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.

Dancer Health

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.

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
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.

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers & Role Models
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."

Keep reading... Show less
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.)

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox

Win It!

Sponsored