Teaching Tips

Make Your Students Better Prepared for Convention Season

Photo courtesy of NYCDA

Competition and convention season can seem never-ending, but with access to the world's most popular teachers, the experience is invaluable and gives students the opportunity to learn from the best in the business.

Seth Robinson, who teaches contemporary and improv with STREETZ and REVEL dance conventions, has taught and judged thousands of dancers across the nation. Here, Robinson offers three tips to better prepare your students for dance's ever-popular, jam-packed events.


It's a Journey

More often than not, dancers become overly focused on where they are headed and what they'd like to achieve next. This is a great mind-set to have, but being in the moment—trying to stand out and be unique for potential scholarships (or even potential castings)—is where your students' focus needs to be. Being aware that the technique they have, prior to starting a class, is what you have to work with. This can cause some kids to feel shame or inadequate. But remind students to go into the convention, workshop or class with the mindset of giving today's best version of themselves.

Tell your students: You are your biggest cheerleader. Believe in your abilities and all the progress made from the hours and years of training.

Give Yourself Space

In a crowded convention room, spread out. Please! Sure, standing up front is a great view: the teacher's sweat splashing on you and you're safely surrounded by dozens of other dancers. Who doesn't want that? Jokes aside, I always start my classes explaining to the dancers that we are here to work and learn. As a teacher, I'm here to give students all that I can in an hour or so, and the best thing dancers can give themselves in this setting is space. It's so common that dancers never get the chance to go for the moves full-out, because they are so worried about getting an elbow to the face.

Tell your students: Move around the room throughout class. While learning choreography quickly, it's a great idea to change your scenery. This will challenge your brain from merely remembering choreographing to really gaining confidence with the movement and feeling the steps.

Meet New People

I can't help but laugh when I see dancers sticking with the same friends at a weekend-long convention. You look great in your matching jackets, but I'm a firm believer in mixing things up. This is a great time to meet different people in the dance community. Challenge your students to meet the other visiting dancers and to make friends.

Tell your students: Down the road, networking is the name of the game, and the connections you make today will serve you in the future. Plus, introducing yourself to the new faces in the room will break down walls, relieving you of the nervousness that you might be feeling.

Bonus Tips

Don't forget the basics: rest and hydration. Going away after a school week can be tiring for kids, so remind your students to always practice self-care, but especially before these marathon weekends.

Support others and allow yourself to be supported in return. This is a unique chance to work with new industry people. Make it a pleasant experience by leaving our judgments at the stage door, so everyone can succeed.

News
Getty Images

Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

Keep reading... Show less
Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

Christy Funsch's teaching career has taken her from New York City to the Bay Area to Portugal, with a stint in a punk band in between. But this fall—fresh off a Fulbright in Portugal at the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, School of Dance (ESD), teaching and researching empathetic embodiment through somatic dance training—Funsch's teaching has taken her to an entirely new location: Zoom. A visiting professor at Slippery Rock University for the 2020–21 academic year, Funsch is adapting her eclectic, boundary-pushing approach to her virtual classes.

Originally from central New York State, Funsch spent 20 years performing in the Bay Area, where she also started her own company, Funsch Dance Experience. "My choreographic work from that time is in the dance-theater experiential, fantasy realm of performance," she says. "I also started blending genres and a lot of urban styles found their way into my choreography."

Keep reading... Show less
News
Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.