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Club Dance Studio's Chelsea Jennings Shares Her Must-Have Teaching Tools

Jennings and her students on set for "We Are the Future." Photo courtesy of Jennings

The harrowing school shooting in Parkland, Florida, this past February evoked an inspiring amount of youth activism as students across the country protested gun violence. Knowing the power dance can have on social issues, and wanting her students to use their talents to spread a positive message, Club Dance Studio teacher Chelsea Jennings choreographed and produced "We Are the Future," a dance video that has gone viral on YouTube. The dancers dressed in orange to honor 14-year-old dancer and Parkland shooting victim Jaime Guttenberg (whose favorite color was orange), and held signs with messages like: "Over 150 children have died in school shootings since 1999" and "I don't want to be another statistic."

"It's important for teachers to educate their dancers on more than just dance, but life skills as well," Jennings says. "I want my dancers to see they are capable of bringing positivity into the lives of others. A simple conversation, a compliment or even just being there for someone can make a difference. This video was to remind people to be kind."

GO-TO ENERGY BOOSTER

"I'm a major coffee addict. I have a double shot of espresso from Starbucks in the afternoon during my typical 10- to 12-hour teaching days. I also have a bag of almonds, a protein bar and fruit in my bag to snack on, while I teach."



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.

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Teaching Tips
Justin Boccitto teaches a hybrid class. Photo courtesy Boccitto

Just as teachers were getting comfortable with teaching virtual classes, many studios are adding an extra challenge into the mix: in-person students learning alongside virtual students. Such hybrid classes are meant to keep class sizes down and to give students options to take class however they're comfortable.

But dividing your attention between virtual students and masked and socially distant in-person students—and giving them each a class that meets their needs—is no easy feat.

Dance Teacher asked four teachers what they've learned so far.

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Teachers Trending
All photos by Ryan Heffington

"Annnnnnnd—we're back!"

Ryan Heffington is kneeling in front of his iPhone, looking directly into the camera, smiling behind his bushy mustache. He's in his house in the desert near Joshua Tree, California, phone propped on the floor so it stays steady, his bright shorty shorts, tank top and multiple necklaces in full view. Music is already playing—imagine you're at a club—and soon he's swaying and bouncing from side to side, the beat infusing his bones.

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