Shannon Mather grew up in the competition and convention world. She and her brother, Blake McGrath, dreamed of the day when a convention would dance its way through their hometown of Toronto, Canada. When that never happened, they decided to get involved. So in 2007, with the help of Mather’s husband, Josh, Coastal Dance Rage was born.

Boasting a faculty that includes power players Mary Murphy, Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo, Benji Schwimmer, Sonya Tayeh and Stephen “Twitch” Boss, Coastal Dance Rage now tours eight cities. Despite the impressive roster of teachers, Mather advocates for making students the stars at each event, rather than the familiar faces from TV.

What are the benefits for students attending a convention?

Dancers are usually limited to having just a few teachers in their studios. At a convention you can take from someone with a lot of different styles. It helps you become more versatile.

What etiquette do you wish all dancers adhered to?

Don’t skip ballet and tap class! As soon as those classes begin, all of a sudden we have half the people in the room. Even if you’re a hip hopper, you need to take tap and ballet.

It’s also important that dancers respect each other. When you’re watching the others, pay attention, cheer and show your support. It’s a great opportunity to learn from the other amazing dancers in the room.

How can teachers prepare their students for a convention environment?

Don’t let them get in the back of the room and hang out. Tell them to be aggressive, but don’t push their way to the front—that’s annoying! When the combination is broken down into groups, don’t dance on the side. Go for it, even if you’re not comfortable with the style. Explain to your dancers that that’s how they’re going to grow, by taking on a new style they’re not comfortable with. And of course, tell them to look nice. Conventions are big events and you’re working with amazing people—it’s important to look good.

What do first-time convention-goers need to know?

Don’t be nervous! It won’t help you get better. You paid the money to be at the convention, and you deserve to be there. Come in, and take in as much as you can. Don’t be inhibited. You will get so much better from a few days of intensive classes, and you’ll walk away a better dancer. Then take what you’ve learned back to your studio and practice.

Also, take advantage of making friends. When you go out into the world to audition, you’ll be working with those same people you’re dancing alongside at a convention event. Get to know the faculty. In the future when you have an audition it could be with one of our faculty members, and maybe they’ll remember you. It helps!

What shouldn’t dancers and their teachers expect from conventions?

They shouldn’t expect to get a lot of individual attention. That’s not what conventions are about—that’s what private lessons are for. It’s more about working off the energy in the room. Usually it’s a big, crazy environment. The dancers need to accept that and let that push them. There will be at least 150 dancers in a ballroom with you, so go in knowing you can get more feeding off other dancers and teachers than anything else. It’s going to be a weekend of being inspired, getting pushed, meeting new friends and working hard. They should expect to be really tired and a little sore.

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.

Keep reading... Show less
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."

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less
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."

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less
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?

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox

Win It!

Sponsored