In order to be the best teacher for your students, it's important to maintain the best version of yourself. From workout regimens to favorite snacks and books, three teachers reveal what motivates them to stay on top of their game.


Karen Mills Jennings, Michigan-based Flint School of Performing Arts

Karen Mills Jennings uses the ABT National Training Curriculum to create her lessons plans. Photo by Kadi Reyez, courtesy of Jennings

TEACHING ATTIRE: Capezio dance sneakers, capris ("My favorites are Eurotard"), a Mirella wrap skirt and a turtleneck sweater.

FOR FITNESS: "I try to walk daily, if the weather permits, with my dog Rex. In the winter, it is me on the treadmill and Rex on the couch watching."

Photo courtesy of Jennings

FOR A QUICK SNACK: Activia yogurt and a strawberry streusel Fiber One bar.

FAVORITE NONDANCE ACTIVITY: "I am a huge Detroit Tigers fan! I am always sad when baseball season is over."

RECOMMENDED READING: Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet, by Gail Grant. "It's the bible of ballet vocabulary. We use it as a textbook and make it available for purchase in our school office."

Joshua Trader, Santa Rosa Dance Theater

"Ballet isn't going to come over night. You have to be willing to put in the time," says Trader. Photo courtesy of Diana Dumbadse, courtesy of Santa Rosa Dance Theater

FOR FITNESS: "I enjoy a good bike ride to the studio in the fresh air. It's a great workout that doesn't pound the body with high-impact movements."

TEACHING ATTIRE: Solid-colored V-neck shirt, warm-up pants ("My favorites are from Nike and Adidas") and Sansha split-sole canvas ballet shoes.

TRAINING TOOL: "Sometimes I tie students' legs together with a legwarmer (shown is Capezio) so they can practice keeping them together during chaîné turns."

FAVORITE FOOD: "Growing up in San Francisco, everyone learns to appreciate the art of the Mission-style burrito. The debate over which taqueria makes the best one will never end!"

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: YouTube videos of Erik Bruhn. "I want my students to see dancers from different generations. There's something about Bruhn that you don't see anymore and probably never will again. To me, he is the perfect marriage of artistry and technique."


Ashanté Green, The Dance Institute of Washington

"It's my dream job," says Green. Photo courtesy of Dance Institute of Washington

TRAINING TOOL: "I use a book when teaching my students how to do a flat back. It helps determine whether their alignment is correct or not."

MUST-HAVE FITNESS SUPPLIES: Tennis ball, TheraBand, ankle weights and a jump rope for cardio.

FOR AN ENERGY BOOST: Grapes, blueberries, kiwi and bananas. "I try to stay away from processed food, which brings my energy down. I eat a lot of fruit in between teaching."

INSPIRATIONAL READ: Judith Jamison: Aspects of a Dancer, by Olga Maynard. "This book helps the reader understand what it takes to be an artist—not just a dancer."

FAVORITE FOOTWEAR: Socks (for jazz), barefoot (for modern) and Grishko ballet slippers.

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