Posts Tagged ‘Thinking’

August 2016 | Thinking Out Loud | Dance Class Matters

As a teacher at University at Buffalo [NY], I often rant about how the act of taking class needs to be practiced and developed like any other skill. Recently, a senior taped a piece of poster board that said “Class Matters” to the studio door, to remind her younger classmates that much of their growth occurs in class and that they should take it seriously.

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May-June 2016 | Thinking Out Loud | Dancing to Freedom

It happened so fast: one day, 24 months ago, I began learning basic modern dance techniques like roll-downs and tendus. After that, I performed in several shows for 100-plus audience members. Now I’m paying it forward by teaching others how to dance. And I’m incarcerated!

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March-April 2016 | Thinking Out Loud | The Unseen Student

As a dance educator for 20 years and a dancer for 29, I have experienced a spectrum of teacher-to-student relationships. I know that it’s natural for teachers to scan a classroom and group the students according to their abilities; doing so helps us systemize an approach for teaching each student. It’s also natural to be drawn to those students who excel and are easily engaged.

This is where things get tricky for dance educators. As teachers, we have to use our excitement to steer the class and put all students on a path of discovery through the lessons we prepare. This positive driving force sometimes causes us to overlook the dancers who don’t immediately grasp our concepts.

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February 2016 | EditorSpeak

“Training Thinking Dancers”: Rehearsals had begun for my new musical theater competition number, but nothing was working. These girls had been with me for years—they trusted my “nobody’s gonna get this” themes, solved the puzzle of my patterns, could ace any acting improv. They were ready for a real challenge—or so I thought.

“When Helping Hurts”: Above, Karen says, “I became the parent who does the homework.” This mentality—the determination to not let a child fail in ways that are necessary for learning to be a responsible adult—is prevalent and nothing new. But it’s gaining ground in new ways.

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October 2015 | Thinking Out Loud | Encouraging Young Teachers

Like many of my peers, I began teaching dance at a young age. In high school I assisted my tap teacher with her youth classes, and when she was absent I was entrusted to lead the class on my own. Before I knew it, I was teaching my own boys’ tap class and beginning to sub for other local instructors.

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September 2015 | Thinking Out Loud | Theater Etiquette

As a dance educator and former performer, I believe dance teachers have an obligation to teach theater etiquette to their students. I teach it for many reasons: because I want my dancers to take pride in the art they have chosen to study, and to behave in a manner that exemplifies this when attending a performance; because I want them to show respect for the performers onstage and courtesy to the patrons seated around them; and because I want them to understand what it means to immerse themselves in a theater experience. I also want them to realize that their behavior can directly affect the theatergoing experience of others.

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August 2015 | Thinking Out Loud | Teaching Tradition

I love the shared aliveness of the field of dance—the kinetic way we pass down our knowledge from person to person, class by class, articulating through body and voice all that we understand and feel. It is exciting to know that the generation of students I am teaching is absorbing information I gleaned from my own teachers. The dance family tree is rooted in oral tradition and information is passed down through direct interaction—both verbal and physical—between teachers and students.

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February 2015 | Thinking Out Loud | Hard, Good Work

The film 20 Feet from Stardom, which won the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, focuses primarily on the careers of African American female singers who backed up musicians from Elvis Presley to Madonna to Michael Jackson. Despite their tremendous talents, and the fact that their voices and presence onstage transformed American popular music, most of them never gained the spotlight.

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September 2014 | Thinking Out Loud | Emphasis on Artistry

As a co-owner of Plano Dance Theatre and director of our Performance Ensemble, I’ve chosen to encourage the artistry of dance as its own reward. From the time the school opened nine years ago, I knew I did not want competition to be the primary focus. We don’t attend national finals; instead I encourage them to audition for summer intensive programs where they can continue their technical growth and development.

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January 2014 | Thinking Out Loud | Heads Held High

Most ballet instructors believe a class dress code is essential. Melissa Roxey is one of them. Not only does uniformity of dress allow for accurate technical corrections due to unobstructed views of the body, but the lack of adornment and personal style ensures that the dancers’ technique, not the latest fashion trends, are the center of attention in class. But for one week Melissa, the owner of Mill Ballet School in Lambertville, New Jersey, the school my daughters attend, abandoned the dress code and encouraged students of all ages to wear their favorite crowns, tiaras, or hats to class.

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October 2013 | Thinking Out Loud | Happy Ending

We have many pictures of us together, my students and I. Hugging at the end of class, posing in arabesque at the beach, screaming our lungs out at Canobie Lake Park. We became the masters of the self-portrait, arms extended as we held the camera before us, blinding ourselves with the flash.

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