Dance Teacher Tips
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Q: I can't straighten both legs and maintain a closed fifth position. I believe it's mostly because one leg is longer than the other one. What can I do?

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Q: I need advice on proper classroom management for dancers in K–12—I can't get them to focus.

A: Classroom management in a K–12 setting is no different than in a studio. No matter where you teach, I recommend using a positive-reinforcement approach first. As a general rule, what you pay attention to is what you get. When a student acts out, it's generally done in order to gain attention. Rather than giving attention to them for inappropriate behavior, call out other students who are exhibiting the positive behaviors you desire. Name the good actions, and all of your students will quickly learn what it takes to be noticed.

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Dance Teacher Tips

For an aspiring professional dancer, an unexpected injury can feel like a death sentence to a career that hasn't even started. The recovery process following an injury can be one of the most grueling and heartbreaking experiences a performer will ever face. In times like these, dance teachers have the power to boost or weaken a dancer's morale.

With that in mind, we've compiled a list of do's and don'ts for talking to a seriously injured dancer.

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Q: Last season I had three dancers on my junior team who struggled all year. They've trained with me for years, yet they keep sliding farther behind their classmates. What should I do?

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Dance Teacher Tips
Jared Grimes. Photo by Santiago Barreiro, courtesy of Grimes

A tap dancer's upper body might be hunched or upright, quirky or smooth, depending on the individual's style. "People might think it looks silly when hands or arms are doing awkward things, when the dancer is reaching for infinite possibilities," says Jared Grimes, tapper and choreographer based in New York City. "But that's what the back and core muscles do for a dancer. They provide support for the thoughts below."

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Q: How can I improve my middle splits?

A: Middle splits can be quite challenging depending on your hip structure. Sitting in a straddle and leaning forward, as well as having your legs in a straddle against the wall, are both stretches that dancers can do to lengthen the inner thigh muscles.

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Dance Teacher Tips
Robin Nasatir (center) with Peter Brown and Vicki Gunter. Photo by Christian Peacock

On a sunny Thursday morning in Berkeley, California, Robin Nasatir leads her modern class through a classic seated floor warm-up full of luscious curves and tilts to the soothing grooves of Bobby McFerrin. Though her modern style is rooted in traditional José Limón and Erick Hawkins techniques, the makeup of her class is far from conventional. Her students range in age from 30 all the way to early 80s.

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Q: I tell my ballet students to pull up the front of their abdominals, but when I put my hand on their stomachs, I don't feel anything. What can I do?

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Dance Teacher Tips
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We're nearing the dog days of summer when the heat is unbearable and your patience is thinning. Dancers are exhausted and distracted by the bright sunshine outside your windows, and you can't stop dreaming of the vacation you get to take in just a few weeks. Everyone is wanting to give in to laziness, but you know that that won't bring you the joy you're looking for. You know that jumping in and educating your students and filling their passion for dance is the only way you will feel fulfilled by your work.

You need to get pumped up. You need to be inspired!

Don't worry, we have just the trick. Here are 10 inspirational quotes that will get you through these long (and sometimes grueling) days.

You're welcome!

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Q: What suggestions do you have for dancers to get their shoulder blades to lie flat on their backs?

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Q: Is teaching for an after-school program a good way to find a job in K–12?

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Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine

When choosing music for tap, Jason Samuels Smith encourages teachers to start with classic jazz music. Improvisation, call and response, and syncopated rhythms embedded in the genre and its history, in general, help students to understand the structure of tap, which is different than other styles of dance. "Tap dancers have the responsibility to be more than just a visual artist," he says. "They're an instrument and a sound."

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Q: Do you require all of your ballet teachers to have a set syllabus? Why or why not?

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