders. Whether the genre is improvisation, Zumba, chair dance, ballet, or cardio-based movement, senior citizens are making dance a vital part of their lives.Read More
by Christina Raymond
Smart studio owners are always looking for ways to reach an untapped market. Babywearing dance classes—in which the dancers take class with baby on board, via a front-pack or sling—provide parents with the earliest possible introduction to your school as well as a heartwarming experience.Read More
It’s been one of those days. The energy in the studio is off, and your students look more bored with each brush of the foot in a tendu exercise. You saw an eye roll, maybe two. And in a ballet/tap combo class, the little ones were more interested in playing with each other’s hair than working on their shuffles. You love teaching, but days like these make you feel tired. You’re repeating the fundamentals over—and over, and over—again. If this scenario sounds familiar, you’ve faced one challenge inherent in dance training—repetition.Read More
Most students look forward to the transition in the center from adagio and turns to jumps. It’s usually the most exciting part of class, and dancers are at their warmest, with legs and arms feeling their fullest range of motion, and hand-eye coordination in full effect.
When I create a grand allegro, several factors come into play. I include the theme I’ve been using that class, day, or week, so that students finish class with one more opportunity to think about it. I take into consideration how hard I’ve pushed the students in class and their remaining workload that day or week (rehearsals, performances, etc.), then adjust accordingly the combination’s length and difficulty level. Finally, I set the combination so that the final pose or step comes on a music accent.
Young dancers often become self-conscious and timid when asked simply to walk; make sure to teach students this necessary skill.
Are your students stuck in the mirror? They may be addicted to looking at their own images, or they may be using the mirror as a tool to mask sequencing problems. In my own teaching, I became weary of repeating, “Don’t get stuck in the mirror.” One day, instead of repeating myself once again, I pointed at the mirror and shouted, “She lies!” This broke the students out of their mirror stupor with a laugh; for the rest of class, they used the mirror less. I now use this idea almost daily. When I notice students focusing on the mirror, I point to it and say, “What does she do?” The students respond with a resounding “She lies!” As a result of this practice, my students now depend less on the mirror.