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When Paula Frasz fell from a horse in 2015 and broke her tibia and fibula, she couldn't put any weight on her left leg for three months. She continued to teach with the aid of a scooter, also known as a "knee-walker." (This device allows you to kneel on the scooter and glide, coast, speed up, slow down, stop, turn and back up easily.) Frasz relied on three crucial elements of dance pedagogy—use of vocal description and imagery, student demonstration and mentorship—and made some powerful discoveries in the process. Here's how she did it and what she learned.
Don't know where to begin your college search? Look no further. With 624 colleges and universities, our College Guide has you covered.
- Get the facts: debunking the top six dance college myths
- Ease stress with our college-prep timeline
- Get the best advice on auditions and finances
- Check out the details: 136 pages of dance degree programs!
"I describe it as organized chaos," says Kimberly Rishi with a laugh, as she hunts for a quiet space inside her 12,000-square-foot studio in Ashburn, Virginia. In any given week, Studio Bleu Dance Center's 11 dance studios accommodate 800 enrolled students, 52 staff members, adults who take drop-in classes, plus kids in vocal and piano programs and an affiliated ballet conservatory. "It may look like there's always a party going on," Rishi says, "but that's not the case. There's a schedule, and everyone knows where they're headed."
When Rishi took the reins in 2003, there were only 80 students, 20 of whom were competitive. Today, 300 dancers are enrolled for the competition program. And just this winter, she launched a musical theater program, taking in triple-threat hopefuls in the area. While the Ashburn area (outside of Washington, DC) is burgeoning, faculty member Heidi Moe says Studio Bleu's growth is due to more than changing demographics. It's the direct result of Rishi's business experience and leadership ability.
Terms like "proprioceptive" and "vestibular input" don't often come up in the dance studio. But for Rhythm Works Integrative Dance (RWID) founder Tricia Gomez, they were the "magic words" that convinced a reluctant school principal to give dance a try.
Gomez's hip hop–based curriculum fuses rhythm and dance for students with learning differences. Launch Preschool in Torrance, California, serves children or adults who have autism or other disabilities. Their partnership is one of many that Gomez has built since the program's implementation in 2015. In some cases RWID is delivered in schools that cater to disabled students, such as Launch, but in others, it's used in programs where these students are mainstreamed.
To create a multimedia piece that premiered at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in 2014, choreographer Andrew Bartee filmed Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers performing in vastly different surroundings, all within Olympic National Park. While dancing in a rainforest, on a snow-covered mountaintop and along a pebbly beach—all during the making of one project—may seem extreme, dancers don't have to travel far to encounter the challenges of unfamiliar settings.
Whether on pavement, under blinding sunlight, on a chilly outdoor stage or at high elevation, students need your help to meet environmental challenges with confidence. Dancers and choreographers who have performed in atypical settings shared their best tips with Dance Teacher.