Lesson Plans for Every Month
-Have students make two or three resolutions detailing their dance goals, whether it’s perfecting switch leaps or developing the strength to do relevé arabesques on pointe without the barre. Meet with each student to discuss how realistic his or her goals are and how they can be reached in the upcoming year.
-If many of your students need head shots and photographs for auditions, it may be cheaper (and easier) to bring a photographer to your studio for a flat fee. Parents can share the cost, and you can help coach students on technique during the shoot.
-Every little girl wants to be the Sugar Plum Fairy, and now is the chance! For your post-Nutcracker classes, play music from the variation or the pas de deux and let little ones dance their dream role.
-For Valentine’s Day, skip the candy hearts and other predictable festivities. Instead, pair students as “valentines” in class and let them choreograph duets using steps they have learned. Limit length to four counts of eight and let each group share their creations at the end of class.
-The Academy Awards will be presented on February 27. Play up the Tinsel Town theme by screening famous movie dance scenes. From the classic West Side Story to the more recent Center Stage, your students will have a blast emulating the moves on the screen. (K-12 teachers can offer extra credit for choreographing a dance “in the style of” a particular movie or for writing a report analyzing the role of choreography in the movie.) For a glamorous touch, serve sparkling white grape juice to stand in for champagne.
-Teach an Irish jig for St. Patrick’s Day! If budget permits, hire an Irish dance teacher to guest.
-This is the month when households begin thinking about spring cleaning. Take advantage by holding a studio-sponsored flea market or yard sale in your parking lot for parents to unload their wares. To advertise, put an ad in the local newspaper, if it fits your budget, or just hand out brochures. On the day of the event, distribute flyers about your school’s offerings and upcoming performances.
-Don’t let your students get the better of you on April Fool’s. Bring your own mischief to class and teach combinations backward to enhance memory skills. Here is a fun brainteaser for across the floor: Brisé, assemblé, entrechat cinq, assemblé. For an extra challenge, add battu and then reverse.
-Celebrate Earth Day on April 22 and meet your students at a local park for “Class on the Grass.” Students will enjoy the feeling of dancing outdoors and you will be able to attract potential customers by taking your class into the community. Be sure to bring studio brochures to hand out to intrigued passersby.
-Don’t miss National Dance Week 2005, which runs from April 22 to May 1. Enlist your older students to create an eye-catching window display with pictures and decorations, or position costumed dancers on the sidewalk to distribute flyers about NDW activities. Visit www.nationaldanceweek.org to see how others are celebrating.
-Mother’s Day is a great time to schedule a parent observation week. Teach your students a dance to Cole Porter’s “Unforgettable” in honor of the moms, but keep it a surprise. If your class isn’t too large, give each dancer a couple of counts to make up a Mom-inspired solo.
-Give parents an alternative to static school portraits with Candid Camera Day. Allot 15 minutes at the end of class for parents to come in and snap some shots, but be sure to prepare students not to get distracted. You can even make it into an exercise on the importance of not breaking character onstage, no matter what else is going on in the wings or the audience.
-Planning a party or reception after your annual recital or performance? Bring scrapbooking materials so that dancers can get to work archiving their favorite moments. Grab an extra stack of programs in case someone didn’t get one. (See “Arts and Scraps,” DT May 2004.)
-Every parent is familiar with Bring Your Child to Work Day. Now it’s the kids’ chance! Near Father’s Day, schedule Bring Your Dad to Dance Week. Give plenty of notice so that dads can take time off work.
-Bid adieu to students studying at summer programs with a farewell get-together on the last day of classes. For a going-away present, hand out blank notebooks as “dance diaries,” in which students can jot down fun combinations and record memories.
-Grab your Sousa and teach your own rendition of Stars and Stripes. If you are feeling ambitious, collaborate with other community organizations (restaurants, other dance studios, the Boys & Girls Club, choirs, churches, theater groups, etc.) to mount a family-oriented Fourth of July fair. You can even work with the local fire department to put on a fireworks show. It will be fun for locals and great publicity for your school.
-Promote fall enrollment during the last week of your summer term and schedule an open house for prospective customers to see your facility, meet teachers and observe classes. Offer a one-time tuition discount for those who register on that day. Consider scheduling open houses during other high-enrollment periods as well.
-August is a great month for potlucks, so invite students, families and newcomers for a back-to-school orientation bash in a park or at someone’s home. This is your chance to get to know your customers, build loyalty, share your plans for the school year and get students excited. A fun party game: pin the tutu on the ballerina.
-Make a new student feel welcome by pairing him or her up with an older student to be a Big Sister or Big Brother. This one-on-one relationship will help older dancers develop confidence by sharing their wisdom, while younger students will enjoy the security of having a mentor to show them the ropes.
-Height charts are a great memento of childhood. With your incoming class, measure everyone’s relevé at the beginning of the year and once a month thereafter. Parents will love it when you send the charts home at the end of the year. You can keep everyone on a single chart; post it backstage at your spring recital for parent volunteers to appreciate.
-Halloween brings out everyone’s flair for the dramatic. Have a dress-up day when every dancer gets to come to class in his or favorite costume. Then, teach the Monster Mash. An alternative to having students bring their own costumes is to let them into your costume closet. Each dancer can pick one to wear for part of class.
-This is National Arts and Humanities Month, so let your future Margot Fonteyns flex their Picasso muscles. Organize students into groups and have them lie down on a large piece of butcher paper. Then, they can trace each other in sous-sus, passé or another fun position. Note: Use a non-permanent marker to avoid staining clothing.
-As your high school seniors hunker down to finish college applications, remind them that you are available to write letters of recommendation. Post a sign-up sheet on your bulletin board that includes a field for when letters are due.
-Before the holiday crunch, hold a Relaxation Day, when a few regularly scheduled classes are replaced by yoga or Pilates. Bring in fun tools, such as foot rollers or spiky massage balls, to soothe sore muscles.
-Town parades are a great opportunity to get publicity, not to mention a fun team bonding experience. While your high school students are probably up to the task of constructing a float on their own, consider collaborating with another community organization to share the cost and building time.
-Are you daunted by the prospect of dyeing 35 pairs of shoes for Toy Soldiers or hot gluing 24 Waltz of the Flowers headpieces? You need an assembly line! Hold a Craft Day. Set up stations for each project with one parent in charge. As a thank you to volunteers, give out vouchers for free dance classes or Nutcracker tickets.
-Dancing your best means being healthy, but with a dancer’s busy schedule, it’s hard to see a doctor for every little pain. To help your students feel their best, and as a holiday present, organize a Health Day to nip these aches in the bud. Invite a local physical therapist or a trainer to speak with your students and answer their questions. (See “Healthy Partnerships,” DT December 2004 .)