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Improvisation is still one of those areas of dance which mystifies some studio dance teachers and terrifies dance students (mainly older students.) Most of the time you'll get an, "I love improv" or an "I hate improv" from the crowd as there is generally no ambivalent feelings on the subject. Usually, the younger we are the more uninhibited we are and the earlier we introduce improvisation as more than just "freeze dance," the tendency will be more of a joy to freely move vs. being self-conscious as to what to do next. It will also inadvertently start to build a sophisticated movement profile and palette for little ones as they develop into more mature dancers down the road. For youngsters, it's easier to just move and not think but the older we get the more our brains get in the way. Sometimes as a dance teacher I have to tell my older students, "stop thinking, just do it and move" and that goes with executing choreography too, so you can imagine the terror that comes with not having the steps laid out for them...........

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It's always inspirational as choreographers to walk into rehearsal and feel confident you have dancers who are both technically and artistically mature enough to handle the material you are about to give them. What excites us more is having those able bodies execute our vision as we see it and are limitless to the complexity of the movement we can give them. On the flip side, as teachers and choreographers, we are also presented with dancers at times who are not as technically advanced, who are beginners or are at the studio for recreational purposes only. Yet, each dancer still deserves the same experience of having a dance set on them they feel good about performing and look forward to..........

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In recent years, the term "master teacher" has taken on an identity of itself. This self-dubbed label by many dance teachers has surfaced in a way where it seems everyone is a master of their craft; some without the goods to back it up. I have taken and observed countless classes in all kinds of settings; pre- professional & professional studios, university, conventions, conferences, company classes, etc. and what I have seen makes me pause as to whether we truly get the meaning of "giving class" vs. "teaching class." There is a noticeable difference. The scope of a dance teacher's range in the way they impart knowledge is key in determining how much of themselves they will give to their students, the experience they create for them and what that dancer retains and takes away........

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Teachers, we all recognize that core strength is essential to any strong, technically sound dancer. While we aim to teach our students to always move from the inside out vs. from the extremities (i.e. arms, legs, etc.,) getting started to build towards a sound center takes work and committed practice. Below you'll find three of my favorite exercises to get your dancers going; both in the studio and on their own at home. Each can be executed daily with multiple repetitions and modified based on level and physical capability. Remember, without a strong core we don't have the potential to master turns, balances, extensions, jumps and a whole catalogue of movement necessary to develop one's technique safely and properly................

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Heading into a new year (or really what is "mid-year" for the dance season,) is just as exciting for dance teachers as it is for students. Everyone can benefit from the little bit of down time over the break which helps to re- energize and gear up for the remaining season ahead. Sometimes however, there can be a little anxiety with the thought of heading back into the studio in terms of lesson planning, finding music for the spring shows, coming up with fresh ideas for choreography and rehearsing for those shows as well as cleaning for competition...............

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Costume Gallery Announces Scholarship Winner

Costume Gallery would like to congratulate Sara Pavesi, the grand prize winner of our 2015 Beverly Miller Dance Scholarship, along with the other eighteen scholarship winners. Sara dances with the Atlantic Contemporary Ballet Theater in New Jersey. With the help and support of her family, Sara founded Tutus for Tumors, a program that raises awareness and funds towards a cure for Neurofibromatosis, a disorder that she personally overcomes on a daily basis

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