News: Hot Tips from the Dance Teacher Summit

S.T.E.P. Up Your Social Media Presence


When you’re connecting with current and potential students on social media, you’re representing your brand, your image, your legacy. Consider: What do you want to be known for?


SHARE: Retweet other people’s posts, quote and link to great blogs or share what you are reading online that would be of interest to your community.


TEACH: Post favorite quotes, share your expertise, add value, be generous with your knowledge. It does make a difference.


ENGAGE: Talk to people! Reply to them, help them, connect, ask questions, have fun. Be yourself, let your personality shine through.


PROMOTE: Always ask yourself, “What’s in it for them?” before you hit the tweet/share button. Promoting on social media makes sense and is appropriate when you also take time to be social and add value to your community.


—Suzanne Blake Gerety, vice president of Kathy Blake Dance Studios and co-founder of



Use Your Social Media Time Wisely:


Appoint a teacher of the week at your studio to be responsible for the posts to Facebook. Have that teacher post information about his/her style or genre.


Follow or create lists on Twitter of favorite tweeters or topics.


Set a time once or twice a day to check in, so that you don’t get overwhelmed and distracted.


Check your @replies and messages on Twitter and Facebook to see if you need to reply.


Search hashtags to group tweets on similar topics and/or people who are at the same conference. #DTS10, for example, for the Dance Teacher Summit; or #dance, or #SYTYCD for people tweeting about “So You Think You Can Dance.” —SBG



Make Your Website Work


“Your website is the only full-time employee who works 24/7.” —Melanie Ulman of Jackrabbit Dance studio management software


*    Include a “call to action” on every page (“Attend a free class.” “Bring a friend.”)


*    Avoid overuse of graphics and Flash. Give priority to content.


*    Use low-resolution photos (72 DPI) so that your page loads quickly.


*    Use video: Talk about your principles and vision; give a virtual tour of your studio; demonstrate styles of dance.


*    Sell benefits, not just features. “Small classes” is a feature. “Your child will receive 20 percent more teacher time” is a benefit.


*    Include a place to sign up to receive your newsletter.


*    Optimize your website for Google with keywords and common search phrases.


For more information, see



Mandy Moore IDs the Five Biggest Competition Mistakes


1 Choreography that lacks focus. Do your dancers know what they’re dancing about?


2 Choreography that lacks continuity. Whatever theme or prop you decide to use, do it all the way. Push past the place where you want to drop it.


3 Music. Can your kids connect to the music, or is it about something they’ve never experienced?


4 Limited repertory. Consider what you have shown during the event as a whole. Did you include tap, jazz, musical theater? Or was it all contemporary performed to acoustic


5 Costumes. Do a costume run-through and use water-soluble glue to keep them in place. Moore says: “There’s nothing more embarrassing than watching kids dance half-naked onstage.”



Don't miss Dance Teacher Summit 2011!!!! (Click here)


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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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Todd Rosenlieb, left, of The Governor's School for the Arts. Photo by Victor Frailing, courtesy of Todd Rosenlieb

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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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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
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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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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