Teaching Tips

Across-the-Floor Combo Inspiration for Your Class From Top Teachers

Photo courtesy of Koelliker

Sick of doing the same old stuff in technique class? Needing some across-the-floor combo inspiration? We caught up with three teachers from different areas of the country to bring you some of their favorite material for their day-to-day classes.

You're welcome!


Nick Lanzisera: Millennium Dance Complex, Edge Performing Arts Center and Transcend Dance Convention

Go-to across-the-floor combo (perfect for a teen convention room!)

Photo by Aidan Gibney, courtesy of Lanzisera

1. Chassé arabesque.

2. Pass through passé and prepare.

3. Double or triple pirouette.

4. Plié chaîné into a sustained fankick, hold.

5. Break into an attitude.

6. Slide into a step, step grande jeté.

"The goal is to do it once normal, and then a second time but with movement quality added."


Karli Koelliker: Dance Academy USA, Cupertino, California

Simple across-the-floor to warm up turns

Photo courtesy of Koelliker

"I love this one because it is super-simple, but works a lot of things. I think sometimes kids just need to go back to basics before diving into really hard turns/tricks/etc. This combo will help them find their center, high relevé and control."

1. Start facing the mirror.

2. In plié (make sure they are working into the floor with strong arms) take four steps (right, then cross behind left, then right then into prep for pirouette) counts 1,2,3,4.

2. Hold passé for counts 5 and 6, then plié with a forced arch, and extend the arms to second on counts 7,8.

3. Repeat the initial four steps in plié facing the mirror.

4. Next, do a single pirouette (very slow and controlled) on counts 5,6, then hold and plié into forced arch with extended arms into second on counts 7,8.

5. Again, repeat the four steps in plié facing the mirror.

6. This time, do a double pirouette on counts 5,6, then stop and hold in forced arch with extended arms on counts 7,8.

7. Finally, repeat four steps in plié facing the mirror.

8. Go for a quad on 5,6,7,8.


Laila Hardman: Technique teacher at Studio C in Boise, Idaho. Founder of London Dance Project in London, England; and owner of The Dance Project SLC in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Favorite technique combination for spotting


"This combination helps dancers perfect spotting and directional changes, while challenging their minds to think."

1. Start with a pas de bourrée on your right foot facing the front.

2. Next, do a half pas de bourrée, which turns your body to face the back and lunge.

3. Single turn to the back with the balance.

4. Repeat steps but start facing the back, and finishing with a lunge to the front.

5. Do one-and-a-half turns to finish facing back.

6. Then do another pas de bourrée + half bourrée to lunge front.

7. Double pirouette to finish front.

8. Finally do another pas de bourrée plus half bourrée to lunge back.

9. Two-and-a-half pirouettes facing front to finish.

Technique
Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

Not so long ago, it seemed that ballet dancers were always encouraged to pull up away from the floor. Ideas evolved, and more recently it has become common to hear teachers saying "Push down to go up," and variations on that concept.

Charla Genn, a New York City–based coach and dance rehabilitation specialist who teaches company class for Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Hispánico, says that this causes its own problems.

"Often when we tell dancers to go down, they physically push down, or think they have to plié more," she says. These are misconceptions that keep dancers from, among other things, jumping to their full potential.

To help dancers learn to efficiently use what she calls "Mother Marley," Genn has developed these clever techniques and teaching tools.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.