Editor's Note: A small adjustment can make a huge difference

A small adjustment can make a huge difference. —TaraMarie Perri

The fall back-to-school season can be an exhilarating fresh start—and it can be stressful. It seems we could all benefit from a bit of yoga practice. Yoga’s calming attention to breath and meditation is fundamental to TaraMarie Perri’s Mind Body Dancer program. But as Perri says in “How I Teach Yoga for Dancers," “We don’t teach bliss and rainbows.” Her practice grew from her interest in alignment and anatomical awareness. Simply put, yoga helped her become a better dancer. We’re excited to share her advice about poses used (and misused!) frequently by dancers.

One of Arvin Cheng Arjona’s first tasks of the new school year is to organize an annual spring trip to either the Regional or National High School Dance Festival. He says the festivals are a good ego reality check for his students, many of whom study at local studios outside his class. “They’re all well-trained,” he says. “But I tell them there’s always someone better. They don’t believe me until they go to the festival.” Read about Arjona’s engaging approach to college prep dance in Millburn, New Jersey, in “Boundless Energy.”

Technology is a wonderful tool that can support the way you teach. But with the frequency of new offerings and upgrades, it’s not easy to keep up. That’s why editor (and dancer) Kristin Schwab makes a suggestion in every issue of Dance Teacher. (See Technology here.) Also, “Ask the Experts” columnist Barry Blumenfeld offers great tips that are targeted to those working in the K–12 setting. Note: Did you know you can now get your monthly Dance Teacher magazine on your iPad or other tablet, via the iTunes or Nook newsstand?

While you may sometimes want to hide your head in the sand when it comes to electronic technology, that’s not an option with new advances in pointe shoes. So this month, we asked Amy Brandt to give us a “Pointe Shoe Primer” reviewing all the latest innovations from noted manufacturers. Brandt knows what she’s talking about: A dancer with the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, she also manages pointe shoes for the company. After reading the primer, head to your local dancewear store, where the master fitter will make sure your students spend their money well.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

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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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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Dancer Health
Sebastian Grubb (right) runs Sebastian's Functional Fitness in San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Grubb

From improved aerobic capacity to better reactivity, cross-training can to do wonders for dancers' health and performance. But with the abundance of exercise programs available, how do you get your dancers on the right routine?

Sebastian Grubb, a San Francisco–based fitness trainer and professional dancer, shares three questions to ask as you consider different cross-training options.

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Videos

When choreographer Cristian Faxola learned he had two days to create, develop and shoot a music video as an audition to choreograph for The Squared Division production house, he and his team embraced the challenge.

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Dancer Health
Thinkstock

I have heard you say that tight hamstrings prevent full extension of the knees and that you prefer hamstring stretches in a standing position, rather than on the floor. Can you explain why?

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