Five years ago, Ashley Daychak of Performing Dance Arts in Toronto set a goal to win The Dance Awards 2018 Studio of the Year. Each year in preparation, she went to Break The Floor Nationals and watched the competition. She watched and learned what worked and what didn't, and asked detailed questions of her peers who had previously earned the honor. She would apply what she learned each season to her rehearsals and technique classes. This past summer in Orlando, she made it happen.


"I was very patient," Daychak says. "I knew what needed to be done. I groomed everyone properly and got the right people into the studio when I needed to. I wanted to go up onstage and show a complete, well-rounded body of work to all of these artists who I admire so much. I feel like we were able to do that."

The development of that well-rounded body of work began with getting everyone's technique on the same level. "From the back to the front we needed to look totally solid," Daychak says. "I didn't want to have to choreograph around anyone who couldn't keep up, and I didn't want to have to break the team up in any way. I wanted to do this as a family."

Her five competition teams (65 dancers total) trained four to five hours a day, every other day of the week, and Daychak says they developed a stamina and focus that was unbelievable, even to her. "By the time we went out there and performed, we were able to just have fun and enjoy the experience," she says. "We had put the work in ahead of time and were totally prepared, so there was nothing to worry about."

GO-TO IN-CLASS TEACHING TOOLS "We use yoga blocks and a series of different weighted Pilates balls. We also use markers to write down counts, daily reminders and diagrams of the formations on the mirrors."

DAILY BREAKFAST "In the morning, I typically have hard-boiled egg whites, an English muffin with peanut butter and at least three cups of coffee before I leave the house!"

FAVORITE FITNESS ROUTINE "I stay in shape by going to the gym two to three times a week. I like to work one-on-one with my trainer, and I try to keep that as consistent as possible. I find that working out is a great way to relieve stress and have some 'me' time."

MUST-HAVE TEACHING ATTIRE "I typically wear Adidas, Aritzia TNA or Lululemon brands. I like to wear leggings or formfitted sweats with a tank or T-shirt, and I'm always layered with a sweater—generally one from our PDA studio."

The Conversation
Dance Teacher Tips
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James Payne, director of The School of Pennsylvania Ballet, starts class each day by asking students how they feel. "If they're collectively hurting, and I know that the day before they were working hard on something new, I might lessen the intensity of the class," he says. "I won't slow it down, though. Sometimes it's better to move through the aches and get to the other side."

A productive class depends, in part, on how well it is paced. If you move too slow, you risk losing students' interest and creating unwanted heaviness. Move too fast and dancers might not fully benefit from combinations or get sufficiently warm, increasing their risk of injury. But even these guidelines may differ depending on the students' age and level. Good pacing is a delicate balance that can facilitate mental and physical growth, but it requires good planning, close observation and the ability to adapt mid-class.

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Sponsored by Dance Teacher Web
Courtesy Dance Teacher Web

Dance students aren't the only ones who get to spend their summers learning new skills and refining their dance practice. Studio owners and administrators can also use the summer months to scope out new curriculum ideas, learn the latest business strategies and even earn a certification or two.

At Dance Teacher Web's Conference and Expo, attendees will spend July 29–August 1 in Las Vegas, Nevada learning everything from new teaching methods to studio management software. And as if the dance and business seminars weren't enough, participants can also choose from three certifications to earn during the conference to help expand their expertise, generate new revenue and set their studios apart:

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Q: Our dancers' parents want to observe class, but students won't focus if I let them in the room. I've tried having them observe the last 10 minutes of class, but even that can be disruptive and bring the dancers' progress to a halt. Do you have any advice on how to handle this?

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David Galindo Photography

New York City is a dream destination for many dancers. However aspiring Broadway stars don't have to wait until they're pros to experience all the city has to offer. With Dance the World Broadway, students can get a taste of the Big Apple—plus hone their dance skills and make lasting memories.

Here's why Dance the World Broadway is the best way for students to experience NYC:

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Studio Owners
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Running your own studio often comes with a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps mentality. After all, you're the one who teaches class, creates choreography, collects tuition, plans a recital, calls parents, answers e-mails, orders costumes—plus a host of other tasks, some of which you probably don't even think about. But what if you had someone to help you, someone who could take certain routine or clerical tasks off your hands, freeing you up to focus on what you love?

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Courtesy of Roxey Ballet

This weekend, Roxey Ballet presented a sensory-friendly production of Cinderella at the Kendell Main Stage Theater in Ewing, New Jersey, with sound adjustments, a relaxed house environment and volunteers present to assist audience members with special needs. The production came on the heels of three educational residencies held at New Jersey–based elementary schools in honor of Autism Awareness Month in April.

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To Share With Students
Shared via Dance Teacher Network Facebook

I'm a part of a popular group on Facebook called Dance Teacher Network which consists of dance teachers across the country discussing and sharing information on all things dance. Yesterday morning, I spotted a photo shared in the group of four smiling young boys in a dance studio. And I couldn't help but smile to myself and think, "Wow, I never had that...that's pretty damn amazing."

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Dance Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy of Marr

When Erica Marr discovered ballroom dancing in her late teens, she instantly fell in love with the Latin beats and strong drum lines that challenged her musicality. After shifting her focus away from contemporary and jazz, she began studying with elite ballroom coaches in New York City and quickly earned a World Championship title in her division.

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Studio Owners
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Q: I own a studio in a city that has a competitive dance market. I've seen other studios in my community put ads on Instagram and Facebook for open-call auditions in April, long before most studios have finished their competition season and year-end recitals. Is this fair?

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Dancer Health
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Q: How can I improve my pointed feet?

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Just for fun
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Did you know there is an annual contest in which scientists turn their PhD research into dance? Well there is, and it's even better than you're imagining! I mean, honestly, if our grade-school science teachers had us turn our schoolwork into dances, we may have enjoyed chemistry a bit more 🤣.

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