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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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IS BEING A COMPETITION STUDIO NECESSARY?

To compete or not to compete, this is a posing question for any studio owner in terms of the “type” of studio they are going to market themselves as. Are you a traditional training facility, solely focused on classical training methods; creating technicians and performers who will go onto company work? OR…does your studio’s curriculum take the route of more of a fiercely competitive school, teaching technique but also emphasizing training elements which is considered today to be “current” and necessary to motivate endurance and prepare students to perform in the competition circuit weekend after weekend? OR are you a balance of the two; with a strong focus on the traditional training methods while providing your students with one or two regionals a year in order to expose them to new performance venues and offer an opportunity to listen to objective professionals give constructive feedback as they would at an audition? All are valid and take very different form. Each studio director and faculty are responsible for setting the tone as to whether they will be labeled a “competition studio” or not.........

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HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR REHEARSALS

As choreographers and dance teachers we all have had those scheduled time frames where we need to set a piece in the course of one or two rehearsals on a Sunday when the studio is closed or over a vacation break. I have found that having a clear game-plan going into these types of choreography-settings can make the experience way less stressful and a wonderfully creative, productive and fun experience for you as well as your dancers! Here are some of my tips for the ONE DAY REHEARSAL MARATHON!

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Exclusive Interview with Costume Gallery CEO Ellen Ferreira by Dance Teacher Web Co-Founder Steve Sirico

In this exclusive interview you will get a behind the scenes look at one of the premiere Costume Companies in the world, learn some valuble tips and hear what is new and exciting with this long establish Company

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BEGINNER MODERN CENTER WARMUP & ACROSS THE FLOOR LESSON PLAN

You’ve asked and we’re here to help! This week I’m sharing a sampling of my beginner modern lesson plan for those of you that are interested in adding modern technique to your curriculum. Remember, this is a template to get your started where you can add progressions, make edits and infuse the lesson plan with your own ideas and creative inspirations.....

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IMPROVING LACKLUSTER DANCER ATTITUDES IN 2018

Let’s be honest. There is a frustrating trend in recent years surfacing amongst many students inside the dance studio. Not everywhere and not within every student, but there will always be ‘that’ season that produces a group of dances where the motivation, drive and dedication is shall we say, less than inspiring. In a world where, with persistence, there is endless opportunity and options for up & comers if they just work hard enough, it seems that the only thing standing in their way sometimes is one’s own self-motivation, wherewithal & prudence.....

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FORGING AHEAD IN THE NEW YEAR

The beginning of a new year, is a great time to get those lists out on your intended, “resolutions” for the upcoming season and make them habits. Think about what you hope to accomplish for your business and where you hope to take your students. While it may seem daunting at first to try and accomplish everything, go slow, and prioritize! Soon enough you’ll be checking each resolution off one by one and meeting your 2018 goals! Here are some things to jump-start your list and get you going towards a year of fruitful success for the studio and amazing progress for your students!.........

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FIDNING AWARENESS IN YOUR TEACHING HABITS

Very often as teachers, we get to a point in our educating that we are so subconsciously determined to ensure a dancer’s comprehension that we ourselves forget it is up to them to do the learning. There have been times in my own teaching where I notice my habits creeping in that make me stop and wonder; “Is this approach to teaching really helping my students or am I inadvertently spoon-feeding and giving them all the answers?”..........

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BUILDING DANCE VOCABULARY WORD WALLS

Dance Teachers, we all know that Word-Walls are a great way to inspire young dancers to learn movement and also identify and read movement vocabulary. This is an important part to nurturing dancers who are able to execute as well as articulate within the genre. It combines both the physical as well as verbal ability. Using interdisciplinary avenues to reinforce these vocaulary lessons help solidify maintaining and remembering vernacular while introducing dancers to another form of visual art......

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BUILDING SIMPLE & EFFECTIVE STUDENT EVALUATION FORMS

Hello again studio owners! Last week on the DTW Blog, we looked at the effects of student evaluations and the most diplomatic ways in which to go about them for your business’ clientele. This month I’d like to help you build an evaluation form which is thorough, informative and will help to cover all the bases in terms of coming up with fair, introspective and appropriate recommendations for student advancement!

Remember, you know your students and clientele best, so use these categories merely as a guide to add to or omit based on the needs of your business! Remember however, when formatting the evaluation form to keep it clear, concise, easy to read and neat. The student’s name should be listed; as well as the genre, the teacher, the level and time and day of the class.....

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EVALUATING DANCERS AT YOUR STUDIO

Assessment in the K-12 arena is a high priority and instilled requirement. It seems every which way you turn students are always being evaluated for their work as a way to assure the state or national “standard” is being met. The studio sector however is a different animal. With that said, how do you, as studio directors, find a diplomatic way of evaluating paying customers to provide useful feedback for student development? It’s a slippery slope but a necessary one at that for a couple of reasons....

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HOW TO SHIFT THE ENERGY IN DANCE CLASS

We all have taught those amazing classes where we leave feeling inspired because the energy in the room that day was so electric. You know, the ones where all your dancers are little sponges and retain everything, are focused, ask questions, connect the dots and dance their hearts out? It can be an incredible teaching and learning experience when everyone is literally in sync and all on the same page; each bringing the same amount of energy and work ethic to the table. This is where progress is achieved, ideas and cultivated, creativity ignited and dancers are made.

There are those days however, where teaching is anything less than inspirational. It’s inevitable if you’ve been teaching long enough, especially if you deal with adolescents. There are days where something as small as their body language during attendance will clue me in as to where my dancers are at that day. Are they yawning? Leaning on the barre? Gazing off into space? On auto-pilot during warmup? Marking? Void of thoughtful questions? Not picking up choreography? Talking over on the sides? Etc. Etc. Etc......

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EXPECTING EXCELLENCE

I am a dance teacher who expects excellence. I make no apologies for that. Neither should you. Whether you want to call it an, "old school," way of thinking or just plain" too tough," on today's young dancers, I disagree. The way in which we set our own expectations should be clear and concise so dancers know exactly what is expected of them at all times.

Expecting excellence from your dancers does not mean, perfection. It doesn't mean being the best dancer in class, nor the best technician, nor the best performer. It doesn't mean that if they can't get a triple pirouette by the time they're 12, they've failed. It doesn't mean that if they're extension isn't as high as their peer next to them, they will never have a dance career or are, "less than," said peer. Expecting excellence doesn't mean they're not entitled to have an off-day or frustrations or insecurities but here's what it does mean....


 

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TAKING DANCE TEACHER DOWN TIME

With the start of a new dance season, dance educators are so inundated with work we often forget that we too need to take pause. We need to do this every so often in order to refuel our own creative juices and let ourselves become re-inspired. As with any artist, a little respite is a great time to self-reflect on the teaching year; choreography we're excited about starting, things that did or didn’t work in our curriculum last season, changes we’d like to make this season and what new information we can use to reinvigorate ourselves and consequently our students.......

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HOW TO ESTABLISH APPROPRIATE PEER FEEDBACK

Part of being a well-rounded dancer is to have the ability to articulate observations and speak about dance just as much as executing steps properly. A rich, thorough dance curriculum includes one in which “dance literacy” is acknowledged; where dancers are given the opportunity to view dance, edit dance and learn to give thoughtful opinions and constructive feedback to others while keeping it in a positive and supportive light.

In a time and a world where it’s unfortunately so prevalent for others to pick people apart, call out one’s flaws and put people down to make oneself look and feel better about themselves, learning the lesson that giving solicited feedback is a healthy form of communication amongst dancers is an art in itself. It is a very fine line to walk.

We want our dancers to be able to identify and speak about dance in a language which makes them knowledgeable in all realms of the genre. So how do we do this and keep it positive?.......

 

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