Q: What's the best way to help my students get over stage fright before competitions?
A: I think the best way to deal with stage fright is to take steps to minimize it. First, I make sure that my dancers are as prepared for competition as my staff and I can possibly make them. We rehearse often, encouraging them to always perform full-out, and even cover the mirrors so they get used to dancing without seeing their reflections. In class, my teachers tape out the stage dimensions on the floor so we know how much space we have. We always have other kids from the studio watching when we run a number, to encourage a performance atmosphere.
My studio rents a theater before we start competing, so the dancers can go through all of their routines onstage in front of their parents, staff and peers. We videotape this rehearsal, so students can later see for themselves any corrections we've given and any spacing issues. This goes a long way to calming nerves and building confidence.
On competition day, we encourage the students to warm up together, to help them bond and work as a team. We let them listen to their music and ask them to close their eyes and visualize themselves doing their routine perfectly. Finally, right before they go onstage, my teachers and I tell them how proud we are, how much they have improved and to go out there and have fun.
We try to make competing a good learning experience. We emphasize that judges' critiques help us grow and improve. My staff and I are always positive at competitions; we save all corrections for later on at the studio.
After having spent a lifetime looking at ourselves in the mirror, constantly appraising, who of us wouldn't want to take a dance class in the dark? Two Australian dance students, Alice Glenn and Heidi Barrett, had the same thought in 2009 when they founded No Lights No Lycra, a global dance community that offers dancers and nondancers alike the chance to get their groove on in a dark space, where there's no light, no Lycra, no technique, no teacher and no steps to learn. It's just a place to lose yourself in the music and find your own dance mojo. The event became so popular that it spread past its Melbourne beginnings, first throughout Australia and now, globally.
Four incredible educators: Joanne Chapman, Claudio Muñoz, Pamela VanGilder and Kathleen Isaac foster their students' love of dance, whether instilling artistry, offering rigorous training or giving special needs students an outlet through movement.
When Jennie Somogyi retired from New York City Ballet, she found herself in high demand as a teacher. Parents called, texted and persisted. "I don't even know how some of them got my contact information," she says with a laugh. But Somogyi, who departed from NYCB in 2015 after a 22-year career, hadn't made any definitive plans for the next stage of her life. "I just like to see how things move me," she says. She discovered, though, that she enjoyed the process of giving private lessons and seeing the rapid progress students could make. Over time, she realized that teaching was something she wanted rather than needed.
Does your studio slow down when the weather warms up? If you don't offer a summer session, June through August can be a cash-flow challenge. One popular—and easy—strategy is to offer weeklong camps instead. We spoke to three professionals to learn how they make summer camp work.
This week Ballet Hispánico launched its first ChoreoLaB workshop, a summer intensive intended to better prepare aspiring professional dancers—with more than just excellent technique. Artistic director Eduardo Vilaro wanted to create a program that bridges the school and the company, to help dancers transitioning into the professional world and better hone their skills.