Dance News
Photo by Rachel Papo

When Monica Stephenson was a student at Houston Ballet Academy, she was cast as Lauren Anderson's swan double in Swan Lake. The role was just a few walks in Odile's tutu and a veil as the scene changed, but it was a thrill for the 18-year-old Stephenson. Anderson, one of the few principal ballerinas of color, was the inspiration for Stephenson to attend Houston Ballet Academy.

For the role, wardrobe gave Stephenson a few pairs of Anderson's special-order pointe shoes that were brown to match her skin tone. "That really helped me," Stephenson says. "I wound up wearing her specs my entire career. Sometimes people don't realize when they're impacting a young person."

Stephenson never forgot what it meant to have a role model like Anderson. She knew she'd want to inspire ballet students of color herself someday.

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Dance Teacher Tips
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As dance teachers, we don't have much patience for goofing off. Case in point: Some of our trademark phrases are, "Stretch your legs not your mouths," and "If you have time to talk, you have time to go over the choreography." We are all about efficiency 💁♀️. So, the idea of celebrating National Goof Off Day may sound like the most absurd thing in the world to you, but hear us out. Your dancers work hard, and they sacrifice so much in order to pursue their dreams with you each day. Odds are, they need a break, and one day of goofing off may just be the thing that will help them recharge and come back more focused than ever.

Here's what you can do during class that will help your dancers grow as artists, while allowing them to let loose and chill out. Enjoy!

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Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Courtesy Harlequin Floors

Just like your car, your studio needs periodic tune-ups to keep it humming along smoothly. If you take the time to address a few small fixes, your business will stand out. And you don't have to break the bank, either—you might be surprised how low-cost, DIY improvements can make a surprising difference.

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Dancer Health
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Q: My daughter was recently told that her hyperextended knees are causing her hips to sway out, which is inhibiting her ability to get over on the box of her pointe shoes. She had a significant growth spurt in the past year, could this be part of the problem? Can things be corrected, and what kind of time frame am I looking at?

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Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Kyle Froman

To a certain subset of the New York City dance community, Gail Accardi is known as the Body Whisperer. For her part, Accardi calls her work "creative physical problem solving." Whether she's leading her Anatomy Awareness class for dancers, substitute-teaching Simonson Technique, or working with a private client one-on-one, Accardi has a clear vision: "I want people to gain insight into and learn to celebrate their individual structures," she says. "When I was young, a teacher referred to my weak arches as a horrible defect! I never want a student to experience that. When it comes to anatomical variations, this is who you are, so let's figure out how to work with it."

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Competition is a dance teacher's battleground, and in order to be victorious, you need to have a few defenses in your bag at all times. You never know when something unexpected will happen, and your students will need their trusty dance teacher/hero to come in and fix everything. To help you be the most prepared you can be, we've compiled a list of essentials you should have on you at all times during competition. Keep them with you, and the weekend is yours for the taking!

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Dance Teacher Tips
Susannah Israel-Marchese with students at School of Ballet Hartford; photo by Frank Marchese, courtesy of SBH

At Michigan Ballet Academy, artistic director Irina Vassileni meets with a group of eager young students and their parents. She holds a shiny new pair of pointe shoes in one hand and an old, worn pair in the other. "I show them all the details, inside and out, and how working on pointe for hours will break down the shoe," says Vassileni. "I might even bring in different models and talk about how they're made. Parents need a lot of information to make them feel comfortable about their children going on pointe."

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Just for fun
Photo via @bettycrocker on Instagram

Here at Dance Teacher, we never miss out on a chance to help you be super EXTRA for the holidays. This month, we give you recipes to four different St. Patrick's Day treats you might consider handing out in class for your studio's celebration. Your dancers will love the festiveness, and you can use them as bribery for good behavior if you're feeling desperate (guilty 🙋♀️).

Check them out, and let us know what kinds of treats you like to make at your studio for St. Patrick's Day!

Oh, and you're welcome!

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Just for fun
Noe Leilani via @joandjax on Instagram

It's officially March, and you know what that means—green dance gear all around! Your students will come to class looking like jolly-green leprechauns, and you wouldn't have it any other way—it's way too much fun! To help you and your dancers find your best green getup, here are three green outfit ideas that will fulfill all your St. Patrick's Day needs. No pinching needed!

You're welcome!

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When it comes to running a thriving dance studio, Cindy Clough knows what she's talking about. As executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner for more than four decades, she's all too aware of the unique challenges the job presents, from teaching to scheduling to managing employees and clients.

Here, Clough shares her best advice for new studio owners, and the answers to some common questions that come up when you're getting started.

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Cleaning competition numbers is a process—and a difficult one at that. Making your dancers look cohesive without draining them of their passion and individuality can feel like an impossible task.

Here are some tips and tricks that may make it easier for you!

You're welcome.

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Emily Giacalone, modeled by Nicole Kennedy of Marymount Manhattan College

We get it: Dance is exhausting, and sometimes all you want to do during a quick break is, well, nothing. Bill Evans, director of the Evans Somatic Dance Institute, recommends the following options, which are both relaxing and recuperative for the stresses dance puts on your body. From energizing restorative poses to deep breathing, here are five ways to make your downtime work for you.

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Dance Teacher Tips
Amber Johnson at Deland Middle School. Courtesy of DMS

For a young student in the process of developing bodily awareness, a hands-on adjustment by a teacher can mean the difference between safe and incorrect alignment. But in many K–12 schools today, a hands-on approach is frowned upon or sometimes even forbidden. With dance being a kinesthetic art, this limitation presents a predicament for K–12 dance teachers. Here, two teachers share their views on whether to use touch in class and, if so, how they go about it.

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