You and your phone have more in common than you might guess, says Dr. Rafael Pelayo, pediatrician and clinical professor at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine. "If you charge your phone halfway, it works for a few hours," he explains. "But it's not performing at its full potential, and you have to be careful about how you use that energy."

It'd be nice to just plug into the wall for nine hours until you hit 100 percent battery, but for (human) dancers, it's not that simple. So DS asked Dr. Pelayo and Dr. Argelinda Baroni, co-director of the Child and Adolescent Sleep Program in the department of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone Health, how to maximize your own battery life—ensuring you'll dance better and more safely in the process.


Mistake #1: Underestimating the effects of caffeine

"Caffeine is the devil!" says Baroni. If that sounds extreme, consider this: Caffeine stays in our bodies for six hours on average. If you drink a cup of coffee at 4 pm to jumpstart an afternoon of dancing, that's the equivalent of drinking half a cup at 10 pm. "Even if you have no trouble falling asleep, caffeine blocks adenosine receptors, making your sleep less deep," explains Baroni. "You wake up less rested."

The Fix: "If you like coffee and you're used to it, drink only decaf in the afternoon," says Baroni. "It sounds harsh, but it's super-effective in making you sleep better and need less caffeine."

Mistake #2: "Catching up" on sleep over the weekend

Long rehearsals, late-afternoon classes, and hours of homework have a way of interfering with weeknight shut-eye. But catching up on sleep after the fact is not actually a thing. "You wouldn't stop eating Monday through Friday, then gorge yourself over the weekend," says Pelayo. "Even if you skip sleep completely one night, you don't sleep 16 hours the next. Ten hours or so is the most your brain allows based on evolutionary needs." And one to two extra hours on the weekend won't negate an ongoing or acute sleep deficit.

The Fix: Get the sleep you need, when you need it. This is one area where procrastination is really not your friend.

Mistake #3: Being left to your own devices

We're talking about electronic devices, like phones, tablets, and laptops. Using these bad boys close to bedtime can make you toss and turn because they emit blue light, which interferes with production of melatonin (the hormone that helps you drift off). "You might think watching a movie or chatting with friends helps you relax after a stressful night at the studio, but the screen (and the need to be constantly connected) interferes with your ability to sleep, and your sleep quality," says Baroni.

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The Fix: Give your devices their own bedtime an hour or two before you nod off. Have last-minute homework on the computer? Turn on the "nighttime" display mode, and turn the brightness down.

Mistake #4: Abusing naps

Ever gotten up from a nap only to feel groggier than before? You probably slept too long or too late in the day. "Too long or late of a nap gets you into deep sleep," says Pelayo, "so you feel more tired as soon as you wake up." (Don't rely on napping to make up for last night's insufficient sleep, either—shorter sessions don't allow you to enter the deeper sleep stages in which complex mental and physical rest and repair occur.)

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The Fix: "Nap between 3 and 4 pm for no more than a half hour," Baroni says. "I would never suggest anybody nap at 5 pm or later."

Mistake #5: Changing "time zones" every Monday and Friday

Do you wake up at 6 am for school, but sleep until noon whenever you don't have morning dance commitments on the weekend? "That's the same amount of 'jet lag' as going to Paris for the weekend," says Baroni, and it can make falling asleep on Sunday night much harder.

The Fix: "Avoid sleeping marathons, and keep wakeup times within a two- or three-hour range," advises Baroni. "If you wake up at 6 am Monday through Friday, don't sleep later than 8 or 9 am on Saturday and Sunday."

The Conversation
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It's February! The month of love (and by extension, the month of pink) is upon us. We are major fans of a good class theme, and dressing lovey-dovey is one of our very favorites! So this month, to keep you on brand, we have a list of our favorite pink leos on the market right now. They're all kinds of wonderful.

Check them out and let us know your favorite in the comments!

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It's the day after Valentine's Day, and every single one of us is in a chocolate coma scrolling through endless love posts on social media. It's both the best and the worst day of the year 😂. Obnoxiously mushy Instagram captions aside, whether you have a significant other or not, we all know that your studio co-workers are the actual loves of your life.

Check out our five reasons why, and let us know over in our comments if we got 'em right!

XOXO

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Q: Do you have any advice for dividing students into groups?

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In Antoine Hunter's jazz class, students inevitably pick up sign language just by virtue of being his student. Though he doesn't typically incorporate ASL into his class combos, this dynamic phrase, which is one of his favorites, includes four signs: "heart," " re," "gone" and "deaf."

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The Big Apple Tap Fest, courtesy of Dee

Debbi Dee took her first tap class at age 5 from vaudevillian hoofer and rhythm tapper Curly Fisher, in Rochester, New York. She studied tirelessly with him in the garage he had turned into a small, makeshift dance studio until she was 13 years old, when he claimed he had taken her as far as he could, and she needed to find herself a new teacher. Instead, she jumped feet first into her professional career, tapping with the Lawrence Welk and Count Basie orchestras on the traveling state fair circuit, on the Bob Hope USO shows, and in nightclubs in Vegas and the Catskills.

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We've all had times when we've failed miserably while trying our best to communicate important concepts and ideas to our students. We are all well-meaning with hopes that our dancers will achieve their dreams and become kind humans along the way. Unfortunately, our delivery may need some honing in order to help them without causing some damage,

Here are four common phrases dance teachers often say, and four ways we can adjust them to make them constructive and productive.

Let us know over on our Facebook page what phrases you try to avoid as a dance teacher!

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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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Running a studio can be a major juggling act. It's no surprise, then, that a few things slip through the cracks—costing you money or students. Watch out for two common but often unnoticed mistakes, and you'll find yourself with more time, clients and revenue on your hands.

1. Using online registration as a crutch

If you offer registration via your studio website, make sure you aren't losing clients by neglecting in-person registration. One day Kathy Morrow, director of Dance Du Coeur in Sugar Land,Texas, overheard a front desk staffer directing a new client to the studio's website to register, rather than offering to do it over the phone. "I thought, You had a fish on the hook—why didn't you walk them through it?" she says. "When you register, there are a lot of boxes to check off. Some people want to pay with a check, some to link to a credit card. We can make it easier by answering any questions directly."

2. Not delegating

Have you heard yourself say, once too often, "If I want it done right, I have to do it myself"? Overextending yourself because of perfectionism or a misguided need to control can be counterproductive. By creating choreography, teaching, bookkeeping, cleaning, making phone calls, typesetting, doing payroll, mailings and ordering, you could be leaving no time for the very things that will create your best business. Misty Lown decided to delegate all the teaching at her Onalaska, Wisconsin-based studio, Misty's Dance Unlimited. "Giving up teaching was super-hard," she says, "but it's the best decision I ever made. Whenever I was teaching, it meant I never saw the other five classrooms that were operating during that time. Now I can rotate my time checking on classrooms and interacting with students."

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Working with a 9-year-old student, Alexandra Koltun asks the young girl to face the barre. She reviews fifth position, demi-pointe with the front foot and coupé devant. "I separate all the positions, so the student understands each one," says Koltun, founder and artistic director of Koltun Ballet Boston. She reaches down to shape the girl's foot into sur le cou-de-pied, leaving the heel in front and gently squeezing the toes around the ankle. "This position will equip the foot with more strength," she says.

Depending on a ballet teacher's preference and style of training, sur le cou-de-pied (meaning "on the neck of the foot") may be incorporated into class at different times and in various ways. From steps like pas de cheval to frappé and développé, the wrapped position can be fundamental to a student's technical development. Or it can be used less often and as a supplement to cou-de-pied front and back. Either way, the value of the position remains constant as a tool to mold and strengthen dancers' feet.

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Show your significant other how much you love them through dance! Send them one of your favorite romantic dance videos that best describes your feelings, and they're sure to swoon!

Here are four of our favorites that depict a range of emotions along the spectrum of true love. Let us know over on our Facebook page which one best represents your relationship!

You're welcome in advance!

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The best way to celebrate a holiday in the dance teacher world is to create a class combo that fits the theme! It's a sure-fire way to get you and your kiddos into the spirit of the day! So, Valentine's Day, we recommend some mushy, cheesy, oh-so-wonderful love songs!

Check out these six songs for potential class combo ideas. They're sure to be a hit.

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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