When out-of-town visitors attend Kat Wildish’s class at The Ailey Studios, she likes to suggest they have their photo taken in the corner window. From six floors up, the view of New York City is iconic. Yes, for a serious recreational adult dancer, dropping in on Wildish’s class is as much a part of a visit to The Big Apple as the Statue of Liberty for a tourist of another ilk. In fact, when we attended the adult beginning ballet class for the DT cover shoot, Wildish told me that one woman is even planning to take a sabbatical from her job to study for 12 weeks in NYC, leading up to one of Wildish’s popular Performing in NY Showcases. “It’s a dream to perform in New York,” says Wildish, who produces the Showcase three times a year, including an excerpt of a classical work for her ballet students, plus a roster of guest choreographers and companies. The Showcase is part of her unique brand as a freelance teacher. In “The Freelance Zone,” you’ll hear from her and eight others on how they manage their careers.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are the committed studio owners who manage businesses in addition to teaching dance. They invest in location, staff and progressive curriculum for their students. They manage relationships with costume vendors, competition companies and parents. We hear all too frequently that these dance teachers turned businesspeople struggle with guilt about running a profitable business. In “Quit Apologizing for Making Money,” Carole Royal of Royal Dance Works talks about her own personal struggle and how she resolved it. She’s an inspiration!

Kat Wildish adds to the view from the sixth floor of The Ailey Studios.

February is the month when we focus on career advice in Dance Teacher. Whether you’re a business owner or independent instructor, or work in K–12 or the university setting, you’ll find something in this issue for you.

  • In “The Social Divide,” K–12 dance teachers run International Dance Clubs to help build community among diverse student populations.
  • In “Private Lessons,” Julie Diana shares tips about making your time count in this growing component of a dance teacher’s portfolio.
  • College dancers and choreographers begin gathering this month at regional conferences for the American College Dance Festival Association. In “Face to Face,” Gerri Houlihan relates her experiences on the adjudication panel.

Don’t forget to nominate your colleagues and mentors for the annual Dance Teacher Awards before March 1. We will honor four educators at the 2014 Dance Teacher Summit in NYC. For more information, see dance-teacher.com (DT Awards/Nominate).

Photos (from top) by Matthew Murphy; Kyle Froman
Dancer Health

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).

Mary Armentrout, a dance teacher, choreographer and Feldenkrais practitioner, shares three ways that this somatic practice can bolster your students' training.

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Oversexualizing young kids has been a hot topic among dance teachers in recent years. It's arguably the most controversial topic teachers and studio owners are faced with. Deciding which choreography, music or costumes are appropriate—or not—isn't always black and white and can be easily overlooked. Is showing the midriff too much for minis? Is this choreography too provocative? Is this popular song too suggestive for a competition piece? The questions can seem endless with no clear objective answers. Until now.

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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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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

For Parisa Khobdeh, music does more than set the tone for a piece—it's enabled her to connect with movement. And once she joined Paul Taylor Dance Company in 2003, Taylor's body of work deepened this connection. "His choreography showed me the music, the architecture and the space," she says. "I now see the music."

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Dance Buzz

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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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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