January

-Have students make two or three resolutions detailing their dance goals, whether it’s perfecting switch leaps or developing the strength to do relevé arabesques on pointe without the barre. Meet with each student to discuss how realistic his or her goals are and how they can be reached in the upcoming year.


-If many of your students need head shots and photographs for auditions, it may be cheaper (and easier) to bring a photographer to your studio for a flat fee. Parents can share the cost, and you can help coach students on technique during the shoot.


-Every little girl wants to be the Sugar Plum Fairy, and now is the chance! For your post-Nutcracker classes, play music from the variation or the pas de deux and let little ones dance their dream role.



February

-For Valentine’s Day, skip the candy hearts and other predictable festivities. Instead, pair students as “valentines” in class and let them choreograph duets using steps they have learned. Limit length to four counts of eight and let each group share their creations at the end of class.


-The Academy Awards will be presented on February 27. Play up the Tinsel Town theme by screening famous movie dance scenes. From the classic West Side Story to the more recent Center Stage, your students will have a blast emulating the moves on the screen. (K-12 teachers can offer extra credit for choreographing a dance “in the style of” a particular movie or for writing a report analyzing the role of choreography in the movie.) For a glamorous touch, serve sparkling white grape juice to stand in for champagne.


March

-Teach an Irish jig for St. Patrick’s Day! If budget permits, hire an Irish dance teacher to guest.


-This is the month when households begin thinking about spring cleaning. Take advantage by holding a studio-sponsored flea market or yard sale in your parking lot for parents to unload their wares. To advertise, put an ad in the local newspaper, if it fits your budget, or just hand out brochures. On the day of the event, distribute flyers about your school’s offerings and upcoming performances.



April

-Don’t let your students get the better of you on April Fool’s. Bring your own mischief to class and teach combinations backward to enhance memory skills. Here is a fun brainteaser for across the floor: Brisé, assemblé, entrechat cinq, assemblé. For an extra challenge, add battu and then reverse.


-Celebrate Earth Day on April 22 and meet your students at a local park for “Class on the Grass.” Students will enjoy the feeling of dancing outdoors and you will be able to attract potential customers by taking your class into the community. Be sure to bring studio brochures to hand out to intrigued passersby.


-Don’t miss National Dance Week 2005, which runs from April 22 to May 1. Enlist your older students to create an eye-catching window display with pictures and decorations, or position costumed dancers on the sidewalk to distribute flyers about NDW activities. Visit www.nationaldanceweek.org to see how others are celebrating.


May

-Mother’s Day is a great time to schedule a parent observation week. Teach your students a dance to Cole Porter’s “Unforgettable” in honor of the moms, but keep it a surprise. If your class isn’t too large, give each dancer a couple of counts to make up a Mom-inspired solo.


-Give parents an alternative to static school portraits with Candid Camera Day. Allot 15 minutes at the end of class for parents to come in and snap some shots, but be sure to prepare students not to get distracted. You can even make it into an exercise on the importance of not breaking character onstage, no matter what else is going on in the wings or the audience.


-Planning a party or reception after your annual recital or performance? Bring scrapbooking materials so that dancers can get to work archiving their favorite moments. Grab an extra stack of programs in case someone didn’t get one. (See “Arts and Scraps,” DT May 2004.)


June

-Every parent is familiar with Bring Your Child to Work Day. Now it’s the kids’ chance! Near Father’s Day, schedule Bring Your Dad to Dance Week. Give plenty of notice so that dads can take time off work.


-Bid adieu to students studying at summer programs with a farewell get-together on the last day of classes. For a going-away present, hand out blank notebooks as “dance diaries,” in which students can jot down fun combinations and record memories.


July

-Grab your Sousa and teach your own rendition of Stars and Stripes. If you are feeling ambitious, collaborate with other community organizations (restaurants, other dance studios, the Boys & Girls Club, choirs, churches, theater groups, etc.) to mount a family-oriented Fourth of July fair. You can even work with the local fire department to put on a fireworks show. It will be fun for locals and great publicity for your school.


August

-Promote fall enrollment during the last week of your summer term and schedule an open house for prospective customers to see your facility, meet teachers and observe classes. Offer a one-time tuition discount for those who register on that day. Consider scheduling open houses during other high-enrollment periods as well.


-August is a great month for potlucks, so invite students, families and newcomers for a back-to-school orientation bash in a park or at someone’s home. This is your chance to get to know your customers, build loyalty, share your plans for the school year and get students excited. A fun party game: pin the tutu on the ballerina.


September

-Make a new student feel welcome by pairing him or her up with an older student to be a Big Sister or Big Brother. This one-on-one relationship will help older dancers develop confidence by sharing their wisdom, while younger students will enjoy the security of having a mentor to show them the ropes.


-Height charts are a great memento of childhood. With your incoming class, measure everyone’s relevé at the beginning of the year and once a month thereafter. Parents will love it when you send the charts home at the end of the year. You can keep everyone on a single chart; post it backstage at your spring recital for parent volunteers to appreciate.


October

-Halloween brings out everyone’s flair for the dramatic. Have a dress-up day when every dancer gets to come to class in his or favorite costume. Then, teach the Monster Mash. An alternative to having students bring their own costumes is to let them into your costume closet. Each dancer can pick one to wear for part of class.


-This is National Arts and Humanities Month, so let your future Margot Fonteyns flex their Picasso muscles. Organize students into groups and have them lie down on a large piece of butcher paper. Then, they can trace each other in sous-sus, passé or another fun position. Note: Use a non-permanent marker to avoid staining clothing.


-As your high school seniors hunker down to finish college applications, remind them that you are available to write letters of recommendation. Post a sign-up sheet on your bulletin board that includes a field for when letters are due.


November

-Before the holiday crunch, hold a Relaxation Day, when a few regularly scheduled classes are replaced by yoga or Pilates. Bring in fun tools, such as foot rollers or spiky massage balls, to soothe sore muscles.


-Town parades are a great opportunity to get publicity, not to mention a fun team bonding experience. While your high school students are probably up to the task of constructing a float on their own, consider collaborating with another community organization to share the cost and building time.


December

-Are you daunted by the prospect of dyeing 35 pairs of shoes for Toy Soldiers or hot gluing 24 Waltz of the Flowers headpieces? You need an assembly line! Hold a Craft Day. Set up stations for each project with one parent in charge. As a thank you to volunteers, give out vouchers for free dance classes or Nutcracker tickets.


-Dancing your best means being healthy, but with a dancer’s busy schedule, it’s hard to see a doctor for every little pain. To help your students feel their best, and as a holiday present, organize a Health Day to nip these aches in the bud. Invite a local physical therapist or a trainer to speak with your students and answer their questions. (See “Healthy Partnerships,” DT December 2004 .)




























Photo by Tim Trumble, courtesy of Arizona State University

Many parents discourage their teenagers from majoring in dance because of fear that their child will become a struggling artist in an unforgiving city, only to end their career in injury. But a dance degree can lead to other corners of the profession, such as marketing, physical therapy and arts administration. "Parents always say their children need something to fall back on," says Daniel Lewis, former dean of the dance division at New World School of the Arts. "They only see the stage time, applause and flowers. But there's choreographing, teaching, PR—the careers are endless."

Others are more concerned with disappointment. "Your daughter doesn't have to be a major ballerina with ABT to be successful," says Lewis. "If she wants to be a dancer, she'll find the work. There's a certain amount of training you have to achieve before you even get accepted into a good college, so if you have the talent, and the drive, you can make it."

As mentors, teachers can be monumentally influential on students' college decision processes. Read on to hear from three dance majors who feel grateful they chose this path—and share their words with your students!

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To show her support for local studios, Kelly Berick requires all her students to be enrolled in an after-school program. Photo by Stephanie Csejtey, courtesy of Akron School of the Arts

When Kelly Berick began teaching high school students at Ohio's Firestone Community Learning Center within Akron Public Schools 21 years ago, she was newly engaged, newly licensed to teach K–12 dance and thrilled to land what she considered the perfect job. Her enthusiasm quickly soured, however, when after two weeks of teaching she called a local studio to introduce herself. "The owner told me her students didn't like me, didn't like what I was doing and were going to quit my program," she says. Her class of seven became a class of three.

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Photo by Matthew Murphy

Jacqulyn Buglisi has a flair for drama. To encourage the students in her intermediate and advanced Graham classes at The Ailey School to open their sternums in a high release, she tells them to stretch “like a flower came out of your heart." When attempting to convey the weight of a hand gesture, she explains that they must “pull the hem of heaven from the sky." During the extensive warm-up sequence, she reminds them that this is no time for complacency: “We don't do positions. We dance the series." Despite her penchant for the Graham dramatics, Buglisi is equally quick to curb any excess of melodrama in her students. “No Swan Lake with the arms," she admonishes one whose wrists are limply crossed.

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Teachers & Role Models
Robert Roldan and partner Taylor Sieve (courtesy of FOX)

Robert Roldan may have stolen our hearts on Season 7 of "So You Think You Can Dance"—but it seems his heart was stolen long before that by none other than Emmy Award winning choreographer, Mandy Moore.

As his first jazz teacher at Bobby's School of Performing Arts in Thousand Oaks California, Roldan says Moore taught him everything he knows about dancing. Now, as an All-Star on this season of "So You Think You Can Dance," he's applying those invaluable lessons with partner Taylor Sieve.

"What Mandy has always taught me, is that you need to feel the emotion and intention of the pieces you perform as a human before you can apply it to your dancing. Because of this, the week that Taylor and I performed Mandy's piece, I used the entire two hours of private rehearsal time we had to talk about what the piece was about and how we could connect to it as humans. I believe that doing this was ultimately more valuable than any time we could have spent cleaning details and making the piece perfect. Mandy taught me this at a young age, and I try to apply it to Taylor as much as I possibly can when I teach her. People won't connect to how high your leg is or what crazy tricks you can do. They want to feel something. And when you feel it, they feel it."

Watch Roldan on "So You Think You Can Dance" tonight on FOX.

Teachers & Role Models
Camille Rommett, left, with her mother Zena, who founded the floor-barre method. Photo courtesy of Rommett.

In 1965, Zena Rommett was asked to teach her unique Floor-Barre method at the American Ballet Center by ballet legend Robert Joffrey. Her gentle-yet-effective technique inspired countless professional dancers over the years, who became faithful followers as a supplement to their dance training. From choreographer Lar Lubovitch to Tommy Tune, Patrick Swayze and Judith Jamison, many swear by the benefits of the technique. Rommett taught it until she was 90.

The summer after Rommett's death, her daughter Camille made her debut on the faculty of our Dance Teacher Summit. She describes teaching to a packed convention room as "a very humbling experience." Despite students often telling her she sounds similar to her mother, she's learned it's not about filling her mother's shoes, but keeping her mother's legacy—and the integrity of the technique—alive.

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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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Dance Buzz
Photo by Julieta Cervantes

In February 2016, we featured the women of Ragamala Dance, the Minneapolis-based bharatanatyam company founded by mother-and-daughter team Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy. (Daughter Ashwini is a dancer in the company and the troupe's publicist.) Since they appeared on our cover, they've had a busy year and a half, full of performances and exciting news. This weekend, they're featuring their mentor, Alarmél Valli, in a special performance at The Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts in Minneapolis.

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