Step, Skip, Leap

Posted on May 1, 2014 by

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I don’t know about you, but I melt whenever I see a toddler in a pink leotard. This issue is filled with them, from Vanessa Salgado’s pre-ballet lesson for Technique  to the roundup of costumes for your youngest dancers (page 48) to Rima Faber’s creative dance class. Watching 4-year-olds awkwardly and adorably explore simple movement patterns, I can’t help but consider the miracle of human development. How exactly do we go from marching in pre-ballet class to mastering 32 fouettés for the Black Swan Pas de Deux?

To answer that question, Faber and a dream team of 10 leaders in the field have recently released new national core standards for dance, which detail the process of cognitive development in children learning dance. We were curious: Why are national standards necessary? After all, dancers have been fine-tuning their bodies as instruments of the artform for 400 years.

“I think about what’s been learned in science and about the body in 400 years—understanding of the body and how to work most efficiently has drastically changed,” Faber told writer Lisa Traiger. “And understanding how the brain helps students learn has equally changed.” In other words, Faber and others who advocate for standards believe it’s time for dance education to evolve from the passing down of steps from teacher to dancer to a more exact science of what it takes to develop artists. In “Standard Practice,” she talks about the new voluntary guidelines, how they work and why studio teachers and pre–K–12 alike will find them useful in preparing dancers for college and career.

Speaking of college, are you up to speed about financial options? How do dancers and their parents finance a college education when average tuition ranges from $22,000 to $42,000 a year? With cash, loans, grants and scholarships making up the college finance pie, how big a slice should go to loans? Will a dance career generate enough cash to make monthly loan payments after graduation? This isn’t a decision your college-bound dancers can afford to leave to their parents. “Let’s Talk About Debt…” will give you some resources to help them make sense of a confusing topic.

Save the date: August 1–3, the pages of Dance Teacher magazine will come to life in New York City. The annual Dance Teacher Summit is an inspiration-filled weekend: technique classes, choreography, business panels and networking opportunities galore. Join us! danceteachersummit.com

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