Seems impossible to imagine summer from within frigid January, but it is indeed time to begin making plans—whether competition nationals, teacher training or preparing for your own in-house summer program. The 2012 Dance Teacher Summer Study Guide is full of options for teachers as well as students. Whether you’re helping your advanced dancers find the right intensive, or looking for the best continuing ed opportunity for yourself, you’ll find everything you need. And to be sure you’re making the most of summertime in your own studio, DT spoke to three studio directors here about how you can bolster your recreational programs—and your bottom line.    

 

When DT visited the San Francisco Ballet School last October, I wondered if all the greenery visible through the floor-to-ceiling windows you see on the cover could be a little distracting for students. But not to worry. During Tina LeBlanc’s Level 8 ballet class, the concentration of the dancers was palpable. A small thing like bright sunlight didn’t stand a chance next to the force field generated by their teacher.

 

LeBlanc is a sunny, smiling presence, but make no mistake: She’s all focus and intention. Last summer she not only taught in a summer study program but also attended Marcia Dale Weary’s teacher training at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet to sharpen her own skills. To learn why, turn to Mary Ellen Hunt’s profile, “When One Size Does Not Fit All.”

 

One of the most popular and talked about sessions of the Dance Teacher Summit last July was an appearance by the legendary jazz teacher Luigi. This month in “Technique,” Francis Roach demonstrates a basic Luigi jazz lesson that can strengthen your students’ technique, regardless of genre.

 

Are you a smoker? You undoubtedly understand the health risk you’re taking, but have you considered that you might unintentionally be sending your students the wrong message? In “Trashing the Ash,” we discredit the reasons dancers take up the habit and tell how you can support them in quitting.

 

There’s a great deal more in our pages this month to inspire you, as you turn the calendar page to a new and, we hope, brilliant year.

 

Happy New Year!

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.

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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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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.

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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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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."

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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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