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.

News
Getty Images

Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

Keep reading... Show less
Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

Christy Funsch's teaching career has taken her from New York City to the Bay Area to Portugal, with a stint in a punk band in between. But this fall—fresh off a Fulbright in Portugal at the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, School of Dance (ESD), teaching and researching empathetic embodiment through somatic dance training—Funsch's teaching has taken her to an entirely new location: Zoom. A visiting professor at Slippery Rock University for the 2020–21 academic year, Funsch is adapting her eclectic, boundary-pushing approach to her virtual classes.

Originally from central New York State, Funsch spent 20 years performing in the Bay Area, where she also started her own company, Funsch Dance Experience. "My choreographic work from that time is in the dance-theater experiential, fantasy realm of performance," she says. "I also started blending genres and a lot of urban styles found their way into my choreography."

Keep reading... Show less
News
Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.