I don’t know about you, but I melt whenever I see a toddler in a pink leotard. This issue is filled with them, from Vanessa Salgado’s pre-ballet lesson for Technique  to the roundup of costumes for your youngest dancers (page 48) to Rima Faber’s creative dance class. Watching 4-year-olds awkwardly and adorably explore simple movement patterns, I can’t help but consider the miracle of human development. How exactly do we go from marching in pre-ballet class to mastering 32 fouettés for the Black Swan Pas de Deux?

To answer that question, Faber and a dream team of 10 leaders in the field have recently released new national core standards for dance, which detail the process of cognitive development in children learning dance. We were curious: Why are national standards necessary? After all, dancers have been fine-tuning their bodies as instruments of the artform for 400 years.

“I think about what’s been learned in science and about the body in 400 years—understanding of the body and how to work most efficiently has drastically changed,” Faber told writer Lisa Traiger. “And understanding how the brain helps students learn has equally changed.” In other words, Faber and others who advocate for standards believe it’s time for dance education to evolve from the passing down of steps from teacher to dancer to a more exact science of what it takes to develop artists. In “Standard Practice,” she talks about the new voluntary guidelines, how they work and why studio teachers and pre–K–12 alike will find them useful in preparing dancers for college and career.

Speaking of college, are you up to speed about financial options? How do dancers and their parents finance a college education when average tuition ranges from $22,000 to $42,000 a year? With cash, loans, grants and scholarships making up the college finance pie, how big a slice should go to loans? Will a dance career generate enough cash to make monthly loan payments after graduation? This isn’t a decision your college-bound dancers can afford to leave to their parents. “Let’s Talk About Debt...” will give you some resources to help them make sense of a confusing topic.

Save the date: August 1–3, the pages of Dance Teacher magazine will come to life in New York City. The annual Dance Teacher Summit is an inspiration-filled weekend: technique classes, choreography, business panels and networking opportunities galore. Join us! danceteachersummit.com

The Museum Workout. Photo by Paula Lobo, courtesy of the Met

As you tally up the reasons to be grateful this Thanksgiving, take a moment to reflect on a few of the world premieres that broke new ground this year. Some changed our perspective on dance, and others were just plain fierce, but they all got our attention and inspired our work as dance teachers.

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With Thanksgiving approaching, we're all ruminating on the things we are most thankful for in the world. Of course, as dance teachers, our students are always at the top of our list. They make us laugh, they make us cry and sometimes they make us want to pull our hair out, but at the end of the day, they are the reason for everything we do in the studio each day. To get you thinking about how much you love your dancers, here are five videos of kids dancing that are sure to make your heart happy! We want to see the dancers you're thankful for this season, too, so share your favorite videos on social media, tag us and include #gratitudedance in the caption. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

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Dancer Health
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No matter how hard I work to change it, I'm often told that I have a shallow plié. Is there any hope for improving the depth of my plié through special stretches to make it juicier? I'm doing a lot of exercises, but I don't seem to getting any results. Looking forward to reading your advice. Thanks!

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Videos

When New York City–based dancer Dan Lai began choreographing Figure 8, he had a specific vision in mind. Inspired by a song by FKA Twigs, he wanted the movement to represent the music's "dark and twisted vibe." "My thought process was to make shapes and phrases that were abstract and unique that complimented the intricate beats of the music," he says.

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Science has proven again, again that dancing is just, well, good for you. And not even in moderation. Like drinking water or laughing, there's no such thing as too much dancing. So, let's rejoice for this new dance perk to add to the list.

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Dancer Health
To make dancers stronger and less injury-prone, Burns Wilson suggest adding floor barre or conditioning classes. Photo courtesy of Burns Wilson

With a career spanning 30-plus years in the dance field, Anneliese Burns Wilson has cultivated a unique perspective on health and injury prevention for dancers. From teaching ballet to teaching anatomy, she then founded ABC for Dance, which publishes dance-teaching materials. Now through research for her next book, which will focus on training the female adolescent dancer, she's delving even deeper into topics many dance teachers have overlooked.

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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, her teacher Kirsten Cooper taught her that focused transitions would be pivotal to her success as a dancer. Now as a professional, Erdmann applies this advice to her daily performances, asserting that she will never let the details of her dancing get blurry.

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