STUDENTS AREN'T FEELING YOUR CHOREOGRAPHY, NOW WHAT?

Dance teachers spend countless hours researching music, coming up with creative concepts, figuring out movement, formations and transitions and get excited to set new pieces with our dancers. So what happens when your enthusiasm for a new piece doesn’t inspire your dancers the way it does you? How do you handle dancers who just “aren’t feeling it?”

It is extremely important to remember that you are never going to please everyone all at the same time……..never. So, the more you try to come up with a piece which caters more to winning a popularity contest vs. artistic integrity the more you are going to be traveling a slippery slope of choreographing for the sake of giving dancers what THEY want.

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IS HEALTHY COMPETITION AMONGST PEERS REALLY SUCH A BAD THING?

In a time when we are trying to promote unity and fair play amongst our children, consideration and support, an end to bullying and equal recognition, the idea of our dance students “competing amongst one another” is a tricky concept. The world has come to a place where every child is rewarded just for doing their best and “everyone is a winner,” which is by all means a wonderful approach to building a child’s self-esteem. However, there is the other side of the coin where parents and teachers alike must prepare children for what the real world is really like, especially if that child has aspirations of becoming a professional dancer. Unfortunately, no one is going to give you a trophy or an, “A for effort” at a Broadway or ballet company audition just because you attended. Harsh reality??..... Yes. True reality……Also yes....

 

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THE SCOOP ON DANCE TEACHER UNIVERSITY CERTIFICATION PROGRAM

CUTTING EDGE PRACTIAL TEACHER TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION

Faculty from the University of Nevada Las Vegas and Dance Teacher Web have partnered to create the best and most comprehensive teacher training program for dance teachers, K-12 teachers and dance studios with multiple disciplines. This program presents a syllabus that is safe, effective and fun! The curriculum provides a challenging yet easy to grasp dance training for beginner through intermediate levels. Level two certification is for those looking for intermediate and advanced curriculum. Give your Studio a competitive edge by certifying your faculty.......

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FIVE THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN TEACHING CREATIVE MOVEMENT TO TODDLERS

Those with the calling, talent & patience to teach dance to toddlers will tell you it requires a skill set all its own. A special, dedicated subgroup of dance teachers, the knowledge and training necessary to teach these littles while creating a fun experience takes some thought and careful planning. Remembering this is a crucial developmental time, the five tips below will help get you started and also be a reminder that you are extremely essential to this fundamental time in dance training and child development! .........

 

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CROSS TRAINING YOUR DANCERS

Technique classes are the staple of training young dancers so they are equipped with a solid technical foundation which they then can parlay into any dance idiom. While this aspect of dance education is essential, so is the notion of making sure your dancers have the cardiovascular stamina and strength to support that technique.

For a large number of students, the amount of gym time they get at school is nominal. Plus, there are an increasing number of kids who are extremely out of shape, who are less active as a whole due to the surge of mobile, devices, iPads, etc and don’t get outside much to run and “play.”.......

 

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SURE-FIRE EXERCISES FOR ACTIVATING & STRENGTHENING LOWER ABDOMINALS

We’re back at it for another round of building core strength! We all recognize that core strength is essential to any strong, technically sound dancer and the lower abdominals can be a particularly weak spot for any age and any level dancer to build up.

Below you’ll find three of my favorite exercises to help your students engage and connect the lower abs to the rest of their body. Each can be executed daily with multiple repetitions and modified based on level and physical capability. Remember, once a dancer understands the connection and importance of engagement to the rest of the body they will be unstoppable in terms of support and progressing with turns, balances, extensions, jumps and a whole catalogue of movement necessary to develop one’s technique safely and properly....

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WHAT YOU SHOULD BE EXPECTING FROM COMPETITION CRITIQUES

We get it. You lay out lots of money for competition fees in the hopes of taking your dancers to an event where they will not only get the chance to perform, but also receive valuable, helpful and thoughtful feedback to enhance their progress. When you come off a weekend and find that your critiques are not what you had hoped for (especially when they don’t support the scores given,) you feel a range of emotions from disappointed, annoyed, angry and cheated.

Having been on both sides, as a teacher and a judge, I understand what teachers and studio owners are seeking and should be expecting. Any seasoned judge who also teaches will be keenly aware of this as well. Anything less and you should contact competition representatives to bring it to their attention. The information below should give you a sense on what a solid adjudication should encompass......

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INSTILLING A STRONG TECHNICAL FOUNDATION IN YOUNG DANCERS

As teachers, our goal is to move our students forward. To help them progress so that they can continually build upon the knowledge we give them. We do that specifically in their technique classes where we aim to start with a strong, fundamental base to ensure their bodies are strong, their minds are present, their habits are good and their muscle-memory is intact. While it is common-sense to all of us that you can’t jump ten steps ahead until these necessary pre-requisites occur, sometimes we get ahead of ourselves and begin to fast-track our students prematurely.....

 

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CREATIVE MOVEMENT LESSON PLAN

Today we've got a really fun creative movement lesson plan for your students which will help young dancers work on visual focus, musicality, locomotor and non locomotor movement, social interaction, picking up choreography, spatial awareness and more. As per usual, use this lesson plan as a guideline and feel free to put your own spin on it to suit your dancers. This is a template to get you started and I've had great success in getting little ones engaged and focused with this one! Have fun and good luck with, "Top Hat!"
 

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FIVE THINGS YOU SHOULD BE TEACHING YOUR DANCERS OUTSIDE OF TECHNIQUE

Teaching dance is a gift afforded to us. It is a special talent and we are the lucky ones to get to do what we do each day. It does however come with its share of responsibilities and teaching young dancers technique and performance just simply isn't enough. The following five items are also important lessons that should be taught to and expected from your dancers starting from the youngest, tiny beginners to your oldest, most advanced pre-professionals. This also holds true for recreational students. These values set a precedent, teach etiquette, decorum, respect for the studio and art form and implement professionalism, courtesy and respect for oneself.....

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THE IMPORTANCE OF ATTENDING COMPETITION MASTER-CLASSES

Competition weekends are always filled with adrenaline, focus, organized chaos, last minute preparations and camaraderie which holds a studio together to represent themselves in their best light while dancing their hearts out. I mean, this is it…Show-time baby!

While we place emphasis on making sure dancers are ready, costumes are pristine, music is ready to go, entries are set and our students are all in a good headspace before they perform, there is another aspect of competition we should be reinforcing with our dancers. Attending the FREE master classes which are offered by the competition.....


 

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SETTING EXAMPLES & EXPECTATIONS FOR YOUR DANCERS

As dance teachers who spend countless hours with our students in the studio week after week and year after year, it’s sometimes easy for the lines of the relationship to blur in terms of dance teacher to student vs. friend to friend. In a sense you do become part of a second “studio-family” and role model whom they look up to. While building a relationship with students who feel comfortable enough to trust you, communicate and share with you is wonderful, remembering who the mentor is, who’s in charge and setting good examples all around should be your main priority.....

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TRAINING DANCE STUDENTS TO TEACH

As studio owners we all have those students we’ve trained from the time they could walk. We have molded them, nurtured their technique, taught them classroom etiquette, celebrated their accomplishments and wiped tears during defeat and injury. When they arrive at that pivotal age where they are about to “leave the nest,” but are still at the very beginning stages of their dance career, the idea of having these “mini-me’s” transition to teaching is something all of us has considered.........

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NO, FOUETTÉS ARE NOT A REQUIREMENT IN COMPETITION DANCES

The stress of setting competition choreography can sometimes feel daunting if you’ve been to enough competitions and are one of those studios that are frustrated seeing others continuously place because they are masters of fouetté turn sequences or turns a la seconde. I’ve often received the question from studio owners and teachers as to my feeling of making sure they are included, so here is my subjective opinion....

To be blunt....No. No. No......No. To preface, there is a time and place for technically executed fouetté turns and turns la seconde that make sense to the context of the dance to which they are being inserted. Absolutely. For me, however, to add fouetté turns in every piece one enters make them superfluous, clichè and nonsensical to the artistic integrity of the piece. In other words, “fouettés for fouettés sake,” is just not ok and we as choreographers can do better for a number of reasons....

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PREPARING YOUR DANCERS FOR THE REAL WORLD

I have had lengthy conversations with and read ample comments on social media of many talented friends in the business; many that have had long, long careers doing what they love to do and making a good living at it. Today, in particular however, I met up with a friend who is between shows. This is someone who has pretty much worked consistently in the Broadway community for the past 25 years. This conversation resonated with me so much it made me stop and think whether we truly prepare our students enough for what is ahead of them. He went on to mention how hard it still is to reconcile how last week he was touring with a big named celebrity, staying in a 5 star hotel and living the life and this week he was back to his job waiting tables and back to the audition grind......

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