Health & Body

Ask Deb: What Advice Do You Have for the Start of a New Dance Year?


As the new school year approaches, I want to apply some new practices to help our dancers make the most recognizable progress this year. Do you have any advice for how to do this?

I've found it quite valuable to start the new year with physical assessments and personal goals to help you measure growth throughout the year.

It can be as simple as lining everyone up and taking short video clips on your phone. Film them doing the splits, jumping in first position, or a plié, rélevé combination. Shooting a couple videos won't take much time and is a way to document where they are at the beginning and end of the dance year.

Next, ask your students to write down something they'd like to improve for the fall semester along with a few action steps they can take to do that. This helps students become accountable for their progress.

Most students will choose a physical goal, like improving their arabesque, but others could choose something like not sabotaging themselves with negative thoughts, or becoming better at staying focused and present in class.

Once they've chosen one or two ideas (that's plenty!), you can check in with them every so often to offer suggestions for achieving their goal. Keep them focused on their efforts and actions by reminding them that they can always improve—it just takes practice!

To your success,

Deborah Vogel

Director, The Body Series

Layeelah Muhammad, courtesy DAYPC

This summer's outcry to fully see and celebrate Black lives was a wake-up call to dance organizations.

And while many dance education programs are newly inspired to incorporate social justice into their curriculums, four in the San Francisco Bay area have been elevating marginalized youth and focusing on social change for decades.

GIRLFLY, Grrrl Brigade, The Alphabet Rockers and Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company fuse dance with education around race, gender, climate change and more, empowering young artists to become leaders in their communities. Here's how they do it.

Keep reading... Show less
Teacher Voices
Getty Images

I often teach ballet over Zoom in the evenings, shortly after sunset. Without the natural light coming from my living room window, I drag a table lamp next to my portable barre so that the computer's camera can see me clearly enough. I prop the laptop on a chair taken from the kitchen and then spend the next few hours running back and forth between the computer screen of Zoom tiles and my makeshift dance floor.

Much of this setup is the result of my attempts to recreate the most important aspects of an in-person dance studio: I have a barre, a floor and as much space as I can reasonably give myself within a small apartment. I do not, however, have a mirror, and neither do most of my students.

Keep reading... Show less
Allie Burke, courtesy Lo Cascio

If you'd hear it on the radio, you won't hear it in Anthony Lo Cascio's tap classes.

"If I play a song that my kids know, I'm kind of disappointed in myself," he says. "I either want to be on the cutting edge or playing the classics."

He finds that most of today's trendy tracks lack the depth needed for tap, and that there's a disconnect between kids and popular music. "They have trouble finding the beat compared to older genres," he says.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.