Teachers & Role Models

Teachers Share Their Go-to Daily Tools for Success–Part 4

Share with DT on Facebook the tools and daily routines that inspire you. Thinkstock

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.

Thinkstock

Students need strong feet for pointe work, but few concentrate on their toes specifically. "Fatigue sets in and they start knuckling," says Atlanta Ballet podiatrist Dr. Frank Sinkoe. This puts excess pressure on the nails, causing bruising. The exercises below strengthen the arch and intrinsic muscles, which flex the toes and support the feet.

Keep reading... Show less
What are your non-negotiables? Share on Dance Teacher's Facebook page.

It could be argued that half the battle of owning a dance studio is getting people to follow the rules. To ensure your business will run like a well-oiled machine, it helps to have clear expectations in place for students and their families—and, most important, to make sure everyone knows them from day one. Of course, every school is unique, and behavior that may be acceptable to you might be out of the question for someone else. "There are so many studios out there," says Dana McGuire, a studio co-owner in North Kansas City, Missouri. "Know and stand by what you're about." Here, four seasoned studio directors discuss the issues they consider non-negotiable.

Keep reading... Show less
Thinkstock

I have a student who's going through a growth spurt, and I'm wondering what advice I should give her. Is there anything you recommend?

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Buzz

When Sierra McCauley was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma cancer five years ago at age 6, that didn't stop her from continuing to compete with her studio, Sonya's Dance Zone, in Columbus, Indiana. Despite six months of chemotherapy, McCauley even competed in a Nationals. "I remember going onstage without any hair and a bow taped to my head," she says.

During her stay at Riley Hospital for Children, McCauley made several friends, a few of whom sadly passed away during their struggles with cancer. Last year, she performed a special tribute dance to honor those friends. Now, she's created a social media challenge to help raise funds for the Riley Children's Foundation: #dancerbeatingcancer. The challenge's premise is simple, just like the #IceBucketChallenge from 2014—you post a short video of yourself dancing to Meghan Trainor's "Better When I'm Dancin'" and challenge others to do the same, tagging your post with #dancerbeatingcancer. Then, you head to the Riley Children's Foundation donation page to donate funding for pediatric research.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers & Role Models
"We hire dancers based on more than skill," says Nan. "I ask myself, 'What are they like as people?" Photo by Quinn Wharton

It's no easy task to follow in the footsteps of a legend. It's harder still to not just follow but also take the lead. Nan Giordano, daughter of jazz-dance icon Gus Giordano, has done just that, and she's doing it with unwavering dynamism and a tenacity that has kept her father's company, Giordano Dance Chicago, not only alive but thriving after 55 years.

Gus Giordano, a venerable founding father of jazz dance, traveled the globe teaching his iconic technique, inspired generations of dancers at his school and founded a company that became a staple in the Chicago dance scene and known around the world. Nan has been part of this company for 40 years—as a dancer, a partner to her father and now as artistic director. Today, she has cultivated an eclectic repertoire for its dancers, who have a full performance and tour schedule; she is fostering a growing education-and-outreach program; and she is overseeing the planning of a new home. "We're not just perpetuating my dad's name," Nan says. "We're elevating his legacy and building on the foundation he created."

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers & Role Models
"I had to figure out how Graham technique informs the body in ways that other techniques don't address," says Kim Stroud. Photo courtesy of Stroud

When it comes to teaching dance, teachers often find themselves wishing they had 10 more minutes to fit in that final grand jeté sequence across the floor or the last 16 counts of the hip-hop combination they prepared. In a K–12 environment, a time crunch is even more likely. Between increasingly limited slots for arts electives and the challenges of navigating a block schedule, time is a precious commodity. Here, three seasoned K–12 educators share their strategies for making every minute count.

Keep reading... Show less
Judith Jamison celebrating Alvin Ailey. Photo by Tiba Vieira, courtesy of Ailey Extension

When you're offered a chance to take a class with Judith Jamison, you don't say no.

The company's beloved artistic director emerita rarely teaches open classes. But to celebrate the legacy of Alvin Ailey on what would have been his 87th birthday, she gave a special two-hour workshop at the Ailey Extension on Friday night. I had to try it, even though I was desperately hoping that she wouldn't make us do any Horton coccyx balances. (Spoiler alert: She did.)

So what's it like to take class with the larger-than-life icon?

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox

Win It!

Sponsored