Ballet Class Blogging: My Special Helpers

It's no secret that children love helping out. But unlike a K–5 classroom, in which there are unlimited tasks to assign students—like passing out papers or pencils, turning off the lights and writing on the board—a dance studio doesn't seem to have have as many small jobs.

 

In my class, students have three or four jobs: Passing out shoes at the beginning of class (at Groove with Me, students keep their shoes at the studio); putting the tardy sign up 15 minutes into class (we put a sign goes onto the door that says, "If you're reading this, you're too late to join"), and turning off the lights at the end of class on the way out. If we use plastic dots on the floor, the girls can help organize those, too.

 

Each week, I try to let different girls be in charge of something, but I'm running out of tasks. Everyone wants to be my special helper, and I'm struggling to come up with an organized system that works. I don't want to leave any student out, but if I call out a student to help at random, others get upset.

 

Do you assign students jobs during each class? I'm sure there are little jobs that I'm forgetting—what can I let students do for me? Share your ideas and let's start a discussion!

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.

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Music
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.

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Teachers Trending
Courtesy Lovely Leaps

After the birth of her daughter in 2018, engineer Lisa McCabe had reservations about returning to the workforce full-time. And while she wanted to stay home with the new baby, she wasn't ready to stop contributing financially to her family (after all, she'd had a successful career designing cables for government drones). So, when she got a call that September from an area preschool to lead its dance program, she saw an opportunity.

The invitation to teach wasn't completely out of the blue. McCabe had grown up dancing in Southern California and had a great reputation from serving as her church's dance teacher and team coach the previous three years (stopping only to take a break as a new mother). She agreed to teach ballet and jazz at the preschool on Fridays and from there created an age-appropriate class based on her own training in the Cecchetti and RAD methods. It was a success: In three months, class enrollment went from six to 24 students, and just one year later, McCabe's blossoming Lovely Leaps brand had contracts with eight preschools and three additional teachers.

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