In his Bollywood dance classes at AATMA Performing Arts, Amit Shah lets the music dictate which dance techniques the class will hone in on that day. "Bollywood dancing is really depicting a particular song," he says. "It's all about storytelling. So, we focus on the lyrics and emotions of the music first, and then establish the technique that will help tell that story." Because a lot of the music in Bollywood films fuses multiple genres, Shah does the same with the movement. For example, he might combine hip-hop steps with movements from the Indian folk dance bhangra.

"It's interesting because Bollywood dance, as much as people think of it as a dance form, it's really not," he says. "It's a series of dance forms put together." Shah, a longtime Bollywood dancer, teacher and artistic director of the New York– and New Jersey–based studio, says that if a dancer is competent in a variety of techniques—from ballet to Indian folk dance to jazz and hip hop—they have everything they need to be a Bollywood dancer. "They need to get both that Eastern and Western influence," he says. "Because that's what Bollywood is."

Shah lets music dictate style of movement in his Bollywood classes. Photo courtesy of Shah

Performance quality is a top priority, so Shah challenges students with a fun activity. "We take a piece of music, and I'll say, 'So if this piece is depicting loneliness, do eight counts of choreography, and I want you to show me loneliness,'" he says. "Then we'll take the same music and the same choreography, and I'll say, 'Now I want to see excitement, but the movement and the music is going to be exactly the same. How are you going to depict excitement through that?'"

Shah and his company, Andaz Costume Design, produce the costumes his dancers perform in. Photo courtesy of Shah

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Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Kyle Froman, courtesy of The Ailey School

Depending upon whom you ask, there are different approaches to mastering the art of turning. Whether it's fouetté turns or a single pirouette, every teacher tends to have their own unique way to break down the physics of pulling off balance, strong arms and quick spotting to students. And here's one more visual to consider, courtesy of master ballet teacher Finis Jhung.

Bottom line: There are never enough ways to describe how to do a pirouette.

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Best Practices

Do you call the pirouette position passé or retiré, or do you use both? What about the term élevé? Do you use it? Have you ever considered what these French words actually mean?

“Ballet terminology is somewhat subjective," says Raymond Lukens of ABT's JKO School. “Often there is no definitive way to say something. What's really important is to create a picture in the minds of your students so that they will do the step you're asking the best way possible. You can split hairs forever over this stuff!"

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Viral Videos

Taylor Swift's latest music video for her hit song "Delicate" has taken the internet by storm since its premier at the 2018 iHeartRadio Music Awards. (Is anyone surprised? 💁) If you've been watching headlines, you know that it's simultaneously dancey, goofy, nods at Margaret Qualley's dance advertisement for KENZO and is chock-full of secret messages for all of Swift's biggest fans.

This entertaining video has us reflecting on some other dance-centric music videos we'll never get over. Check out our list of dancey music videos you need to watch right now. Let us know your favorite over on our Facebook page!

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Alicia Vikander in Tomb Raider (Warner Brothers)

Today in Ballet Dancers Are Actual Superheroes news:

You've no doubt heard that the fabulous Alicia Vikander is playing Lara Croft in the newest iteration of Tomb Raider, which hits movie theaters this Friday. But while her training for the high-octane action role was crazy tough, she says, studying at the Royal Swedish Ballet Schoolwas far tougher.

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Dance Teachers Trending
DaSilva (center) teaching at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts Center in NYC. Photo courtesy of DaSilva

Chanel DaSilva has two pillars of focus for every class she teaches: performance quality and musicality. The former Trey McIntyre Project dancer asks her students to really listen and be the music, emphasizing the importance of being expressive artists. She wants students to find that euphoric place dancers feel when they're under the lights with an audience watching. "I want that in class," she says. "Don't wait for the stage."

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Dance News
Photo by Rosalie O'Connor (courtesy of Bo

When Boston Ballet's Lasha Khozashvili prepares for a role, his strategy feels more reminiscent of an NFL athlete than a principal dancer. He reviews his past performances like a football player studying game tapes. He recalls the technical choices he made and chooses what to keep or change in his upcoming performance. Unlike a football player, though, he leaves one element of his performance untouched before the curtain goes up: the storytelling. "I try to not spend too much time worrying about how I'll act out the character," says Khozashvili. "I prefer to step onstage and follow the story as it happens. I focus my attention on falling in love with my partner throughout the show."

You can see Khozashvili fall in love with his partner, Seo Hye Han, onstage this month in Boston Ballet's production of Romeo & Juliet, March 15–April 8 at the Boston Opera House.

On corrections: "It doesn't matter if it's a coach or a dancer who comes to me and gives me a professional correction—I trust them. If someone sees me struggling with something, and they show me how I can make it better, that's how I'll continue to improve. Even if I disagree with their correction, I'll think about what they've said, and try it out anyway."

On the rigors of a professional ballet career:"I didn't always know if this was what I wanted to do for my profession. The learning process at school got so intense, I had to ask myself, 'Do I really want to go through all this?' You have to go through hell to become one of the highest-ranking dancers in one of the best companies in the world. You have to sacrifice and dedicate yourself completely."

His next step: "I hope to one day be a master coach in a ballet company, as well as spend some time working with young students. I want to teach young dancers how to take corrections in the way that I was taught to take corrections. I want them to pay attention and really work to fix their mistakes."

Teacher Kelby Brown (left) with a student at BDC. Photo via Brown's Instagram

If you're looking to find new teaching jobs or just expand your reach as a teacher, look no further than your Instagram account. Developing a digital voice that connects with studios and dancers is an easy (and cost-free) strategy to boost your profile.

"Instagram has definitely shined a spotlight on my gifts as a teacher," says Kelby Brown, who's taught for American Ballet Theatre and at conventions like The PULSE.

"I have had many inquiries about teaching master classes or being asked to be on faculty at different schools. It has also kept dance competitions in the know and reminds them to bring me out as a judge and educator."

Here, Brown offers his insights to make your Insta account start working for you.

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