Erdmann (left) on set for "Hairspray Live" (courtesy of Erdmann)

When Wicked ensemble member Kelli Erdman was training at Westlake Dance Center in Seattle, Washington, her teacher Kirsten Cooper taught her that focussed transitions would be pivotal to her success as a dancer. Now as a professional, she applies this advice to her daily performances, asserting that she will never let the details of her dancing get blurry.

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Dance Buzz

We haven't been able to stop watching Lil' Mushroom since she popped and locked her way into Ellen's heart last week. We know you've got a long night of teaching ahead, and this is the dance inspiration you need to get you through. Check it out and tell us what you think about her killer moves over on our Facebook page! (She starts blowing minds at about 2:16.)

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Your Studio
Photo by Jim Lafferty for Pointe

No matter how many competition seasons or recitals you've got under your belt, drama inevitably arises over costumes. We spoke to costume companies, a designer and a competition judge for their indispensable advice on costume selection, ordering, trend spotting and customization. Let their wisdom inspire you to dress your dancers to look their best.

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Dance Buzz
Melanie Moore in Al Blackstone's "Freddie Falls In Love." Photo by Matt Murphy

We've all been there—standing in front of a sea of eager students, ready to create the next eight counts on them, when our brains decide to shut down. All the creativity we've been cultivating in preparation for this choreography session has disappeared, and we are left completely blocked. YIKES! What do we do?? Have the kids take a water break? Review the chorus 20 more times? Cry?

NO! We take a step back. We recharge. We glean inspiration from our previous work. For an extra creative boost, we've curated dance videos that are sure bring you back to a place where you can do your best work on your students. Enjoy!

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Jim Nowakowski with Houston Ballet (Photo by Amitava Sarkar, courtesy Nowakowski)

After a wildly successful stint in the commercial dance industry, Jim Nowakowski is now back in the world of classical ballet, and looking better than ever. (How is that even possible?) He's dazzling audiences while performing with BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio. He sat down with DT to tell us about his most influential teacher, Jamey Leverett of Rochester City ballet, and how her guidance through difficult times has given him the confidence to become the dancer he is today—versatility included.

Give it a read!

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Teaching

Dance teachers—we get you. You put up with a lot, and we stand in solidarity with you as you inwardly roll your eyes at every ridiculous comment and question. Check out our list of things we know you are sick of hearing. Get ready to nod your head and say "That's too real!"

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Teachers & Role Models

Long before Allison DeBona took the stage as a first soloist with Ballet West, she had chosen to give up dancing to have a normal adolescence. In eighth grade she quit ballet and joined her high-school drill team. In spite of this decision, DeBona's teacher, Jean Gedeon of Pittsburgh Youth Ballet, never gave up on her and her future as a classical performer.

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Teachers & Role Models
DT's Haley Hilton with Hooks

The line to get into Galen Hooks' Night of Dance master class in New York City stretched far down 31st Street outside of Adelante Studios. Women and men, dressed in a variety of torn jeans, leggings, crop-tops and vibrant lipsticks, lined up for over an hour to learn from one of the commercial dance industry's living legends. By the end of the night, 300 people had experienced the four combinations that turned her choreography into an internet sensation.

Hooks, 31, has worked with more than 60 artists, including Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, Ne-Yo and Rihanna. She has successfully stepped into the roles of choreographer, director, actress and teacher. This year alone she's had four class videos go viral, with one reaching more than 6.3 million views on YouTube. She's even garnered the respect of New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck, who made a guest appearance at this evening's event. It's not Hooks' resumé alone that attracted such a large crowd on this unusually warm night in October, but her genuine concern for the futures of young performers and her uncanny ability to successfully impart her hard-earned knowledge to them.

Joining the dancers clad in heals high enough to break necks, I ventured into the first class of Hooks' Night of Dance, eager to learn the choreography I'd been binge-watching for months. Here are my five biggest takeaways.

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