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A Letter to Dance Teachers Everywhere: Please Take Care of Yourselves This Dance Year

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Dear Dance Teachers,

We adore you. You help make dancers' dreams come true. You give them the tools to become phenomenal performers and capable human beings. You. Are. Wonderful.

It's because of our undying love and devotion that we feel the need to write to you today. As we approach another exciting year of dance classes, we want to remind you to take care of yourselves.


Remember....

1. It's OK to say no to extra rehearsals that encroach on time set aside for your family, religion, physical health, mental health or self-care obligations.

2. It's OK to stand up to parents who don't respect you.

3. It's OK to take a sick day when you need it.

4. It's OK to see a therapist.

5. It's OK to say no to props (they're fab, but also, they might be your emotional demise, so be careful!).

6. It's OK to delegate.

7. It's OK to be honest and vulnerable with your students.

8. It's OK (and we can't emphasize this enough) to eat some chocolate when you need it.

In the end, you need to put the oxygen mask on yourselves before you can help anyone else. Prioritize yourself so you can be the very best teacher possibe this season.

We love you and are rooting for you!

All the best,

Your adoring fans

Teachers Trending
Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy. Photo courtesy Dance With Me

Listening to Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy riff together makes it crystal-clear why each has mastered the art of partnering in the ballroom—they've long been doing this dance in real life as brothers and business partners.

Along with their "Dancing with the Stars" pedigree (and a combined three mirror-ball trophies between them), Maks and Val (and their father, Sasha) also run Dance With Me, a dance company hosting six ProAm Dancesport competitions annually and running 14 brick-and-mortar studio locations across the U.S.

Last year, the pair launched an online component, Dance & Co. The online video platform offers beginner through advanced instruction in not only ballroom but an array of other styles, as well as dance fitness classes from HIIT to yoga to strength training. "DWTS" fans will recognize such familiar faces as Peta Murgatroyd, Jenna Johnson, Sharna Burgess and Emma Slater, along with Maks and Val themselves.

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@jayplayimagery, courtesy Kerollis

In the spring of 2012, Barry Kerollis was abruptly forced into treating his career as a small business. Having just moved cross-country to join BalletX, he got injured and was soon let go.

"I'd only ever danced with big companies before," the now-freelance dance-teacher-choreographer-podcaster recalls. "That desperation factor drove me to approach freelancing with a business model and a business plan."

As Kerollis acknowledges, getting the business of you off the ground ("you" as a freelance dance educator, that is) can be filled with unexpected challenges—even for the most seasoned of gigging dancers. But becoming your own CEO can make your work–life balance more sustainable, help you make more money, keep you organized, and get potential employers to offer you more respect and improved working conditions. Here's how to get smart now about branding, finances and other crucial ways to tell the dance world that you mean business.

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Courtesy Oleson

American dance educator Shannon Oleson was teaching recreational ballet and street-dance classes in London when the pandemic hit. As she watched many of her fellow U.S. friends pack up and return home from their international adventures, she made the difficult choice to stick with her students (as well as her own training—she was midway through her MFA at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance).

Despite shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders, she was able to maintain a teaching schedule that kept her working with her dancers through Zoom, as well as lead some private, in-home acro classes following government guidelines. But keeping rec students interested in the face of pandemic fatigue hasn't been easy.

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