Joanne Chapman teaching turns (photo by Dan Boskovic, courtesy Joanne Chapman School of Dance)
Think back to your newbie dancer days. Can you remember your introduction to spotting? It might've involved staring hard at your own reflection in the mirror as you wrestled with your first pirouette. Or maybe your teacher had you put your hands on your shoulders as you attempted a series of half-chaînés across the floor.
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.
Forsythe's in the middle, somewhat elevated uses the battement like an attack. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet
Just before retiring in 2015, Sylvie Guillem appeared on "HARDtalk with Zeinab Badawi," the BBC's hard-hitting interview program. Badawi told Guillem,
"Clement Crisp of the Financial Times, 14 years ago, described your dancing as vulgar."
"Yeah, well, he said that. But at the same time, when they asked Margot Fonteyn what she thought about lifting the leg like this she said, 'Well, if I could have done it, I would have done it.' "
They were discussing Guillem's signature stroke—her 180-degree leg extension à la seconde. Ballet legs had often flashed about in the higher zones between 135 and 160 degrees before. But it wasn't until the virtuoso French ballerina regularly extended her leg beside her ear with immaculate poise in the 1980s that leg extensions for ballet dancers in classical roles reached their zenith. Traditionalists like Clement Crisp were not taken with it.
Naomi Glass, teacher at Pacific Northwest Ballet School, knows firsthand the advantages and challenges of hypermobility. As a young dancer, she was told to keep her hyperextended knees in a straight position far from her full range of motion. "It felt too bent to me," she says. "But once I was able to access my inner thighs and rotators, I found strength and stability and could still use the line that I wanted."
Hypermobility occurs when joints exceed the normal range of motion. Dancers can have hypermobility in specific joints, like their knees, or they can have generalized laxity throughout their bodies (which is often measured using the Beighton system—see sidebar). While this condition may enable students to create beautiful aesthetic lines, it can also increase risk for injury. Help dancers gain the strength they need to stay healthy while making the most of their hypermobility.
Travel has become a surprisingly important element of dance education. While the majority of studios provide comprehensive training in-house, along with bringing in an impressive roster of choreographers from around the globe, the studios that visit cities with major professional opportunities give their students a valuable bump in their educations.
Travel often instills a more ferocious desire to pursue a professional career. It gives dancers an up-close-and-personal look at the jobs they can expect to audition for in their post-studio life, and it gives them another chance to make connections with working choreographers.
Here are three cities you should consider taking your studio to this year. Your students will love you for it!
Welcome to 2019, dance teachers! We have a feeling this is going to be one heck of a year in the dance world, and really, it's all thanks to you! You are raising the future of this industry, and we couldn't be more proud to know you all.
As we embark on this new year together, we thought we would share five new year's resolutions we believe every dance teacher could use this year. They're sure to help you make a lasting and positive impact on those talented kiddos of yours.
The tripod (demonstrated by LizAnne Roman Roberts) is one of the more standard Countertechnique tools, designed to challenge the body to maintain dynamic balance while multitasking through multiple trajectories. Aptly named, the tripod works in three different directions: as the lower body moves down, the upper body moves up and back, eventually spiraling into an elegant twist.
This year has been a long and exhausting one for everyone. Am I right?? At this point, you guys are ready for a break, and a fresh start to 2019. We say, TREAT YOURSELVES! Finish off the year restfully by taking the time to relax and enjoy these seven rejuvenating activities. Make yourself a priority, because, honey, you deserve it!
Part of preparing your students for the professional world is teaching them class etiquette that they can take with them when they leave. Different jobs will require different expectations for manners and behavior, but there are certain principles that are stalwarts across the industry.
We reached out to dance teachers across the nation for 12 rules that most dance teachers swear by. Let us know over on our Facebook page what other rules should be on this list.
Jessie Laurita-Spanglet teaches modern dance at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Photo by Betsy Mann, courtesy of author
Nearly all dance educators experience injury at some point in their careers.
After I was diagnosed in 2016 with Freiberg's disease, a rare foot injury, I began asking myself a series of questions, starting with "What do we do when we can no longer teach by doing?"
When I explained the condition to my dance program director, I realized that even if my department were to give me a semester off from teaching technique, I didn't want to put my career on hold. With this in mind, I devised a plan for teaching my intermediate modern technique class while injured. What I discovered has changed some of my core beliefs about teaching.
Finding music is arguably the most challenging aspect of choreography. Songs that speak to you in a deep and genuine way are seriously hard to come by! To help, here are five music artists who provide choreography inspiration magic to all who listen to them. They're all the rage this year, and if you follow their music down the rabbit hole of streaming services long enough, you'll find exactly what you're looking for, for your next group number or solo.