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The Under It All-What To Wear Under Costumes!

They say all good things start with a strong foundation, well that is especially true with Dance Costumes. The correct foundation is essential for each and every dancer. One of my pet peeves at Dance competition or performance is dancers "flopping" across the stage in a costume without foundation or the correct supportive undergarments. Not only is this distracting but it is a source of potential injury for the dancer.

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Why Is Dance History So Important

Periodically while I am teaching a class I will refer to a famous dancer as an example of what I am trying to get across to my dancers and will be met by blank stares from them as if I have a third eye! It never ceases to amaze me as to how little the students know about something that some of them spend a large part of their lives doing. As I have told many of my students "If you want to be great then you must study greatness and emulate it".

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Teaching Basic Tap Sounds to Beginners

 Teaching basic tap sounds to your students will make tap dance easier to learn and your students will understand the names for each step and how to apply them. I like to get my beginners to understand that the ball of the foot is different from the toe which is different from the heel. This may seem basic enough but it is funny that the toe and ball get mixed up a lot of the time! Pointing this out to them is important so that they fully understand how the sounds are created. If they understand each of these sounds then they will find it a lot easier to create each step, the sound it should make and then link the steps together. I think that these sounds need to be reviewed during each class especially in the early learning stages. Once they master the basic sounds then teaching them how to do flaps, shuffles, cramp rolls and eventually time steps will be a snap!

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Ideas on Teaching Pre-School Students

 Teaching dance classes to pre-school children can sometimes be more demanding than any of your other classes. I am often asked by teachers who offer pre-school classes to give advice on the structure of the class and also on how to keep the dancers focused. Not only is the structure important but also, I have always found that the pace of the class is what really makes it work in a positive way.

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Starting Pointe Work

Every little girl who comes to take ballet has the dream of dancing on pointe like the Sugar Plum fairy in the Nutcracker or Odette in Swan Lake. When they have studied ballet for a number of years most of the dancers will start asking you when they can go on pointe. I am very cautious about the time frame of putting a young dancer on pointe. As a general rule I will not even consider a dancer until they are eleven years old. Most children do not have the necessary upper body strength at an earlier age and their legs and feet also need to have been trained over a period of years in order to have sufficient strength to ensure that there are no unnecessary injuries at such an important stage in their growth and overall development.

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The Award Winning Formula

 Throughout the years we have developed the reputation of creating unique and interesting choreography that has been recognized with various awards and overall high scores. After having talked to many teachers at seminars, workshops and training schools, many of them have wanted to know what our formula for success is. The funny thing is, we really are not a so called "competition school" that does a lot of pieces or competitions throughout the year. We do two or three competitions at the most a year and we usually do not enter any more than twenty five numbers. Not that there is anything wrong with being a studio that does a lot of competition, if that is your focus. We have seen many great schools that have had a lot of terrific, entertaining and different numbers and who are doing ten or more competitions a year.

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Staying Motivated & Energized

 One of the toughest things teachers face throughout the season is to stay motivated and energized. You are constantly giving and if you are not careful you can drain your battery and teaching can become a struggle. One way to keep motivated is to constantly be focusing on yourself and your needs. This may sound a bit selfish or egotistical but you are the key to protecting yourself. Don't wait until you get to that tipping point! Know what makes you tick and when you need to relax, what makes you happy outside of dance and when you will make time for you.

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Ballet Choreography For Young Dancers

 Over the years I have judged many competitions where young dancers have been entered in the Ballet category and many times I have felt bad that because of the content of the choreography the dancers were basically set up to fail and would as a result get low scores. Very often it is simply a case of the teachers using steps that are much too advanced for these little dancers. As a result they struggle with trying to control their bodies and end up not looking very pretty and not understanding why.

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There is always one!

 Now that you are back in the swing of things and you are learning your student's names and finding out who is able to understand what you are trying to teach them and who will be having a struggle with it. One thing is for sure, no matter what class you are teaching there will always be one! You know what I mean, the one that is a problem! The one that talks, the one that doesn't listen, the one who wants to be a smart aleck, the one who thinks they know more than you do and of course, the one who just wants to make your life a misery! I am sure you have a few others that you can throw into that category. These students can really affect your classes, energy, creativity and flow. That's enough to make you want to pull your hair out, or theirs! We have tried many techniques throughout the years and have found a few methods that have produced good results.

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Costumes 101

 Let's start at the very beginning, always a very good place to start. Everything begins with that spark of inspiration that leads a choreographer to take a piece of music, combine it with a group of performers and create a "new number". As the piece develops the dancers become more proficient, the choreography is fine-tuned but something is missing the costume. I have always felt the costume is the glue that brings a piece together completing the vision, transforming the dancers to characters and transporting the audience into the story.

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Tools To Make The Learning Experience More Fun

 As we all know a very important part of learning to dance is by having constant repetition in class. Many times students tend to zone out by losing their focus and just going through the motions and as a result end up being bored or burned out. Repetition is a necessity but there are some creative ways to add a little excitement to the daily grind.

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Jazz Technique For Intermediate Students

Last month we presented jazz for beginner students. This month we will focus on the 3rd and 4th year students.

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Music, Music, Music!

 Every year the endless search for music starts and is never ending. As we begin the new year we would like to present a list of music that we have found to be different, age appropriate and exciting. If you do competitions it is important to find unique pieces of music. Some of the music we recommend is oldies but goodies! Looking back you can find hidden gems that you may have forgotten about, music that you once loved and were very passionate about. Listen to those tracks and you may find that it is now very retro! A few years ago we found a remake of It's a Small World After All on the sound track of the Disney movie Around the world in 80 days. We used this song for our year end show finale and it was a huge hit! The whole audience was singing it as they left the theater! So do a bit of digging and you never know what you may find.

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Jazz Technique for Beginner Students

 Each year it is a challenge to make sure that we are prepared. We are, after all, teaching many classes to many different levels of students in many different styles! We have found that each class needs to have a natural progression. Each time the students learn one step it should go towards being part of a building block. It is highly recommended to keep track of what is taught for several reasons.

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How To Create Lyrical Dance

 1) Look at the age of the dancers. Sometimes it can be interesting to mix the ages but obviously if some of the dancers are younger that will certainly influence your style of choreography, music and costumes.

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