While planning this issue, it struck me with new clarity the way teachers are constantly pulled in two directions: You take class and you give class. So will you enroll for a workshop this summer or will you teach one? The 2011 Dance Teacher Summer Study issue offers plenty of options, whether you seek a program for yourself or for your students.

 

In “Finding the Right Fit," Hannah Maria Hayes shows how several instructors take a proactive role in their students’ summer study plans. And contributing editor Kate Lydon, who is on the faculty of American Ballet Theatre’s summer intensives, has compiled a survival guide for teachers. It’s full of tips for planning your classes, managing a diverse group of students and staying healthy when you’re stretched (stressed?) to the max.

 

I hope your new year is off to a great start. It certainly holds a lot of promise for Valentina Kozlova, the glamorous former Bolshoi and New York City Ballet star featured on the cover. She’s launching a new international ballet competition this May. We had the privilege of watching a private coaching session the afternoon we visited her sun-drenched studio. And we got to play with her dog!

 

At Dance Teacher, we’re constantly looking for fresh perspectives. For 2011, I’m pleased to introduce new columnists for “Ask the Experts”: Veteran studio owner Kathy Blake and her daughter and business partner Suzanne Gerety will discuss the business concerns that keep you up at night. Send your questions to associate editor Courtney Allen, callen@dancemedia.com.


 

All the best for a great new year,

 

Karen Hildebrand, Editor in Chief

The Feldenkrais Method is a somatic technique created by Moshe Feldenkrais in the 1950s. The method has two parts: hands-on sessions with a Feldenkrais teacher (Functional Integration) or group classes comprised of verbal cues (Awareness Through Movement).

Mary Armentrout, a dance teacher, choreographer and Feldenkrais practitioner, shares three ways that this somatic practice can bolster your students' training.

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Your Studio

Oversexualizing young kids has been a hot topic among dance teachers in recent years. It's arguably the most controversial topic teachers and studio owners are faced with. Deciding which choreography, music or costumes are appropriate—or not—isn't always black and white and can be easily overlooked. Is showing the midriff too much for minis? Is this choreography too provocative? Is this popular song too suggestive for a competition piece? The questions can seem endless with no clear objective answers. Until now.

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To make dancers stronger and less injury-prone, Burns Wilson suggest adding floor barre or conditioning classes. Photo courtesy of Burns Wilson

With a career spanning 30-plus years in the dance field, Anneliese Burns Wilson has cultivated a unique perspective on health and injury prevention for dancers. From teaching ballet to teaching anatomy, she then founded ABC for Dance, which publishes dance-teaching materials. Now through research for her next book, which will focus on training the female adolescent dancer, she's delving even deeper into topics many dance teachers have overlooked.

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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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Khobdeh dancing Taylor's Speaking In Tongues. Photo courtesy of PTDC

For Parisa Khobdeh, music does more than set the tone for a piece—it's enabled her to connect with movement. And once she joined Paul Taylor Dance Company in 2003, Taylor's body of work deepened this connection. "His choreography showed me the music, the architecture and the space," she says. "I now see the music."

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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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How-To

Because the chassé is often neglected during the execution of this traveling step, Judy Rice asks her students to do a minimum of a six-inch chassé before transitioning into the pas de bourrée. She encourages dancers to pay close attention to their shoulders and hips in effacé, too. "Kids tend to open it up. They look like they're fencing," she says. "You don't want that." Both shoulders and hip bones should be facing the corner.

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