When the Career Transitions for Dancers annual gala kicked off last night with a swinging routine by the NYC school children of Yvonne Marceau and Pierre DuLaine's Dancing Classrooms, I immediately thought, "Who trained these kids?" Not only were they technically strong, their spirit was infectious, truly upholding the gala's title, Jump for Joy. Held at NYC's City Center, the night was a chance to honor the work of CTFD, an organization that provides career counseling, grants and training to dancers transitioning to their next line of work. (So it only seemed fitting that the evening began with artists just starting out.) The gala also celebrated a stage legend: The one and only Liza Minnelli accepted the Rolex Dance Award. Her speech highlighted the joys of dance and she even sang a bit from "New York, New York."

 

The event's other performances—including Suzanne Farrell Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Jason Samuels Smith and members of The Big Apple Circus—were also energizing, but the most inspiring moments were given by a few former dancers who acknowledged the looming scariness of retiring from dance. (Which is where CTFD comes in.) For instance, we heard from Leslie-Arlette Boyce, a former Dunham dancer and professor at Bard, whose grant from CTFD helped her find a new passion as a very successful photographer, and Lisa de Ravel, another former ballet dancer who went back to school to study psychology and now is the dean of students at Princeton Ballet School and works as an advisor to dancers and parents.

 

While the stories clearly illustrated the importance of arts organizations like CTFD, they more so proved (not surprisingly) the value of quality dance training. Not only does it create versatile and strong performers, but dance training helps to shape flexible, resourceful and intelligent human beings. The Dancing Classrooms students in their Swing, Swing, Swing routine certainly demonstrated this thought. (And if you've seen the documentary about Dancing Classrooms, Mad Hot Ballroom, you'll remember that the kids exposed to ballroom dance lessons exhibited a change in behavior, drive and an interest in academic work.) Dance training helps students learn to be adaptive, receptive and hard working. They learn to be fearless and dynamic. They learn cooperation, dedication and how to think critically. The list goes on. So while it was a truly amazing night of dance honoring the work of tireless career counselors and the invaluable organization, we should also celebrate the often thankless work of dance teachers around the world, because without them, many artists would be without crucial lifeskills that can come in handy at any point in their lives.  Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Conversation
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Julianna D. Photography, courtesy of Abreu

Although Rudy Abreu is currently JLo's backup dancer and an award-winning choreographer—his piece "Pray" tied for second runner-up at the 2018 Capezio A.C.E. Awards, and a variation of the piece made it to the finals on NBC's "World of Dance"—he still finds time to teach. Especially about how he hears music.

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Sponsored by Dance Teacher Web
Courtesy Dance Teacher Web

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At Dance Teacher Web's Conference and Expo, attendees will spend July 29–August 1 in Las Vegas, Nevada learning everything from new teaching methods to studio management software. And as if the dance and business seminars weren't enough, participants can also choose from three certifications to earn during the conference to help expand their expertise, generate new revenue and set their studios apart:

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Dance Teacher Tips
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James Payne, director of The School of Pennsylvania Ballet, starts class each day by asking students how they feel. "If they're collectively hurting, and I know that the day before they were working hard on something new, I might lessen the intensity of the class," he says. "I won't slow it down, though. Sometimes it's better to move through the aches and get to the other side."

A productive class depends, in part, on how well it is paced. If you move too slow, you risk losing students' interest and creating unwanted heaviness. Move too fast and dancers might not fully benefit from combinations or get sufficiently warm, increasing their risk of injury. But even these guidelines may differ depending on the students' age and level. Good pacing is a delicate balance that can facilitate mental and physical growth, but it requires good planning, close observation and the ability to adapt mid-class.

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David Galindo Photography

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Q: Our dancers' parents want to observe class, but students won't focus if I let them in the room. I've tried having them observe the last 10 minutes of class, but even that can be disruptive and bring the dancers' progress to a halt. Do you have any advice on how to handle this?

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Studio Owners
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Running your own studio often comes with a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps mentality. After all, you're the one who teaches class, creates choreography, collects tuition, plans a recital, calls parents, answers e-mails, orders costumes—plus a host of other tasks, some of which you probably don't even think about. But what if you had someone to help you, someone who could take certain routine or clerical tasks off your hands, freeing you up to focus on what you love?

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Dance Teachers Trending
Derek and Julianne Hough via @juleshough on Instagram

Here at Dance Teacher, we LOVE a talented dance family. Something about parents and siblings passing their passion for dance down to those who come after them just warms our hearts.

While there are many sets of talented siblings across all genres of dance, ballroom seems to be particularly booming with them.

Don't believe us? Check out these four sets of ballrooms siblings we can't take our eyes off of. Their parents have raised them right!

This is far from a comprehensive list, so feel free to share your favorite sets of dance siblings over in our comments!

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Courtesy of Roxey Ballet

This weekend, Roxey Ballet presented a sensory-friendly production of Cinderella at the Kendell Main Stage Theater in Ewing, New Jersey, with sound adjustments, a relaxed house environment and volunteers present to assist audience members with special needs. The production came on the heels of three educational residencies held at New Jersey–based elementary schools in honor of Autism Awareness Month in April.

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To Share With Students
Shared via Dance Teacher Network Facebook

I'm a part of a popular group on Facebook called Dance Teacher Network which consists of dance teachers across the country discussing and sharing information on all things dance. Yesterday morning, I spotted a photo shared in the group of four smiling young boys in a dance studio. And I couldn't help but smile to myself and think, "Wow, I never had that...that's pretty damn amazing."

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Dance Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy of Marr

When Erica Marr discovered ballroom dancing in her late teens, she instantly fell in love with the Latin beats and strong drum lines that challenged her musicality. After shifting her focus away from contemporary and jazz, she began studying with elite ballroom coaches in New York City and quickly earned a World Championship title in her division.

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Studio Owners
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