6 Props for Creative Movement

Keeping your little ones interested gets a whole lot easier when you bust out the prop box.

Tactillos These rubbery stepping stones make for great tactile discovery—students will love walking on them with bare feet. Best for: toddlers Where to find them: tfhsensoryactivities.com; $99 for a set of 5

Scarves Use multicolored juggling scarves to demonstrate movement quality (smooth versus sharp, free versus bound). Best for: ages 5–6 Where to find them: discountschoolsupply.com; $15.99 for a set of 12

Hoops Create a mini-obstacle course—have students jump over, crawl through or step in and out of them. Bonus: Get collapsible hoops to make traveling with them a breeze. Best for: ages 3–6 Where to find them: orientaltrading.com; $9.99 each

Shakers Students will love having a hand in the class’ musical accompaniment—but be aware that your littlest ones might have a hard time keeping the shakers out of their mouths. Best for: ages 4–6 Where to find them: westmusic.com; $1.50 each

Dots Help your youngsters master spacing by assigning them each a dot to stand on. Or pile the dots up and practice balancing by having your students step on and off the pile. Best for: toddlers Where to find them: musicmotion.com; $24 for a set of 35

Parachute Sure to be the all-star prop in your arsenal, the parachute can become anything, from a Twister board (to work on spatial and body awareness) to a storytelling aid (small shakes equal a bumpy road; ripples become an ocean’s waves). Best for: ages 4–6 Where to find it: wayfair.com; $35.99

Teachers Trending
Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

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Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

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Dancer Diary
Claire, McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

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