Ah, winter break: two to four weeks of well-deserved time off. While you might just feel like using your break to become one with the couch (no judgment!), we have a few ideas you should hear on how to prep for the best spring semester ever.


Get Ahead of the Game

After finals, the last thing you feel like doing is signing up for more classes. But if your university offers a January term, you should consider taking advantage—especially if you're double-majoring or graduating early. University of Arizona senior Michaela Harrington (a double major in dance and neuroscience) says if your school doesn't offer a winter session, you might look into whether a community college course taken during the break could count towards general-education requirements—or if your school offers winter courses online.

Tune Up Your Time Management

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The slog from midterms to finals can reveal cracks in even the most put-together dancer's organizational skills. "When you finally stop moving, you have time to reflect and question what may benefit you most next semester," says University of Arizona associate professor of dance and undergraduate advisor Elizabeth George-Fesch. "When you're in the midst of the semester again, you won't have time to do a lot of self-reflection." Use this time off to reflect on what might've gone wrong this fall, and how you might avoid similar pitfalls in the spring.

Choose Your Own (Cross-Training) Adventure

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Professor George-Fesch says many U of Arizona dancers focus on Pilates, yoga, or another kind of cross-training during winter break: "They're giving their bodies a break from dance, but they're still moving and staying in shape." Cross-training over break is especially important if you've recently recovered from an injury, or if your spring schedule will be heavy on technique classes or demanding rehearsals.

Do a Different Dance

Thinking of teaching dance in the future? Volunteer at your home studio. Are you a bunhead who's always been curious about tap? Now's your chance. Or maybe you'll explore different choreographic ideas on your own, without the stress of an assignment. Point is, time off can be a rare pressure-free opportunity to explore new facets of your passion for dance.

Or Give Yourself a Break!

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"Going into senior year, I've realized a lot of students have a semester where they bite off more than they can chew," says Harrington. "It's important to understand when it's too much for you." TL;DR: it's more than OK to spend these weeks off relaxing and spending time with family and friends back home. The more rested and refreshed you are heading back to school, the better you'll dance, study, and—most importantly—feel.

The Conversation
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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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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Susannah Israel-Marchese with students at School of Ballet Hartford; photo by Frank Marchese, courtesy of SBH

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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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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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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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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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Like many dance traditions, it started at the Paris Opéra. (Edgar Degas' "The Dance Class")

The dance world is brimming with superstitions. One of the most common is never to say "good luck" before a show, since everyone knows uttering the phrase is, in fact, very bad luck. Actors say "break a leg" instead. But since that phrase isn't exactly dance-friendly, you and your dance friends probably tell each other "merde" before taking the stage.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "merde" is a French exclamation that loosely translates to, er, "poop." So how did dancers end up saying "merde" to each other instead of "good luck"?

To learn more, we spoke to Raymond Lukens, associate emeritus of the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum, and Kelli Rhodes-Stevens, professor of dance at Oklahoma City University. Read on—and the next time you exchange "merdes" with your castmates before a show, you'll know why.

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via YouTube

We knew we adored Ben Platt when we saw him sing his heart out through sobs in Dear Evan Hansen back in 2016, but now that he's put out a music video with some fantastic dancers as the titular characters, we are positively in love with him!

Check out the emotional new music video to, "Grow as We Go" with Rudy Abreu and Effie Tutko. The L.A. superstars are positively stunning in it! Let us know if you agree over on our Facebook page.

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