Editor's Note

When a dancer becomes a teacher, her focus shifts away from her own technique and artistry to what is best for her students. In this issue we feature several veteran performers who’ve recently taken this step in their careers. Canadian ballerina Chan Han Goh, for example, accepted leadership this summer of her family’s 30-year-old Vancouver studio. After 21 years as a ballerina with The National Ballet of Canada, she knows firsthand what is required of students who aspire to follow in her footsteps. But as she told writer Michael Crabb, it’s harder to be a teacher than a dancer.


Newly retired New York City Ballet star, Darci Kistler, also brought up the topic when she spoke with contributing editor Margaret Fuhrer about furthering the Balanchine philosophy at the School of American Ballet. “When I’m teaching, it’s about what my students need,” she said.


And Gavin Larsen takes us along on her first post-retirement teaching gig in Korea, where she coached local ballet students in their roles for the Oregon Ballet Theatre production of The Nutcracker. Among the challenges? Convincing the impeccably trained children they didn’t have to stand in first position during the party scene. They could relax a little and be natural kids!


As a teacher, you give and give and give. Then comes recital time and you give even more. This issue is full of advice and shared experience that will be useful during this busy season, starting with the annual costume preview. We’re literally “Over the Rainbow” with 15 pages of new and best-selling costumes—and the shoes to go with them—to outfit your young performers in the coming year. And to top it off, check out the hats and headpieces on our Goods page.


Of course, you don’t have to be staging a recital to enjoy this issue. Dance Teacher features topics useful to dance educators in every setting. Whether you own a studio, teach in the public schools or recreational programs or are on faculty at a conservatory or university, I encourage you to take a break and shift the focus back to yourself long enough to read Dance Teacher. I won’t say it will make your job easy, but it may help remind you that you’re not alone. And don’t forget to write me at khildebrand@dancemedia.com to share your recital experiences and tips with your peers across the country.


Karen Hildebrand

Editor in Chief

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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