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Photo by Laurie Sermos


Photo by Jim Carmody

Nicole Lucia

Danceology Performing Arts Campus

San Diego, CA

Be your students' coach—not their friend Coaching dancers is Lucia's passion. To get results, she uses discipline tempered with inspiration. "I am not interested in being their friend," she says. "There is time to laugh, but there are boundaries. Kids listen and do as I say because they understand what is expected of them. Expectations are set and never change."

Don't let parents help you run your biz She encourages parents to enjoy classroom viewing, but has a strict policy of no parents or adults other than staff upstairs. A common mistake is having parents help run a business, she says. "We are a professional team, not volunteers," says Lucia. "We coach minds and teach bodies. We support dance competition, and we prepare young people for success on a stage and in life, the wins and losses. There's discipline and team bonding, and we help with scholarships and college. There are many opportunities, and we work as a team to find the right chemistry for a college education or other direction."

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Photo by Hector Leiva, Jr., courtesy of Gabrielle F. Aufiero

In Take the Lead, actor Antonio Banderas wins over a group of reluctant inner-city students with a racy tango performance. While the 2006 film was inspired by Pierre Dulaine, ballroom dancer and founder of Dancing Classrooms, teaching in a public school is rarely as easy as it looks in the movies. From financial challenges to lack of administrative support and parental involvement, public-school teaching differs greatly from the studio environments in which most dance educators began their own training. We asked several public-school teachers to share their passion for the hardest job they've ever done. —Kat Richter

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Dancer Health
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I have a dancer who has a very tight back. She can't even touch her toes. She says it doesn't hurt, but she feels no stretch. I am able to push her back down further (with no pain for her), but she just can't do it on her own. How can I help her? —Anna

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Fadi J. Khoury (right) and Sevin Ceviker. Photo by Jaqlin Medlock

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Teachers & Role Models
Photo by Joe Toreno

For teachers, parents and young dancers, Joe Tremaine, Dance Teacher's 2017 Award of Distinction winner had a piece of wisdom to share with everyone. Here are his standout quotes (and lessons) he offered in his gracious acceptance speech.

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Dancer Health
Photo by Nathan Sayers

"So why did you quit?"

It's a question I've been asked hundreds of times since I stopped dancing over a decade ago. My answer has changed over the years as my own understanding of what led me to walk away from greatest love of my life has become clearer.

"I had some injures," I would mutter nervously for the first few years. This seemed like the answer people understood most. Then it became, "I was just not very happy." Finally, as I passed into my 30s, I began telling the uncomfortable truth: "I quit dancing because of untreated depression."

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Dance Buzz
Photo by Todd Rosenberg, courtesy of HSD

Fall is back-to-ballet-school time and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is introducing the HS First Steps scholarship program to help facilitate access to classical ballet classes for young dancers.

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How-To
Terri Best demonstrating the right way to connect steps. Photo by Adam Parson, courtesy of Edge Performing Arts Center

Joffrey Ballet School's jazz and contemporary program director Michael Blake taught this jump-and-roll combination during the first week of jazz classes at JBS to help his students discover the power of oppositional energy. "Oppositional lines keep the movement supported and really pronounce the dynamics," he says. "It's round and soft, yet sharp."

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