Fall brings new beginnings. Just as we were going to press for this issue, American Ballet Theatre announced that Susan Jaffe (on the cover) will become its ballet mistress in October. We photographed Jaffe teaching her advanced ballet class at the Princeton, New Jersey, studio that she has co-owned with Risa Kaplowitz since 2003. It was a treat to watch Jaffe demonstrate the rock-solid attitude turns that made her famous as a performer. Congratulations, Susan, on an exciting career move!


This issue is filled with inspiration and resources to give you a jump-start on the new season—whether you’re teaching in a studio, K–12 classroom or university dance program. (And don’t forget to order a copy of the new Dance Magazine College Guide to help answer questions from your college-bound students.)


    --    It’s the start of competition season, and with it comes the delicate process of auditioning new team members. New Hampshire studio director Jennifer Rienert shares her unique system here.

    --    Karen Kaufmann’s fall schedule at the University of Montana will be extra full, thanks to persistent pavement-pounding for her innovative dance programs that teach math and science concepts in the public schools. Arts funding may be slim, but Kaufmann has found a way to succeed. We tell her story here.

    --    When an injury occurs, medical attention is the best course of action. But many dance-related injuries can be prevented. Check out our chart of the 10 most common and how to avoid them.

    --    It can be frustrating when students with special needs cause disruptions in your class. Don’t you wish you knew how to help them really receive what you have to offer? In Theory & Practice, we share advice you can immediately put to use.


While educators everywhere prepare to open their doors to students returning from summer break, some are still getting in some rejuvenation. Here in New York, the Dance Teacher Summit welcomes more than 900 educators on August 2 for three days of dance classes and business seminars, plus the exciting final round of the A.C.E. choreography competition and presentation of the Dance Teacher Awards. I hope we’ll see you at the Hilton New York.


Introducing and teaching rhythm can seem easy, but in reality it can prove to be a complicated concept—especially for younger dancers to grasp. At Ballet Hispánico's School of Dance in New York City, Los Explorers for 3- to 5-year-olds uses classic salsa and tango music to help kids acquire rhythmic awareness.

Here Rebecca Tsivkin, early childhood programs associate, and Kiri Avelar, associate school director, offer exercises to help youngsters feel the beat.

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Dance Buzz
Panelists (left to right): Emily Nusbaum, Eric Kupers, Judith Smith, Deborah Karp and Suzanna Curtis. Photo by Aiano Nakagawa, courtesy of Luna Dance Institute

This past Saturday, I visited Luna Dance Institute in Berkeley, California, to attend the Dance & Disability Discourse & Panel—a discussion with five artists, educators and researchers about access and equity for disabled students in dance education. Here are three statements from the discussion that I found eye-opening.

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Todd Rosenlieb, left, of The Governor's School for the Arts. Photo by Victor Frailing, courtesy of Todd Rosenlieb

You're setting choreography on your class and most of the students are picking it up. One dancer, though, is having difficulty remembering the steps. You review the material several times, but you fear that this is starting to hold back your more advanced students. Still, you're worried the struggling dancer will be left behind. What is the best way to proceed?

Memorizing choreography is an essential skill for dancers. Fast learners have more time to work on the technique and artistry within a combination, and they are often the first to catch the eyes of directors. Like most skills, learning pace can be improved. Encouraging students to develop their own memorization methods will help them approach choreography with confidence.

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Dancer Health
Neuromuscular expert Deborah Vogel with Jordan Lazan, right. Photo by Jim Lafferty

By strengthening the intrinsic muscles of the foot and ankle, a dancer can help prevent or correct existing pronation. Having strong intrinsic foot muscles keeps the arches aligned, preventing them from dropping inward.

Here, Vogel shares three strengthening exercises to help correct and prevent pronation. She advises dancers to include these in their cross-training regimen.

Mobilize your ankles. (Step 1)

For this ankle mobilization exercise, having a TheraBand wrapped around your ankles puts pressure on your feet to pronate. By resisting that action and keeping your feet centered through the relevé, you're essentially training the ankle where center is.

  • Sitting up straight in a chair, with your feet planted on the floor a few inches apart, tie a TheraBand in a loop around your ankles. You can place a yoga block vertically in between your knees to maintain space between your legs.

Next Page
Photo courtesy of New York Live Arts

Ellen Robbins' modern dance classes for kids and teens are legendary in New York City. Robbins, who has been teaching kids how to dance since the 1970s (and whose pupils included the actresses Claire Danes and Julia Stiles), takes the standard recital model and turns it on its head. Her students—ranging in age from 8 to 18—are the choreographers for the annual concert she produces at esteemed NYC venue New York Live Arts.

If that approach sounds borderline insane to you (we know you're all deep in the throes of recital season right now), consider Robbins' unique teaching philosophy: Improvisation is present in every aspect of class, for every age group. Here are four ways she shapes her youngest dancers into choreographers—almost without their realizing it!

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Teachers & Role Models
Former students of Kelley gather around a cardboard cutout made in his honor at the recent tribute. Photo courtesy of Merritt

Every dancer has a teacher who makes an impression. The kind of impression that makes you want to become a dancer or a teacher in the first place. For Mara Merritt, owner of Merritt Dance Center in Schenectady, NY, and countless others, that teacher was Charles Kelley.

Known as "Chuck" to most, Kelley was born December 4, 1936. He was a master teacher in tap, jazz and acrobatics, who wrote syllabuses for national dance conventions like Dance Masters of America. Growing up in upstate New York, Merritt's parents, both dance teachers, took her into Manhattan every Friday to study with Kelley. First at the old Ed Sullivan Theater and the New York Center of Dance in Times Square, then years later at Broadway Dance Center.

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