We tend to think of December as being filled with holiday festivities, The Nutcracker and year-end recitals. But it’s also a great time to reflect. What were your successes this year, and what do you want to create for the future? As we began to plan the 2014 Dance Teacher editorial calendar, I asked the editors which 2013 covers were their favorites.

My vote goes to the June Studio Business issue with Jennifer Owens and Julie Jarnot of Artistic Fusion. I have deep admiration for artists who also develop sound business aptitude. Jen and Julie talked about how their strengths and interests complement each other—division of labor is so important in a partnership. Plus they’re located in my home state of Colorado!

I love that Bethany Marc-Aurele is a young entrepreneur who has a great business model and offers amazing training. (The same goes for all the sources in the story.) And she looks gorgeous! She has such clear goals and mission for her studio, and her commitment to continuing her training as a teacher is certainly a plus for her students as well as her faculty. She’s a strong role model for studio owners and she’s definitely inspired me. —Jenny Dalzell, Contributing Editor

TaraMarie Perri’s dancer-turned-yoga-instructor story was inspiring. She has such a complete knowledge of anatomy, and I love that she’s made it her life’s work to help dancers use their bodies in a healthy way. I was also really into her funky jewelry and urban yogi style! —Andrea Marks, Assistant Editor

I really loved our September cover story on Judy Rice. I enjoyed her frankness about how inept she felt, starting out as a ballet teacher. And her willingness to start from scratch in the field, coupled with her work ethic, has brought her full circle—now she’s a beloved faculty member and in-demand on the competition scene. Meeting her at our DT Summit was icing on the cake! She was just as bubbly, witty and knowledgeable in person as she was on the page. ­—Rachel Rizzuto, Assistant Editor

The Jodi Maxfield cover story was one of my favorites this year. Growing up as a bunhead, I’ll admit that I used to turn up my nose at the idea of dance team as a respected form. Jodi’s story really validates that there is some great dance line training out there. And she is giving college dancers a serious alternative to majoring in dance. Plus, Utah was a beautiful place to shoot a cover! —Kristin Schwab, Associate Editor

“Twin City Titans”—TU Dance on the May Cover. Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands combine modern, ballet and West African in their training, and they bring diversity to the Twin Cities dance offerings. They’re also a great husband-and-wife team, and they give back to the community, training kids from underserved areas free of charge. —Joe Sullivan, Managing Editor

And we couldn’t be more pleased to round out the year with the amazing Suzi Taylor on the cover this month. As a founding faculty member touring with New York City Dance Alliance and longtime teacher at Steps on Broadway, she has nurtured the talent of several generations of dancers. We love how grounded in technique her classes are. While choreographers featured on “So You Think You Can Dance” are all the rage these days on the convention floor, it’s traditionalists like Taylor who make sure the dancers have the technical chops necessary to perform the movement they admire.

Happy holidays from all of us at Dance Teacher,

Karen Hildebrand

editor in chief

To Share With Students
Performing with Honji Wang at Jacob's Pillow; photo by Christopher Duggan, courtesy of Jacob's Pillow

Celebrated New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns has recently been exploring collaborative possibilities with dance artists outside ballet. Just this year she was guest artist with Lori Belilove & The Isadora Duncan Company, and performed on Broadway in her husband Joshua Bergasse's choreography for I Married an Angel. This summer she appeared in a highly anticipated series of cross-genre collaborations at Jacob's Pillow, titled Beyond Ballet, with Honji Wang of the French hip-hop duo Company Wang Ramirez, postmodern dance artist Jodi Melnick, choreographer Christopher Williams and more. Here she speaks with DT about the effects of her explorations.

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Studio Success with Just for Kix
Courtesy Just for Kix

As a teacher or studio owner, customer service is a major part of the job. It's easy to dread the difficult sides of it, like being questioned or criticized by an unhappy parent. "In the early years, parent issues could have been the one thing that got me to give up teaching," says Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix and a teacher and studio owner with over 43 years of experience. "Hang in there—it does get easier."

We asked Clough her top tips for dealing with difficult parents:

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Lindsay Martell at a class performance. Photo courtesy of Martell

More than once, when I'm sporting my faded, well-loved ballet hoodie, some slight variation of this conversation ensues:

"Is your daughter the dancer?"

"Actually," I say, "I am."

"Wow!" they enthuse. "Who do you dance with? Or have you retired...?"

"I don't dance with a company. I'm not a professional. I just take classes."

Insert mic drop/record scratch/quizzical looks.

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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:

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Dance Teacher Tips
Getty Images

Any teacher who works with little ones knows that props can make class time run much more smoothly. That said, it's often difficult to find the right mix of tools that will both capture a child's attention and are manageable enough to carry around from one location to another—or pack up and store easily. Anything too big or too heavy is out, and some of the props you love to use with little ones may not be the most practical choice if you're a freelance teacher traveling to multiple studios throughout the week.

We asked two experienced teachers to share a couple of their favorite tips for easy-travel props for those who teach young ones. Here are five solid suggestions you can choose from, to incorporate into your overall teaching plans.

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Dance Teachers Trending
Paige Cunningham Caldarella. Photo by Philip Dembinski

It's the last class of the spring semester, and Paige Cunningham Caldarella isn't letting any of her advanced contemporary students off the hook. After leading them through a familiar Merce Cunningham–style warm-up, full of bounces, twists and curves, she's thrown a tricky five-count across-the-floor phrase and a surprisingly floor-heavy adagio at the dancers. Now, near the end of class, she is reviewing a lengthy center combination set to a Nelly Furtado song. The phrase has all the hallmarks of Cunningham—torso twists atop extended legs, unexpected timing, direction changes—which means it's a challenge to execute well.

After watching the dancers go through the phrase a couple of times, Caldarella takes a moment to troubleshoot a few sticky spots and give a quick pep talk before having them do it again. "I know it's fast," she tells them. "I know it's a lot of moves. And you're hanging in there! But stick with the task of articulating everything—try to hyper-explore that."

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Dance Teacher Tips
Thinkstock

Q: What tips do you have for creating end-of-year performances that teachers, students, parents and administrators will all be happy with?

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Savion Glover instructs students in rehearsal for NJPAC's revival of The Tap Dance Kid; photo by Yasmeen Fahmy, courtesy of NJPAC

Tony Award–winning tapper Savion Glover is giving back to his hometown community in Newark, New Jersey, by directing and choreographing New Jersey Performing Arts Center's revival of the Broadway hit that launched his career, The Tap Dance Kid.

September 13–15, you can see the group of young dancers Glover handpicked from throughout the New Jersey and New York areas, as they bring the 1983 story to life in a new and modern way. Here, Glover shares a bit about creating movement inspired by the show's original Tony Award–winning choreography by Danny Daniels, as well as what it's like to revisit the show that changed his life.

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Dance Teacher Tips
Via YouTube

For all the time we spend talking about feet, we think it's time we did a deep dive into toes. Those little piggies bear a lot of weight, endure painful blisters and help your students soar across the classroom day after day.

So, to show our toes the love they deserve, here are five exercises that are all the self-care you need this week.

You're welcome!

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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.

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Dance Teacher Tips
JP Tenuta with Monika Knickrehm in a Level 6 class at The Academy of Movement and Music. Photo by Mike Dutka, courtesy of The AMM

The culture of your dance studio should be a major consideration when it comes to hiring new instructors. After all, teaching experience isn't the only thing that matters! You'll also want to make sure an interviewee fits with your overall philosophy when it comes to interacting with students (and parents!) and teaching dance. Here are some great tips that can help you find the right match.

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