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Pre-School Class Preparation

I find that the summer is a great time to sit down and really take some time to plan classes for the fall. For our pre-school age children we offer two fifteen week sessions and so I like to make sure that the dancers will be taught as much technique as possible. By using stories from the Ballets and making sure that they become used to using different props it gives the dancers a good chance of understanding how to do different movements. In my experience, using props such as scarves, hoops, flags, crowns and stuffed animals not only make the classes fun but also teach the dancers to have spatial awareness and dexterity of the hands. The stories from the well known ballets and books such as Angelina Ballerina are also extremely good teaching tools because young dancers who have wonderful imaginations can become engrossed in the story and this gives you, as a teacher, a way to enact the story by using classical technique and making it fun and approachable. It is so important to stimulate these young dancers both mentally and physically and if you do you will have no trouble getting them to attend every class.

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A Passion to Teach

When you ask most dance teachers why they like to teach and what they get out of it, you will most likely hear in their response the word passion. As teachers, it is a key element that we all possess. I also know that life, a heavy work load and classes that drain the battery can zap us of that vital element if we are not careful to protect it. I have always felt that we, as dance teachers, really are very lucky to be able each day to do something that we love to do. It is easy to take it for granted but I have met many very successful people that would trade places with me in a second when they hear what I do day in and day out. That is pretty special and sometimes with the grind of teaching over a long season we can forget how special that is. The summer is a great time to help rekindle that passion for teaching. September will be here before we know it and if you have not taken steps to find that inner joy you will not feel emotionally ready to tackle a new season. Here are a few things to focus on.

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Appropriate Routines for Competition

Over the last few years as a judge and a choreographer on the competition circuit, I have noticed a dramatic increase in performances using inappropriate content. Fellow judges, teachers and audience members have recently expressed discomfort during performances that contain obvious improper material as well. It seems that more and more choreographers and dance instructors are making questionable decisions regarding music, costuming and subject matter, in an effort to be different. Although I wholeheartedly support new ideas and encourage creativity, teachers should never forget who their audience is and who their dancers are in terms of age, maturity and development.

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Its All about the Teacher!

As teachers, it really all begins and end with us! If a student, or even worse an entire class is not listening, not learning, not growing or not getting better, then the cold hard truth is that we may be missing something. This self evaluation is the key to improving as a teacher. There are some classes that I have taught that when the year ends I feel that for whatever reason I just did not connect with the class. Hey, after twenty one years I am not about to tell you that ever class I have taught has been a huge success. Sometimes I realized late in the year that the class was just not learning as much as I thought they were. It is easy to chalk it up to that particular class just being the problem class goodness knows we have all had some of those!! However, upon further review, I have concluded that I may have missed the target.

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