Teaching Tips

Ask the Experts: What Should I Do About Students Falling Behind Their Peers?

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Q: Last season I had three dancers on my junior team who struggled all year. They've trained with me for years, yet they keep sliding farther behind their classmates. What should I do?

A: It's not uncommon for dancers who start on the same level when they are 5-year-old minis to progress beyond that at a different pace. We have a group of 21 dancers, with several students who cannot keep up with their classmates. We've tried everything: private classes, extra assistants to work with just them, special attention in class—we even asked them to double-up on their schedule by taking the level below them as well as their regular classes. All of this just overwhelmed them, and they continued to struggle.

This year we have decided to place them in our part-time competitive level classes. Prior to this decision we made sure to speak to their parents individually and let them know how much their child was struggling with technique and corrections, and that this was affecting their self-esteem. We expressed that we want their children to love dance, but that the classes they were currently in had become too difficult for them to succeed in. This was not an easy decision, but it was the best decision for all concerned.

Health & Body
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Talar compression syndrome means there is some impingement happening in the posterior portion of the ankle joint. Other medical personnel might call your problem os trigonum syndrome or posterior ankle impingement syndrome or posterior tibiotalar compression syndrome. No matter what they name it—it means you are having trouble moving your ankle through pointing and flexing.

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Scott Robbins, Courtesy IABD

The International Association of Blacks in Dance is digitizing recordings of significant, at-risk dance works, master classes, panels and more by Black dancers and choreographers from 1988 to 2010. The project is the result of a $50,000 Recordings at Risk grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.

"This really is a long time coming," says IABD president and CEO Denise Saunders Thompson of what IABD is calling the Preserving the Legacy and History of Black Dance in America program. "And it's really just the beginning stages of pulling together the many, many contributions of Black dance artists who are a part of the IABD network." Thompson says IABD is already working to secure funding to digitize even more work.

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Studio Owners
The Dance Concept staff in the midst of their costume pickup event. Photo courtesy of Dance Concept

Year-end recitals are an important milestone for dancers to demonstrate what they've learned throughout the year. Not to mention the revenue boost they bring—often 15 to 20 percent of a studio's yearly budget. But how do you hold a spring recital when you're not able to rehearse in person, much less gather en masse at a theater?

"I struggled with the decision for a month, but it hit me that a virtual recital was the one thing that would give our kids a sense of closure and happiness after a few months on Zoom," says Lisa Kaplan Barbash, owner of TDS Dance Company in Stoughton, MA. She's one of countless studio owners who faced the challenges of social distancing while needing to provide some sort of end-of-year performance experience that had already been paid for through tuition and costume fees.

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