by Cathy Roe Many years ago, I joined hundreds of other educators seeking inspiration and class ideas at a dance teacher conference. In this huge convention center/hotel setting, the air was artificial, the lights were glaring, and all sorts of personalities were on display. During a break, I sat in the hallway on one of…Read More
Beginning Hip-Hop Dance by E. Moncell Durden Dancer, educator, and historian Durden provides dance and general education students with a strong foundation in the fundamentals of hip-hop—techniques, styles, aesthetics, history, significant works, and artists. A companion web resource includes 56 video clips for practicing techniques.Read More
Girls, boys—and dads—ease into ballet through Nutcracker camps by Michelle Wurtz Whether it’s The Nutcracker or your own version of a holiday showcase, a full seasonal production in a theater requires long-term student commitment, parental support, and funds. What if you don’t have some or all of these resources, but still want to involve students…Read More
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
Boston Ballerina: A Dancer, a Company, an Era by Laura Young and Janine Parker As a charter member of Boston Ballet and its predecessor, New England Civic Ballet, Laura Young has been affiliated with the company longer than any other dancer in its history. Both a memoir of her personal journey and a fascinating…Read More
NYCB’s Woetzel Named New Juilliard President While The Juilliard School’s Dance Division is often considered the pinnacle of higher-ed dance training, a dancer has never held the school’s top job. As of next summer, that will no longer be the case. Juilliard announced in May that former New York City Ballet dancer Damian Woetzel will…Read More
Onscreen, on the page, and online Maiko: Dancing Child directed by Ase Svenheim Drivenes Maiko Nishino, whose first name can be translated as “dancing child,” was destined to be a dancer. As this 2015 documentary recounts, Nishino’s mother sold the family’s house and car in order to send the 14-year-old to the most prestigious dance…Read More
Ballet Dancer Creates No-Judgment Company Professional dancer Briana Selstad Bosch was fed up with her friends and colleagues being made to feel that they didn’t measure up to ballet’s established physical aesthetic, so she recently founded a company where everyone fits. Ballet5280—named for the elevation of her company’s Denver, Colorado hometown—presented its first concert performance…Read More
Onscreen, on the page, and online Merce Cunningham: 65 Years by David Vaughn Throughout Cunningham’s career, the choreographer, dancer, and artist engaged with technology. What better way to celebrate his legacy than with an app? Created by Aperture Foundation in collaboration with the Cunningham Dance Foundation, the app includes more than 40 excerpts from…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 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.
Ask most professional dancers where they got their start, and they’re likely to name a dance school you’ve never heard of. That’s because, like most of us in the field, they were introduced to the world of dance through their hometown studios. These small independently owned businesses are the backbone of the dance industry. They offer children their first vision of themselves as dancers, their first taste of across-the-floor euphoria, their first memory-making moments on the stage. They ignite the dance spark and nurture the flame through the most crucial years of a dancer’s development.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.
Books of note (new and not)
1. Tappin’ at the Apollo: The African American Female Tap Dance Duo Salt and Pepper
2. Saving Radio City Music Hall: A Dancer’s True Story
3. How They Became Famous Dancers: A Dancing History
4. Merce Cunningham: Beyond the Perfect Stage
by Nicole Sasala Lobuzzetta
Now that studios can purchase dance curriculums—some with playlists included—I’ve been asking myself, “Where is the art in teaching modern dance? Is the performance the only artistic aspect? Or could we teach with the intent to foster creative growth, take risks, and push artistic boundaries?”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
Videos of note (new and not)
2. Lincoln Center at the Movies Presents Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Chroma, Grace, Takademe, Revelations
3. Dance for PD: At Home, vol. 1
4. Gotta Dance
by David Arce
The grand jeté is one of ballet’s most rewarding steps, for both the audience and the dancer. The ability to propel oneself from one foot into the air, reach a perfect split, then land on the other foot, all while showing grace and ease in the upper body, is a hallmark of excellent ballet technique.
Don’t overlook the grand jeté’s landing; in terms of student safety, it is the step’s most important aspect. Properly turned out placement of the standing leg is a must, as any turning in puts extra stress on the knee’s tendons.
“Artistry: Mystery vs Transparency” by Cheryl A. Ossola: Frederick Wiseman’s 1995 film Ballet is a unique perspective on the lives of artists, and in remembering it, I thought about the conversations teachers might have with students—conversations about artistry, how we perceive it, and what enhances or impairs those perceptions.
“Never Stop Dancing” by Tamsin Nutter: The hours I spend sitting at a desk make me feel creaky; a recent “big birthday” turned my thoughts to using my life stages wisely and well. Perhaps that’s why Keep Dancing, a lovely 2010 film portrait of then-90-year-old dance icons Marge Champion and Donald Saddler, has been on my mind.Read More
by Heather Wisner
When My-Linh Le watches turfers at work, she sees the grace, fluidity, and balance of ballet—no small feat, considering that turfers often perform their style of street dance aboard San Francisco Bay Area BART trains, busking for donations in cramped and unsteady spaces. “Turfers tend to get [up] on their toes,” she says, “and they like to do spins.”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 Thelma Goldberg
Tip 1 Small, stationary footwork is important to master, but it’s equally important that tap dancers learn to move rhythmically across the floor and around the room.
Tip 2 Moving side to side, forward and back, or in circles and squares will add variety and fun to your tap classes and help keep your students on their toes.Read More