Teaching Tips

Ask Deb: How Do I Get Students Prepped to Go Onstage?

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Q: Do you know of any strategies teachers could use to get their students confident, focused and ready to go onstage?

A: Something you can try with your students before the next performance is a power pose. It's based on research by psychologist Amy Cuddy that looks at the connections between power and body language (you can watch her whole TED Talk about it online). She found that when she placed someone in a power pose for two minutes, their testosterone levels went up, and their cortisol, a stress hormone, went down.

A power pose is open and strong, and can be done either standing or sitting down. Think of how runners cross the finish line—hands up, chest open with a smile on their face. Have your students try standing with their feet slightly apart and hands on their hips—I like to call this a Peter Pan posture. When they're in their power pose, tell them to feel confidence radiating from their heart like sunshine, to feel their energy and body expanding. Continue encouraging them to get present and strong in their energy as you keep an eye on the clock—it only takes two minutes to change their body chemistry.

Encourage them to use this technique even when they are by themselves. It's particularly powerful if a person does it in front of a mirror while telling their reflection "You've got this!" Use the power-pose trick whenever you or your students need an extra boost of confidence.

Teaching Tips
Courtesy Jill Randall

Fall may be fast-approaching, but it's never too late to slip in a little summer reading—especially if it'll make you all the more prepared for the perhaps crazier-than-usual season ahead.

Here are six new releases to enrich your coming school year:

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Sponsored by A Wish Come True
Courtesy A Wish Come True

Studio owners who've been in the recital game for a while have likely seen thousands of dance costumes pass through their hands.

But with the hustle and bustle of recital time, we don't always stop to think about where exactly those costumes are coming from, or how they are made.

If we want our costumes to be of the same high quality as our dancing—and for our costume-buying process to be as seamless as possible—it helps to take the time to learn a bit more about those costumes and the companies making them.

We talked to the team at A Wish Come True—who makes all their costumes at their factory in Bristol, Pennsylvania—to get an inside look at what really goes into making a costume, from conception to stage.

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Studio Owners

Jana Belot's 31-year-old New Jersey–based Gotta Dance has six studios, 1,720 students and, usually, 13 recitals. In a normal year, Belot rents a 1,000-seat venue for up to 20 consecutive days and is known for her epic productions, featuring her studio classes and Gotta Dance's pre-professional dance team, Showstoppers. Until March, she was planning this year's jungle-themed recital in this same way.

When the pandemic hit, Belot soon decided to do a virtual recital instead. Due to the scale of the production—300 to 500 dancers performing in each of the 13 shows—postponing or moving to an outdoor venue wasn't practical. (Canceling, for her, was out of the question.)

Unsurprisingly, Belot's virtual recital was just as epic as her in-person shows—with 10,000 submitted videos, animation, musicians and more. Here's how it all came together, and what it cost her.

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