The annual higher education issue is one of my favorites to work on and this year is no exception. When New York choreographer Mary Seidman (of Mary Seidman and Dancers) told me about a project that she had recently undertaken for her MFA degree at Hollins University, I jumped at the chance to share some of her research. Seidman interviewed faculty of 13 college dance programs to find out how modern dance is taught in college today. In “Architects of Body and Soul," five respected artists and faculty members talk about their daily practice of technique class.

 

Much has changed about college education since 1938 when Bessie Schönberg began her pioneering dance program at Sarah Lawrence College. Most schools now offer online courses, for instance. In “Going the Distance," writer Rachel Ellner tells how and when dance departments use this format. There is also a growing emphasis on preparing dance majors for professional work life, whether as performing artists or businesspeople (and often both!). Consistent with this trend, Arizona State University recently made a bold move and placed a dance festival administrator at the head of its dance department. Read about Simon Dove’s ambitious plans, as ASU students head into a second year with his revamped curriculum, in “Developing New Voices."

 

Do check out the “2010 Guide to Dance in Higher Ed," with 135 colleges and university dance programs to share with your students who are making decisions about college in the next few years. Regardless of whether they plan to major in dance or simply want to keep dance in their lives while they study another subject, the Higher Ed Guide is the place to start. Then, for more details, we recommend the new edition of Dance Magazine College Guide, now available at www.dancemagazine.com/college.

 

There’s a great deal more in this issue for dance educators in every setting—from tips on working well with an accompanist to selling snacks in your studio. I know you’ll enjoy the vintage photos we unearthed from the Dance Magazine archives for Hannah Maria Hayes’ feature about preserving the history of jazz dance. With winter recitals right around the corner, now is the time to order holiday costumes; we’ve got a selection of new and best-selling styles. And in Technique, Sheila Barker, a Dance Teacher Summit favorite, demonstrates a warm-up exercise you can easily incorporate into your classes, no matter what style you teach.

 

Karen Hildebrand

editor in chief

Dancer Health
Photo by Igor Burlak, courtesy of Tamara King

A raspy voice and sore muscles are not obligatory for teachers, but that's often what happens after hours of teaching. Being a dance teacher is physically, mentally and emotionally demanding. Unfortunately, whether it's because you're pressed for time or that you're focused solely on your students, self-care isn't always the top priority. You might think you don't have time to attend to your personal well-being, but what you really don't have time for is an injury. Here are seven strategies that will help keep you injury-free and at the top of your game.

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It takes strength and suppleness to reach new heights of flexibility. (Photo by Emily Giacalone; dancer: Dorothy Nunez)

There is a flexibility freak show going on in the dance world. Between out-of-this-world extensions on “So You Think You Can Dance" and a boundaries-pushing contemporary scene, it seems the bar for bendiness gets higher every year.

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Thinkstock

When I am lying down on my back with my feet together and knees apart and press down on my knees, my hips pop. It feels really good. However, now when my hips don't pop, they hurt, and my lower back starts to hurt as well. What do I do to get them to pop, and is it even healthy?

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Dance Buzz

Bobbi Jene is another poignant film to add to this year's must-see list of dance documentaries.

After 10 years living in Israel and dancing with Ohad Naharin's Batsheva Dance, American dancer Bobbi Jene Smith decides to leave the company –and the life she's come to know–in search of finding her own path as a dancer and choreographer.

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Dancer Health
Photo by Jim Lafferty; modeled by Sydney Magruder, courtesy of Broadway Dance Center

"If you don't have strong abdominal muscles, you sag into your lower back, your pelvis usually tips and you're hanging out and slumped into your hip joints," says Deborah Vogel, movement analyst, neuromuscular expert and co-founder of the Center for Dance Medicine in New York City. "It just has this whole chain reaction."

The effects of poor core strength can be dire for dancers: from weak and tight hip flexors, which negatively impact extensions, to lower-back discomfort and misaligned shoulders and necks. "Having well-toned abdominals for your posture is the primary reason why you should do stabilizing exercises," says Vogel. "It will allow you to bring your pelvis into correct alignment and good posture."

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How-To
In Motion's senior company dancers and Candice after a showcase performance in Bermuda, (2016). Photo courtesy of Culmer-Smith

When I was 23, an e-mail circulated among my former college dance classmates at Towson University, regarding a teaching position as the jazz director at the In Motion School of Dance studio in Bermuda. I applied, and after a few e-mails, I got offered the job.

Four weeks later, I packed up my tiny little car in Denver, where I was a dancer for the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, and drove across the country to my hometown in Maryland, before flying out for my new life in Bermuda.

Looking back now, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I didn't have time to think through how I should prepare and what I needed to do to officially apply for a work permit. I was mostly concerned with how I was going to pack all my clothes and belongings into two suitcases. If I could go back, I wish I would've had a more specific guide to what teaching in another country entailed.

In an effort to share my experience, here's what I wish I would've known before I left and what I learned over my 10 years living and working as a dance teacher abroad.

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Dancer Health
At age 12, doctors advised Paige Fraser to stop dancing and have surgery. Instead, she chose physical therapy and team of chiropractors and massage specialists to help work through her condition. She has just begun her 5th season with Visceral Dance, based in Chicago.

Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine, when viewed from the back, has one or more curves. The vertebrae are abnormally rotated, which creates twisting and more prominent visibility of the rib cage on one side, and it is most commonly seen in adolescents ages 10 and older. Most cases cannot be reversed, but they can be controlled, for example dancer Paige Fraser who despite suffering from severe scoliosis, has thrived as a dancer. Dance teachers can play an essential role in spotting the condition at an early stage.

“Teachers can help to notice that scoliosis is there in the first place," says Sophia Fatouros, a New York City–based dance teacher and and former professional ballet dancer who has struggled with scoliosis since she was 12. “Parents do not always see their children in tight clothes, like leotards."

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