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Crowd-Pleasing Hits Keeps Debbie Roshe's Jazz Class on Point

Roshe (center) teaching at Steps on Broadway in New York City. Photo by Jacob Hiss, courtesy of Roshe

Although Debbie Roshe's class doesn't demand perfect technique or mastering complicated tricks, her intricate musicality is what really challenges students. "Holding weird counts to obscure music is harder," she says of her Fosse-influenced jazz style, "but it's more interesting."


The Broadway veteran describes her movement as sensual, yet dynamic—similar to her music choices. Unless she's choreographing at a regional theater for a specific musical, she prefers percussive, energetic instrumental music from a film's soundtrack with a heavy drum beat. "This helps dancers to hit the movements harder," says Roshe.

She constantly encourages students to dance sharply all the way through their fingers, as opposed to lingering or extending softly. "I rarely do a straight battement," she says. "It's more a flick, karate-kick battement. I find that that really hits the music." She also avoids choreographing to overplayed, popular tracks, but might use them when teaching class.

Roshe admits her class can be intimidating. Syncopated beats and making precise yet fluid transitions are difficult, but they draw in aspiring professional dancers. Especially Radio City Rockette hopefuls. "I'm a stickler for hitting the steps sharply and getting to the counts fast," says Roshe. "This better prepares dancers for auditions and to pick up choreography," she says. "You'll learn how to hit a beat."

Artist: Britney Spears
Album: In the Zone
Song: "Outrageous"

"Who doesn't love Britney? (Even if only secretly.) The driving beat behind her songs is definitely a class crowd-pleaser."

Britney Spears - Outrageous (official music video) www.youtube.com


Artist: Cardi B
Album: Invasion of Privacy
Song: "I Like It"

"I love this song for class because it's current, yet has a throwback vibe. I like all Cardi B, but some lyrics are dicey for class. 'I Like It' fits the bill, though, and creates a great energy."

Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin - I Like It [Official Music Video] www.youtube.com


Artist: Stefflon Don
Album: Real Ting Mixtape
Song: "16
Shots"

"This British rapper is doing a lot of collaborations with current artists that spotlight her Jamaican descent. Her phrasing is clear and upbeat with a great choreographic pulse."

Stefflon Don - 16 Shots (Official Video) www.youtube.com


Artist: Sia
Album: This Is Acting
Songs: "Bird Set Free" and
"Unstoppable"

"This whole album is amazing. I use many of the songs for the adagio section of class so dancers can work on extensions. I love her voice and lyrics, and the melodies are perfect for the elongated lines in the choreography."

Sia Unstoppable Music Video www.youtube.com


Artist: Chameleon
Album: The Monster EP
Song: "Stay Wait" and "Anthem"

"Chloe [of Chameleon] is a rising artist with a dynamic voice and a crazy range. Her lyrics are heartfelt and meaningful. I've used both these songs ('Stay Wait' for the adagio and 'Anthem' for the combination). Look for her new single 'Shiny Toy' coming out in November (with my choreography in the video) and her solo album coming in January."

Chameleon - Stay Wait ( Official Music Video ) www.youtube.com


Chameleon - Anthem ( Official Music Video ) www.youtube.com

Teachers Trending
Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy. Photo courtesy Dance With Me

Listening to Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy riff together makes it crystal-clear why each has mastered the art of partnering in the ballroom—they've long been doing this dance in real life as brothers and business partners.

Along with their "Dancing with the Stars" pedigree (and a combined three mirror-ball trophies between them), Maks and Val (and their father, Sasha) also run Dance With Me, a dance company hosting six ProAm Dancesport competitions annually and running 14 brick-and-mortar studio locations across the U.S.

Last year, the pair launched an online component, Dance & Co. The online video platform offers beginner through advanced instruction in not only ballroom but an array of other styles, as well as dance fitness classes from HIIT to yoga to strength training. "DWTS" fans will recognize such familiar faces as Peta Murgatroyd, Jenna Johnson, Sharna Burgess and Emma Slater, along with Maks and Val themselves.

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@jayplayimagery, courtesy Kerollis

In the spring of 2012, Barry Kerollis was abruptly forced into treating his career as a small business. Having just moved cross-country to join BalletX, he got injured and was soon let go.

"I'd only ever danced with big companies before," the now-freelance dance-teacher-choreographer-podcaster recalls. "That desperation factor drove me to approach freelancing with a business model and a business plan."

As Kerollis acknowledges, getting the business of you off the ground ("you" as a freelance dance educator, that is) can be filled with unexpected challenges—even for the most seasoned of gigging dancers. But becoming your own CEO can make your work–life balance more sustainable, help you make more money, keep you organized, and get potential employers to offer you more respect and improved working conditions. Here's how to get smart now about branding, finances and other crucial ways to tell the dance world that you mean business.

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Teachers Trending
Courtesy Oleson

American dance educator Shannon Oleson was teaching recreational ballet and street-dance classes in London when the pandemic hit. As she watched many of her fellow U.S. friends pack up and return home from their international adventures, she made the difficult choice to stick with her students (as well as her own training—she was midway through her MFA at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance).

Despite shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders, she was able to maintain a teaching schedule that kept her working with her dancers through Zoom, as well as lead some private, in-home acro classes following government guidelines. But keeping rec students interested in the face of pandemic fatigue hasn't been easy.

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