As dance educators who practically live in the studio, we can sometimes forget that our chosen artform is a rather privileged activity. That’s why Dance Teacher loves to tell the stories of those who devote themselves to widening the circle. This month, for instance, we visit Toni and Uri Sands of TU Dance Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. The former Ailey performers pictured on the cover have made it their mission to identify children whose socioeconomic status is unlikely to lead them to the dance studio, let alone pre-professional-level training. The Sands’ experience demonstrates that even in cities where training opportunities are abundant, there is often room for more. Good news for dance!

Another way to enlarge the circle is by introducing children to dance at an early age. Movement activities can prime the brain for learning in school. And creative dance helps toddlers develop social skills. For those of you considering adding a pre-K program to your curriculum, “Building Brains and Bodies” offers some great advice. And in “Technique,” tapper Courtney Runft shows how to initiate your youngest future hoofers.

As you’re wrapping up your National Dance Week activities (April 26–May 5), you might find yourself asking if your efforts were worth the trouble. In “Event-Planning Toolbox,” three studio directors confirm that visibility is as valuable as profit. They discuss the details of effective event planning—not only the how and what, but the all-important why.

And just as NDW is a great time to show off your studio, so is National Tap Dance Day. This month in “History,” we celebrate Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, whose birthday we recognize every May 25. Post the quick lesson plan on your student bulletin board. Even if tap isn’t their thing, serious dancers know their history!

The Dance Teacher Summit is August 5–7. We’re gearing up for a great 2013 event, so mark your calendar and arrange for your annual trip to NYC now. The Summit is where the pages of Dance Teacher magazine come to life. I hope to see you there! danceteachersummit.com

Photo by Nathan Sayers

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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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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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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