Dance Teacher Tips
Susannah Israel-Marchese with students at School of Ballet Hartford; photo by Frank Marchese, courtesy of SBH

At Michigan Ballet Academy, artistic director Irina Vassileni meets with a group of eager young students and their parents. She holds a shiny new pair of pointe shoes in one hand and an old, worn pair in the other. "I show them all the details, inside and out, and how working on pointe for hours will break down the shoe," says Vassileni. "I might even bring in different models and talk about how they're made. Parents need a lot of information to make them feel comfortable about their children going on pointe."

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Dance Teacher Tips
Amber Johnson at Deland Middle School. Courtesy of DMS

For a young student in the process of developing bodily awareness, a hands-on adjustment by a teacher can mean the difference between safe and incorrect alignment. But in many K–12 schools today, a hands-on approach is frowned upon or sometimes even forbidden. With dance being a kinesthetic art, this limitation presents a predicament for K–12 dance teachers. Here, two teachers share their views on whether to use touch in class and, if so, how they go about it.

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Cleaning competition numbers is a process—and a difficult one at that. Making your dancers look cohesive without draining them of their passion and individuality can feel like an impossible task.

Here are some tips and tricks that may make it easier for you!

You're welcome.

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Dance Teacher Tips
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The pressure young dancers feel to succeed at competition can lead to unhealthy stress levels that take the fun out of performing. To help your students feel calm, cool and collected before dancing, teach them these three stress-reducing exercises to do before going onstage.

Trust us, learning how to manage anxiety will benefit your dancers for the rest of their lives!

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Competition weekends provide an excellent chance for your studio to bond. We aren't just talking about bonding during classes or while performing onstage, but in the quiet moments between the hustle and bustle, and, of course, during the celebration when the three days of dancing come to an end. Here are three competition-weekend-ritual ideas you should consider trying the next time you take your dancers to compete. Your students will feel more connected and have more fond memories to look back on when they graduate.

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Dance Teacher Tips
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To have a set syllabus, or to not have a set syllabus, that is the question. Each year you have the chance to decide which is best for your dancers and their future. Both sides of the argument have compelling reasoning to back them up. Dancers simultaneously need structure and freedom in order to become their best selves. So, what WILL be best for them??

Unfortunately, that's a decision we can't make for you. But, we CAN lay out the pros and cons for you to consider in the context of your particular students. Check them out and then let us know on our Facebook page your thoughts on set syllabi.

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Q: Do you have any advice for dividing students into groups?

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Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Chris Hardy Photography

In Antoine Hunter's jazz class, students inevitably pick up sign language just by virtue of being his student. Though he doesn't typically incorporate ASL into his class combos, this dynamic phrase, which is one of his favorites, includes four signs: "heart," " re," "gone" and "deaf."

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Working with a 9-year-old student, Alexandra Koltun asks the young girl to face the barre. She reviews fifth position, demi-pointe with the front foot and coupé devant. "I separate all the positions, so the student understands each one," says Koltun, founder and artistic director of Koltun Ballet Boston. She reaches down to shape the girl's foot into sur le cou-de-pied, leaving the heel in front and gently squeezing the toes around the ankle. "This position will equip the foot with more strength," she says.

Depending on a ballet teacher's preference and style of training, sur le cou-de-pied (meaning "on the neck of the foot") may be incorporated into class at different times and in various ways. From steps like pas de cheval to frappé and développé, the wrapped position can be fundamental to a student's technical development. Or it can be used less often and as a supplement to cou-de-pied front and back. Either way, the value of the position remains constant as a tool to mold and strengthen dancers' feet.

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Dance Teacher Tips
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We've all had times when we've failed miserably while trying our best to communicate important concepts and ideas to our students. We are all well-meaning with hopes that our dancers will achieve their dreams and become kind humans along the way. Unfortunately, our delivery may need some honing in order to help them without causing some damage,

Here are four common phrases dance teachers often say, and four ways we can adjust them to make them constructive and productive.

Let us know over on our Facebook page what phrases you try to avoid as a dance teacher!

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Dance Teacher Tips
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By the end of January, most of the country is a frozen tundra, the pieces you have been perfecting for months feel stale and your dancers are in a slump. It's time for a morale booster, people!

Never fear, we've got you covered with three different things you can do to help you and your dancers get out of your midwinter slump. Try them out, and see the life return to your dancers' sleepy eyes!

You're welcome!

Let us know what kinds of things you like to do at your studios to help you recover from the chilly end-of-January days. We all need all the support we can get!

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Dance Teacher Tips
International performer Joy Womack balances flexibility and strength to maintain her turnout. Photo by Quinn Wharton for Pointe.

Turnout is one of the defining characteristics of classical ballet and the foundation of your technique, but the deceptively simple concept of external rotation can be hard to execute. For those born with hip joints that don't naturally make a tight fifth position, it's tempting to take shortcuts in the quest for more rotation, but you'll end up with weaker technique and a higher risk of injury. We asked top teachers and physical therapists to break down the meaning of turnout and offer safe ways to maximize your range.

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Dance Teacher Tips
Lauren Barry, courtesy of Diaz

When it comes to teaching Pre-K to fifth-graders, behavior issues are inevitable. Whether it's a child who wants to run around the room or a student who just flat-out refuses to follow instructions, knowing how to respond can be challenging. Compound that with the added obstacles of a K–12 school environment—where you may have an unusual dance space to teach in, limited class time or students who are just not interested in dance—and taking care of behavioral problems quickly and compassionately becomes even more essential.

Here, two Pre-K–5 teachers and one mental health professional offer their best strategies for dealing with four common behavior issues.

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