Ask the Experts: Getting Beginners to Practice

I have a lot of beginners in my class. How can I get them to practice at home?

Getting students to practice in general can be a challenge, but most beginners need to first learn how to practice. Memorizing movement can be difficult for these students, which is why I create video blogs for my classes.  

Each week, I post the most recent version of the combination we’re working on and also offer videos breaking down certain components, per students’ request. (For my tap classes, I include videos of just my feet, too.) As a general rule, I video myself from behind, because it’s easier to shadow movement rather than mirror it. I usually slow down the videos that I post, so that the dance is easier to read, but occasionally that’s still too fast for some students. If you have editing software, such as iMovie, you can make the video even slower. Plus, both iPhones and Android phones have slow-motion capability built into their photo/video apps. The benefit of using software or built-in slo-mo on your phone, rather than slowing a video down manually on your computer, is that the former option shoots more frames per second, so you don’t lose video quality when you shoot it at a much slower speed. 

I use different platforms to publish these video blogs, depending on where I teach. At New York University, I use Google Sites; at another school, I use the learning management software Haiku. I’ve also used Edublog in the past, but any blogging platform should be fine.

Barry Blumenfeld teaches at the Friends Seminary in New York City. He is an adjunct professor at New York University and on faculty at the Dance Education Laboratory of the 92nd Street Y.

Photo courtesy of Barry Blumenfeld

Don’t miss a single issue of Dance Teacher.

Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Diary
Claire, McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

Keep reading... Show less
Music
Mary Mallaney/USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, courtesy Osato

In most classes, dancers are encouraged to count the music, and dance with it—emphasizing accents and letting the rhythm of a song guide them.

But Marissa Osato likes to give her students an unexpected challenge: to resist hitting the beats.

In her contemporary class at EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles (which is now closed, until they find a new space), she would often play heavy trap music. She'd encourage her students to find the contrast by moving in slow, fluid, circular patterns, daring them to explore the unobvious interpretation of the steady rhythms.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.