When Erica Marr discovered ballroom dancing in her late teens, she instantly fell in love with the Latin beats and strong drum lines that challenged her musicality. After shifting her focus away from contemporary and jazz, she began studying with elite ballroom coaches in New York City and quickly earned a World Championship title in her division.


Ten years later, as a teacher and award-winning choreographer (she was a 2017 Capezio A.C.E. Awards finalist), she's carved out a niche blending jazz and ballroom. "For so long, the ballroom world was its own thing and I always wanted to mesh the two worlds together," says Marr.

Her unique style doesn't necessarily require a partner and makes ballroom accessible to all dancers. "There's this core bass beat in the music that everyone is affected by," she says. This universal appeal helps make ballroom more relatable to a room full of dancers who've only studied ballet, tap and jazz. "I'll teach a bachata or a Cuban-break step that's syncopated, which introduces quicker moving and timing." Music for contemporary is such a personal choice for each choreographer, she points out, whereas traditional ballroom styles require a set timing and beats per minute.

When setting choreography for a competition team or at a convention, Marr tends to choose music that starts slow and builds to a crescendo—an arc that she attributes to ballroom's crowd-pleasing affect. "It's flashy and exciting," she says. "I'm always looking for that 'wow' moment within a song."

Song: "Alors On Danse" (Remix) (feat. Kanye West & Gilbere Forté)

"This is a great high-energy song for a cha-cha. There is a clear tempo of about 120 bpm in this track. I love the texture of this song that allows for fun choreography, as well as all the technical aspects of the cha-cha. I tend to use this song for across-the-floor routines involving cha-cha exercises."


Artist: Sak Noel and Salvi (feat. Sean Paul)
Song: "Trumpets"

"I love everything about this track. I love the energy behind this music, which complements my choreography style. This song has a samba tempo to accentuate this fun and exciting style of Latin. There is an element of reggaeton, too, which lends itself to be able to blend elements of jazz with samba."


Artist: Watazu
Album: Wata Rhythm (Latin dance rhythms)

"This entire album is amazing. Samba and Afro-Brazilian is my absolute favorite. I use this track specifically for practicing technical steps in the samba, such as Botafogos, batucadas and crusade walks. The use of the samba drums and shakers brings out the natural samba bounce. There are many other tracks on this album to use for these same exercises, as well."


Artist: Moska
Song: "Duma"

"This track lends itself to a cha-cha tempo, but also has so much texture in the song to play with. I love creating to music that isn't necessarily boxed in to a specific genre, but can be blended together in a combo. I love the impact the song builds to, which allows me to really create high-energy choreography."


Artist: J Balvin & Willy William
Song: "Mi Gente"

"This song is recognized by most people and provides an amazing samba tempo. I love finding music that is easily relatable, but also has a great Latin foundation. I have taught samba choreography to this track, but there is so much texture that you can blend other elements."

The Conversation
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy of Hightower

The beloved "So You Think You Can Dance" alum and former Emmy-nominated "Dancing with the Stars" pro Chelsie Hightower discovered her passion for ballroom at a young age. She showed a natural ability for the Latin style, but she mastered the necessary versatility by studying jazz, ballet and other forms of dance. "Every style of dance builds on each other," she says, "and the more music you're exposed to, the more your rhythm and coordination is built."

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Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
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Whether you're putting on a pair of pointe shoes, buckling your ballroom stilettos or lacing up your favorite high tops, the floor you're on can make or break your dancing. But with issues like sticking or slipping and a variety of frictions suitable to different dance steps and styles, it can be confusing to know which floor will work best for you.

No matter what your needs are, Harlequin Floors has your back, or rather, your feet. With 11 different marley vinyl floors available in a range of colors, Harlequin has options for every setting and dance style. We rounded up six of their most popular and versatile floors:

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Lani Corson. Photo by Royce Burgess, courtesy of Corson

Aerial work is growing in popularity in the dance world these days. Don't believe us? Check out this Dance Magazine article! If you're a studio owner who didn't grow up with aerial training (let's face it, how many of us really did?), then you may be feeling a little apprehensive about what to look for when bringing on a new aerialist faculty member. You know exactly what you want from your ballet teachers, your jazz teachers, your tap teachers, heck—even your tumbling teachers! Aerial, however, is a whole other ballgame.

To help you feel confident you're bringing in a teacher who is safe for your dancers, we sat down with Lani Corson, NYC aerialist, circus performer, adjunct professor at Pace University and teacher at Aerial Arts NYC, to get the inside scoop on exactly what you should be looking for.

Enjoy!

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AdobeStock, Courtesy Insure Fitness Group

As a teacher at a studio, you've more than likely developed long-lasting relationships with some of your students and parents. The idea that you could be sued by one of them might seem impossible to imagine, but Insure Fitness Group's Gianna Michalsen warns against relaxing into that mindset. "People say, 'Why do I need insurance? I've been working with these people for 10 years—we're friends,'" she says. "But no one ever takes into account how bad an injury can be. Despite how good your relationship is, people will sue you because of the toll an injury takes on their life."

You'll benefit most from an insurance policy that caters to the specifics of teaching dance at one or several studios. Here's what to look for:

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Studio Owners
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Dance teachers have a lot of strengths (communicating corrections, choreographing gorgeous movement, planning excellent recitals, cleaning technique—just to name a few) but when it comes to interior design—talent isn't exactly a given. So when studio owners remodel or build, worrying about the decor can feel a little overwhelming (you've got just a few too many other things to worry about, don't you?).

No need to fear! In 2019 we have Pinterest, which shows us all the latest trends we should know about. To help you make the best design decisions for your studio, we've compiled a list of public Pinterest pins we think you'll love.

You're welcome!

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Studio Success with Just for Kix
Bill Johnson, Courtesy Just for Kix

Running a dance studio is a feat in itself. But adding a competition team into the mix brings a whole new set of challenges. Not only are you focusing on giving your dancers the best training possible, but you're navigating the fast-paced competition and convention circuit. Winning is one goal, but you also want to create an environment that's fun, educational and inspiring for young artists. We asked Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner with over 40 years of experience, for her advice on building a healthy dance team culture:

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Is dance a sport? Should it be in the Olympics? They're complicated questions that tend to spark heated debate. But many dance fans will be excited to hear that breaking (please don't call it breakdancing) has been provisionally added to the program for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris.

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Sponsored by World Class Vacations
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New York City is a dream destination for many dancers. However aspiring Broadway stars don't have to wait until they're pros to experience all the city has to offer. With Dance the World Broadway, students can get a taste of the Big Apple—plus hone their dance skills and make lasting memories.

Here's why Dance the World Broadway is the best way for students to experience NYC:

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Dance Teacher Tips
Vanessa Zahorian. Photo by Erik Larson, courtesy of Pennsylvania Ballet Academy

At the LINES Ballet Dance Center in San Francisco, faculty member Erik Wagner leads his class through an adagio combination in center. He encourages dancers to root their standing legs, using imagery of a seed germinating, so that they feel more grounded. "Our studios are on the fifth floor, so I'll often tell them to push down to Market Street," says Wagner. "They know that they should push their energy down to the street level." By using this oppositional force, he says, dancers can lengthen their bodies to create any desired shape.

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Dance Teacher Tips
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After years of throwing summer parties at your studio, you're likely fatigued by coming up with themes and event details. You want your students to have a good time, but you're also up to your eyeballs in choreography and costume decisions.

Never fear! We've come up with party themes and activities to do during the event. Delegate tasks to your teachers and office managers, and voilà! You have a stress-free party ready to go.

Have a blast, people!

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Dancer Health
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Q: I recently returned to a modern dance class after a long absence. While I didn't feel any acute pain at the end of class, the next morning I could barely walk from the soreness in both my Achilles. What can I do to fix this?

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Studio Owners
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Q: I'm trying to think of ways to maximize studio space and revenue during the summer. What has worked for you?

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