Students at Bellaire High School, in Bellaire, Texas, know a thing or two about dance—thanks to their teacher, Sanja Korman, who was recognized as the National Dance Association’s 2008 K–12 Educator of the Year. “As a high school teacher, my music repertoire needs to be diverse and very appealing to teenagers,” says Korman. “I try to let my students dance to something that they enjoy listening to, because it helps them relate to the music, which will further enable them to pursue their love for dance.” Korman recommends offering some non-U.S. artists to help broaden advanced students’ knowledge. “For my performing classes, I try to offer an array of artists to expand students’ horizons in a multicultural sense.” Check out a few of Korman’s favorites here.  DT

Artist: Leona Lewis

Song: “Bleeding Love”

“This is such a versatile song. It’s ideal for a hip-hop class, but lately I’m using it for lyrical hip hop. There are two different rhythms throughout the whole song. It’s really great to help students learn to dance by following the lyrics.”

Artist: Jordin Sparks (duet with Chris Brown)

Song: “No Air”

“A beautiful song when you are teaching partnering and lifting! It allows you to teach your students to express themselves through their motions, while also enhancing the skills needed to perform with another person.”

Artist: Madonna 

Song: “Die Another Day”

“Madonna’s music is appealing to my students. When I am working on progressions or across the floor warm-up exercises, I use Madonna’s or Britney Spears’ upbeat songs!”

Artist: Taylor Swift 

Song: “Love Story”

“I use this song for my freshman classes. It has everything necessary for beginning dance students: a steady beat, nice lyrics and great sound!”

Artist: Björk

Song: “Jóga”

“My modern dance company did a dance to this song. It is very eclectic and allows for more abstract choreography. It sounds very different but is beautiful in its own way.”

Artist: Elisa 

Album: Dancing

“The whole album is great! I love her voice and lyrics. ‘Dancing’ is a great song as well—it’s beautiful to choreograph a contemporary piece to. This is another example of those songs that can offer two rhythms at the same time. My performing modern dance class is making a contemporary routine to this song, and every day we are discovering another dance sequence that works for it.”

Artist: Goran Bregovic 

Albums: Ederlezi and Tales and Songs from Weddings and Funerals

“I often use these songs to expose my students to other cultures and new sounds. The songs are very unusual, with atypical rhythms on both albums. I like to tell students a story about the particular song’s roots, folk background tales, traditions and customs before they listen, which makes it even more interesting.”

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The Feldenkrais Method is a somatic technique created by Moshe Feldenkrais in the 1950s. The method has two parts: hands-on sessions with a Feldenkrais teacher (Functional Integration) or group classes comprised of verbal cues (Awareness Through Movement).

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Dancer Health
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Erdmann (left) on set for "Hairspray Live" (courtesy of Erdmann)

When Wicked ensemble member Kelli Erdman was training at Westlake Dance Center in Seattle, Washington, her teacher Kirsten Cooper taught her that focussed transitions would be pivotal to her success as a dancer. Now as a professional, she applies this advice to her daily performances, asserting that she will never let the details of her dancing get blurry.

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Khobdeh dancing Taylor's Speaking In Tongues. Photo courtesy of PTDC

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We haven't been able to stop watching Lil' Mushroom since she popped and locked her way into Ellen's heart last week. We know you've got a long night of teaching ahead, and this is the dance inspiration you need to get you through. Check it out and tell us what you think about her killer moves over on our Facebook page! (She starts blowing minds at about 2:16.)

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How-To

Because the chassé is often neglected during the execution of this traveling step, Judy Rice asks her students to do a minimum of a six-inch chassé before transitioning into the pas de bourrée. She encourages dancers to pay close attention to their shoulders and hips in effacé, too. "Kids tend to open it up. They look like they're fencing," she says. "You don't want that." Both shoulders and hip bones should be facing the corner.

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