Cathy Roe has done it all in the dance world. Her experience as a university dance program director, TV choreographer, studio owner, master teacher and choreographer are all part of what makes her an in-demand teacher today. Roe has also produced more than 150 instructional dance videos and operates her own competition and convention company.

 

Even with all she has going on, finding great teaching music still excites Roe. “Emerging, innovative artists are always my pleasure to discover. Truly, there is no dearth of musical treasures to encounter, but it does take exploration!” she says. “I try to keep in mind that the message I choose my dancers to act out will be rehearsed in body and mind repeatedly. Therefore, the message needs to be one that is age-appropriate, pertinent to their emotional maturity and a positive influence on their young and pliable psyches.” Here, Roe shares just a few of her favorite finds.  DT

 

Artist: Enigma


Album: Enigma MCMXC A.D.
 

 

“This is my favorite CD for technique class. Just play it straight through and it works for opening stretches, pliés, tendus, dégagés, passés, floor stretches and battements.”

 

Artist: Pat Madden and Sally Potter

Album: It’s About Time

 

“If you like instrumentation, the song ‘Jubilee’ has me envisioning a duet for my older students. ‘Forever Young’ works well for younger dancers. I choreographed a dance to it that used sign language.”

 

Artist: UltraMax


Album: Resurrection

 

“Music for lyrical dance doesn’t need the most literal language. I look for music that is emotionally engaging so that I can tell my story without words. Max Formitchev’s music has inspired me many times. My favorite song is ‘Sweet Harp.’”

 

Artist: Gipsy Kings


Album: Cantos de Amor

 

“We can’t get around the fact that teen girls want to dance about love. I try to find different ways to fulfill my budding students without succumbing to the cliché ballads that rock their iPods. My preference is to engage the emotion in different languages. My all-time favorite is ‘Mi Corazon,’ by the Gipsy Kings.”

 

Artist: Second Opinion
 

Album: Last Rose

 

“A cappella songs are a stunning means of capturing the attention of both performers and the audience, especially when the voices are as enchanting as Pat Madden’s (who is also a member of the trio Second Opinion). Listen to ‘The Last Rose of Summer’ and ‘Add a Little Faith.’”

 

Artist: Leonard Cohen

Album: The Essential Leonard Cohen

 

“Leonard Cohen’s music is a springboard for ideas. A prolific poet, he weaves ideas through his lyrics that are fertile ground for visionaries. Many of his songs are covered by other artists, who add their own melodic voices and arrangements—iTunes has numerous versions to consider.”

How-To

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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