Several things are apparent about Denise Wall from the moment she enters a room: She is a woman who speaks her mind; she has a lot to say; and she delivers it with a shining life force that is full of heart.

 

When talking about her students, the phrase “I’m like a second mother to her” is likely to come up more than once. It really is as if every child who sets foot in Wall’s Virginia Beach studio is her own flesh and blood. And she’s not beyond legally adopting a student if that is what it takes—Danny Tidwell (ABT, Complexions and now Oslo Ballet), case in point.

 

Indeed, Wall doesn’t seem to understand the concept of “holding back.” She has no qualms, for instance, about calling Simon Cowell to offer a suggestion for his show “The X Factor”—if she can get his phone number. And she definitely can’t keep it to herself when she knows how to help a dancer with their technique—even if that dancer is a “Dancing with the Stars” celebrity contestant whom Wall has never met.

 

In anyone with less authority and information to back it up, this behavior might be dismissed as eccentric or even annoying. But Wall’s students are making names for themselves commercially (including her son Travis whose choreography was nominated for an Emmy), competing on “So You Think You Can Dance” and performing on the pop music circuit. Her strategies work. For a brief sample (and to learn how she corrected the celebrity’s posture), check out  “How I Teach Alignment." Better yet, join us in New York City, July 27–29, at the Dance Teacher Summit, where you can personally experience Wall’s methods and celebrate with her as she accepts the 2012 Dance Teacher Lifetime Achievement Award.

 

The Dance Teacher Summit is where the pages of the magazine come to life. Among the many workshops, panels, performances and exhibits, we’ll be presenting the 2012 Dance Teacher Awards. Every year the editorial team becomes so smitten with the awardees that we are convinced we’ll never love again—though we always do. In this issue, we introduce the four extraordinary women who are being honored this year: Liz Schmidt, Angela Whitehill, Kim Stroud and Katie Glasner. If you know of someone who deserves a Dance Teacher Award, please let us know. We accept nominations year-round and finalists are selected in early March.

 

Regardless of the setting you work in, whether studio, conservatory, K–12 classroom or college, the Dance Teacher Dance Directory puts business contacts at your fingertips when you need them. You’ll want to hang on to this issue all year long. And to include your service or product for teachers in next year’s edition, be sure to contact Jared Smallridge, jsmallridge@dancemedia.com.

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With Thanksgiving approaching, we're all ruminating on the things we are most thankful for in the world. Of course, as dance teachers, our students are always at the top of our list. They make us laugh, they make us cry and sometimes they make us want to pull our hair out, but at the end of the day, they are the reason for everything we do in the studio each day. To get you thinking about how much you love your dancers, here are five videos of kids dancing that are sure to make your heart happy! We want to see the dancers you're thankful for this season, too, so share your favorite videos on social media, tag us and include #gratitudedance in the caption. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

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