Additional Guides and Resource

Music for Class: Mike Minery

Music for rhythm tap

When Mike Minery’s students enter Wednesday tap class at For Dancers Only in Little Falls, New Jersey, they already know what technique drills are coming. “Soon after I first started teaching, I realized I was just coming up with combinations. I wasn’t really teaching technique,” says Minery. “Now I’ve made an exercise for every step we use in a combination. We do them each week and add on when the students get more advanced.” The tailored phrases allow the dancers to continue polishing their most basic skills while advancing their tap vocabulary.

As a teacher with JUMP, Minery gets a solid gauge of tappers’ technical pitfalls. His biggest gripe is musicality, finding that students often speed through combinations, equating pace with skill level. “Tap gives you an adrenaline that makes you want to rush. But slow down, play with the melody and pick out the accents,” he says. “That’s the most unique way to stand out.” DT

Artist: Oscar Peterson

Album: A Jazz Portrait of Frank Sinatra

“He’s phenomenal and phrases his solos so well. It’s more for myself—when I’m in the studio improvising and choreographing—but also for exercises in class.”

 

 

Artist: Bruno Mars

Album: Unorthodox Jukebox

“Tap can be fun and cool. It doesn’t have to fit the stereotype that it’s old-timey stuff. ‘Natalie’ and ‘Locked Out of Heaven’ are my favorites on Mars’ new CD. There’s a funk or Motown feel to the album that goes well with tap. There are some bad words, but I always edit them out.”

 

Artist: Batida do Corpo

Album: Body Percussion

“I recently did a group piece to this. I use a lot of world music to vary it up. This is rhythmically really interesting. The bonus track ‘Amazonas’ features Fatboy Slim.”

 

 

Artist: Jason Mraz

Song: “You and I Both”

“Jason Mraz is my favorite artist. ‘You and I Both’ is great for a duet between a guy and a girl. (I’ve performed it with my girlfriend.) It’s very quick and percussive with a lot of counterrhythms and partial rhythms.”

 

 

Artist: Dee Dee Bridgewater

Album: Love and Peace: A Tribute to Horace Silver

“She’s kind of a modern day Ella Fitzgerald and probably the best jazz vocalist right now. I’ve used this for solos for girls. She has great phrasing and a nice edge. She scats a lot, so you can take her rhythms and match the choreography.”

 

Artist: Josh Vietti

Song: “Green Light”

“I choreograph so much that I really try to run the gamut of every type of music—I don’t want to hit the same note over and over. This is like hip-hop violin. A lot of his stuff is very funky.”

 

 

Photo courtesy of JUMP

Introducing and teaching rhythm can seem easy, but in reality it can prove to be a complicated concept—especially for younger dancers to grasp. At Ballet Hispánico's School of Dance in New York City, Los Explorers for 3- to 5-year-olds uses classic salsa and tango music to help kids acquire rhythmic awareness.

Here Rebecca Tsivkin, early childhood programs associate, and Kiri Avelar, associate school director, offer exercises to help youngsters feel the beat.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Buzz
Panelists (left to right): Emily Nusbaum, Eric Kupers, Judith Smith, Deborah Karp and Suzanna Curtis. Photo by Aiano Nakagawa, courtesy of Luna Dance Institute

This past Saturday, I visited Luna Dance Institute in Berkeley, California, to attend the Dance & Disability Discourse & Panel—a discussion with five artists, educators and researchers about access and equity for disabled students in dance education. Here are three statements from the discussion that I found eye-opening.

Keep reading... Show less
How-To
Todd Rosenlieb, left, of The Governor's School for the Arts. Photo by Victor Frailing, courtesy of Todd Rosenlieb

You're setting choreography on your class and most of the students are picking it up. One dancer, though, is having difficulty remembering the steps. You review the material several times, but you fear that this is starting to hold back your more advanced students. Still, you're worried the struggling dancer will be left behind. What is the best way to proceed?

Memorizing choreography is an essential skill for dancers. Fast learners have more time to work on the technique and artistry within a combination, and they are often the first to catch the eyes of directors. Like most skills, learning pace can be improved. Encouraging students to develop their own memorization methods will help them approach choreography with confidence.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Neuromuscular expert Deborah Vogel with Jordan Lazan, right. Photo by Jim Lafferty

By strengthening the intrinsic muscles of the foot and ankle, a dancer can help prevent or correct existing pronation. Having strong intrinsic foot muscles keeps the arches aligned, preventing them from dropping inward.

Here, Vogel shares three strengthening exercises to help correct and prevent pronation. She advises dancers to include these in their cross-training regimen.

Mobilize your ankles. (Step 1)

For this ankle mobilization exercise, having a TheraBand wrapped around your ankles puts pressure on your feet to pronate. By resisting that action and keeping your feet centered through the relevé, you're essentially training the ankle where center is.

  • Sitting up straight in a chair, with your feet planted on the floor a few inches apart, tie a TheraBand in a loop around your ankles. You can place a yoga block vertically in between your knees to maintain space between your legs.

Next Page
How-To
Photo courtesy of New York Live Arts

Ellen Robbins' modern dance classes for kids and teens are legendary in New York City. Robbins, who has been teaching kids how to dance since the 1970s (and whose pupils included the actresses Claire Danes and Julia Stiles), takes the standard recital model and turns it on its head. Her students—ranging in age from 8 to 18—are the choreographers for the annual concert she produces at esteemed NYC venue New York Live Arts.

If that approach sounds borderline insane to you (we know you're all deep in the throes of recital season right now), consider Robbins' unique teaching philosophy: Improvisation is present in every aspect of class, for every age group. Here are four ways she shapes her youngest dancers into choreographers—almost without their realizing it!

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers & Role Models
Former students of Kelley gather around a cardboard cutout made in his honor at the recent tribute. Photo courtesy of Merritt

Every dancer has a teacher who makes an impression. The kind of impression that makes you want to become a dancer or a teacher in the first place. For Mara Merritt, owner of Merritt Dance Center in Schenectady, NY, and countless others, that teacher was Charles Kelley.

Known as "Chuck" to most, Kelley was born December 4, 1936. He was a master teacher in tap, jazz and acrobatics, who wrote syllabuses for national dance conventions like Dance Masters of America. Growing up in upstate New York, Merritt's parents, both dance teachers, took her into Manhattan every Friday to study with Kelley. First at the old Ed Sullivan Theater and the New York Center of Dance in Times Square, then years later at Broadway Dance Center.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox

Win It!

Sponsored