I have good news and bad news. This season of Dance Moms has come to an end, and a second season is already in the works! (It’s up to you which is the good and which is the bad.) At Dance Teacher, we’re a little sad to see our favorite troupe of talented comp kids leave the silver screen—after all, they were pretty darn cute, and we learned some valuable lessons along the way.

 

As is Abby Lee’s way, this season ends with a bang.  The girls audition for and make it into a real live music video! Though their role on a TV show might have helped them land these roles, and we’d never actually heard of this so-called “pop star,” it is still awesome to see these little dancers in the spotlight. And (spoiler alert), Chloe snags the lead role! Gotta love seeing this consistent second placer come out on top.

 

Other highlights: Abby Lee abolishes the dreaded pyramid, the moms get drunk, and we get to see Abby Lee herself doing hip hop! Ok, only the first thing was actually a highlight.  Plus, we see first-hand how hard it can be to break into the world of commercial dance. Six-year-old Mackenzie has it the roughest, breaking down multiple times during rehearsals. But as she says, “I just cry sometimes. It’s no big deal.” Here are DT’s tips for breaking your dancers into the commercial world, hopefully avoiding any tears:

 

* First, generate awareness. Schedule a meeting for interested students and their parents, and outline what commercial dance includes and what it could mean for them. Highlight the fact that dancers who have a lot of personality, theatrical skills or a special talent for hip hop can thrive in this industry.

 

* Now your students need an agent. If you don’t live near NYC or L.A., look to local big cities and search online for nearby agents, agencies and auditions. Remember, that anyone who asks you for money upfront is not legitimate. The only way agencies make money is by getting a percentage of what their clients make. And conventions are also a great place to look, as agencies frequently send representatives to network with studio owners. You might even take a page out of Abby Lee’s book and put on a free showcase at the studio, inviting casting directors and agents to scout your kids.

 

* Once you’ve found representation for your students, they will need headshots, a resumé and a firm grasp of what to expect and how to behave at an audition. Hold a resumé-writing seminar, and call local professional photographers to inquire about group rates. Then, hold mock auditions or add an extra class to your schedule that focuses on real-world training for auditions, including dancing, acting and singing. Focus on picking up choreography quickly. Don’t know the first thing about acting? Look to local community theaters or a nearby performing arts high school for possible guest instructors.

 

* When a student does land an audition, make sure you know what the casting directors are looking for. Less is usually more—stay away from red lipstick and rhinestones unless they’re specifically asked for. And remember, much more comes into play than just talent—casting directors may be looking for a specific height, race or hair color. So even if your students are having trouble at first, don’t throw in the towel.

 

 

And we say farewell to Dance Moms Season 1 with a few phenomenal quotes from the final two episodes:

 

“Abby told me that I have the potential to be on Broadway. And what she says to me and what she thinks matters, because she’s my dance teacher.” —Chloe, reminding us of the motivational power of educators

 

“I worked the cat walk!” —Maddie, modest as always

 

“Sometimes, I don’t think Abby knows what she’s talking about.” —our favorite forever, Mackenzie

 

(Tips based on “Navigating the Commercial World” by Jennifer Anderson)

 

 

Dance Teachers Trending
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."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Dean College
Amanda Donahue, ATC, working with a student in her clinic in the Palladino School of Dance at Dean College. Courtesy Dean College

The Joan Phelps Palladino School of Dance at Dean College is one of just 10 college programs in the U.S. with a full-time athletic trainer devoted solely to its dancers. But what makes the school even more unique is that certified athletic trainer Amanda Donahue isn't just available to the students for appointments and backstage coverage—she's in the studio with them and collaborating with dance faculty to prevent injuries and build stronger dancers.

"Gone are the days when people would say, 'Don't go to the gym, you'll bulk up,'" says Kristina Berger, who teaches Horton and Hawkins technique as an assistant professor of dance. "We understand now that cross-training is actually vital, and how we've embraced that at Dean is extremely rare. For one thing, we're not sharing an athletic trainer with the football players, who require a totally different skillset." For another, she says, the faculty and Donahue are focused on giving students tools to prolong their careers.

After six years of this approach, here are the benefits they've seen:

Keep reading... Show less
To Share With Students
Photo via Claudia Dean World on YouTube

Most parents start off pretty clueless when it comes to doing their dancer's hair. If you don't want your students coming in with elastic-wrapped bird's nests on their heads, you may want to give them some guidance. But who has time to teach each individual parent how to do their child's hair? Not you! So, we have a solution: YouTube hair tutorials.

These three classical hairdo vids are exactly what your dancers need to look fabulous and ready to work every time they step in your studio.

Enjoy!

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Alternative Balance
Courtesy Alternative Balance

As a dance teacher, you know more than anyone that things can go wrong—students blank on choreography onstage, costumes don't fit and dancers quit the competition team unexpectedly. Why not apply that same mindset to your status as an independent contractor at a studio or as a studio owner?

Insurance is there to give you peace of mind, even when the unexpected happens. (Especially since attorney fees can be expensive, even when you've done nothing wrong as a teacher.) Taking a preemptive approach to your career—insuring yourself—can save you money, time and stress in the long run.

We talked to expert Miriam Ball of Alternative Balance Professional Group about five scenarios in which having insurance would be key.

Keep reading... Show less
To Share With Students
Via @madisongoodman_ on Instagram

Nationals season is behind us, but we just aren't quite over it yet. We've been thinking a lot about the freakishly talented winners of these competitions, and want to know a bit more about the people who got them to where they are. So, we asked three current national title holders to tell us the most powerful piece of advice their dance teacher ever gave them. What they have to say will melt your heart.

Way to go, dance teachers! Your'e doing amazing things for the rising generation!

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

Enrollment is an issue that plagues brand-new and veteran studio owners alike. Without a steady stream of revenue from new students coming through your doors, your studio won't survive—no matter how crisp your dancers' technique is or how well-produced your recitals are.

Enrollment—in biz speak, customer acquisition and retention—depends on your business' investment in marketing. How effectively you get the word out about your studio will directly influence the number of people who register. Successful businesses typically use certain tried-and-true marketing strategies to recruit and retain clients or customers. These four studio owners' tricks for kicking enrollment into high gear are modeled after classic marketing techniques.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Turn It Up Dance Challenge
Courtesy Turn It Up

With back-to-back classes, early-morning stage calls and remembering to pack countless costume accessories, competition and convention weekends can feel like a whirlwind for even the most seasoned of studios. Take the advice of Turn It Up Dance Challenge master teachers Alex Wong and Maud Arnold and president Melissa Burns on how to make the experience feel meaningful and successful for your dancers:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Thinkstock

Dance teachers are just as apt to fall into the trap of perfectionism and self-criticism as the students they teach. The high-pressure environment that is the dance world today makes it difficult to endure while keeping a healthy perspective on who we truly are.

To help you quiet your inner critic, and by extension set an example of self-love for your students, we caught up with sports psychologist Caroline Silby. Here she shares strategies for managing what she calls "neurotic perfectionism." "Self-attacking puts teachers and athletes in a constant state of stress, often making them rigid, inflexible and ultimately fueling high anxiety rather than high levels of performance," Silby says. "Perfectionistic teachers, dancers and athletes can learn to set emotional boundaries. They can use doubt, frustration and worry about missing expectations as cues to take actions that align with what they do when teaching/performing well and feeling in-control. Being relentless about applying a solution-oriented approach can help the perfectionist move through intense emotional states more efficiently."

Check out those strategies below!

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by The Studio Director

As a studio owner, you're probably pretty used to juggling. Running a business is demanding, with new questions and challenges pulling your attention in a million different directions each day.

But there's a solution that could be saving you time and money (and sanity!). Studio management systems are easy-to-use software programs designed for the particular needs of studio owners, offering tools like billing, enrollment, inventory and emails, all in one place. The right studio management system can help you handle the day-to-day tasks that bog you down as a business owner, leaving you more time for the most important work—like connecting with students and planning creative curriculums for them. Plus, these systems can keep you from spending extra money on hiring multiple specialists or using multiple platforms to meet your administrative needs.

So how do you make sure you're choosing a studio management system that offers the same quality that your studio does? We talked to The Studio Director—whose studio management system provides a whole host of streamlined features—about the must-haves for any system, and the bonuses that make an excellent product stand out:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Thinkstock

Since the dawn of time, performers have had to deal with annoying, constant blisters. As every dance teacher knows (and every student is sure to find out), blisters are a fact of life, and we all need to figure out a plan of action for how to deal with them.

Instead of bleeding through pointe shoes and begging you to let them sit out, your students should know these tricks for how to prevent/deal with their skin when it starts to sting.

You're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Brian Guilliaux, courtesy of Coudron

Eric Coudron understands firsthand the hurdles competition dancers face when falling in love with ballet. Now the director of ballet at Prodigy Dance and Performing Arts Centre in Frisco, Texas, Coudron trained as a competition dancer when he was growing up. "It's such a structured form of dance that when they come back to it after all of the other styles they are training in, they don't feel at home at the barre," he says.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox