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The Conversation
Health & Body
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The term "body shaming" might bring up memories of that instructor from your own training who made critical remarks about—or even poked and prodded—dancers' bodies.

Thankfully, we're (mostly) past the days when authority figures felt free to openly mock a dancer's appearance. But body shaming remains a toxic presence in the studio, says Dr. Nadine Kaslow, psychologist for Atlanta Ballet: "It's just more hidden and more subtle." Here's how to make sure your teaching isn't part of the problem.

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Sponsored by Just For Kix
A personalized e-commerce tool like Just For Kix's Dance Teacher Program could be the one catchall that makes your job a bit easier. (Courtesy Just For Kix)

Being a dance teacher, coach or studio owner is no easy feat—especially right now.

But whether you're calmly prepping for next season or frantically gluing rhinestones for a performance that's now earlier than you expected, a personalized e-commerce tool like Just For Kix's Dance Teacher Program could be the one catchall that makes your job a bit easier.

With incredible customer service, special prices on exclusive products, and the option to create an online storefront for your team, Just For Kix's Dance Teacher Program provides coaches and studio owners with a simple way to generate income and make dancewear-buying more convenient for dance educators and parents alike.

Dance Teacher spoke with Cindy Clough, owner and director of Just For Kix, and Kelsey Vercruysse, head coach of the Minnetonka Performance Dance Team, to learn how teachers can maximize the Teacher Program's stress-saving perks.
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News
Courtesy Russell

Gregg Russell, an Emmy-nominated choreographer known for his passionate and energetic teaching, passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, November 22, at the age of 48.

While perhaps most revered as a master tap instructor and performer, Russell also frequently taught hip-hop and musical theater classes, showcasing a versatility that secured him a successful career onstage and in film and television, both nationally and abroad.

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Leap! Executive Director Drew Vamosi (Courtesy Leap!)

Since its inaugural season in 2012, Leap! National Dance Competition has been all about the little things.

"I wanted to have a 'boutique' competition. One where we went out to only one city every weekend, so I could be there myself, and we could really get to know the teachers and watch their kids progress from year to year," says Leap! executive director Drew Vamosi. According to Vamosi, thoughtful details make all the difference, especially during a global pandemic that's thrown many dancers' typical comp-season schedules for a loop. That's why Leap! prides itself on features like its professional-quality set design, as well as its one-of-a-kind leaping competition, where dancers can show off their best tricks for special cash and merchandise prizes.

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Teaching Tips
@jayplayimagery, courtesy Blackstone

Zoom classes have created a host of challenges to overcome, but this new way of learning has also had some surprising perks. Students and educators are becoming more adaptable. Creativity is blossoming even amid space constraints. Dancers have been able to broaden their horizons without ever leaving home.

In short, in a year filled with setbacks, there is still a lot to celebrate. Dance Teacher spoke to four teachers about the virtual victories they've seen thus far and how they hope to keep the momentum going back in the classroom.

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Teachers Trending
Finis Jhung teaching a virtual class. Photo courtesy Ruden

Looking back, it's hard to describe how terrifying the early days of the pandemic were in New York City. The sudden shutdown of our daily lives; the scarcity of toilet paper and reports of food shortages; the empty stillness of the streets of Manhattan and the sight of the USNS Comfort hospital ship from my bedroom window; the conflicting information on how to stay safe; and the daily press conferences with Governor Cuomo recounting intubations and the daily death toll.

I watched the hospital employees walking to Mount Sinai Hospital next door and marked the passing of time by the daily seven o'clock tribute to essential workers that broke the eerie silences.

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News
Betty Jones in The Moor's Pavane, shot for Dance Magazine's "Dancers You Should Know" series in 1955. Zachary Freyman, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow

An anchor of the Humphrey-Limón legacy for more than 70 years, Betty Jones died at her home in Honolulu on November 17, 2020. She remained active well into her 90s, most recently leading a New York workshop with her husband and partner, Fritz Ludin, in October 2019.

Betty May Jones was born on June 11, 1926 in Meadville, Pennsylvania, and moved with her family to the Albany, New York, area, where she began taking dance classes. Just after she turned 15 in 1941, she began serious ballet study at Jacob's Pillow, which was under the direction of Anton Dolin and Alicia Markova for the season. Over the next three summers as a scholarship student, Jones expanded her range and became an integral part of Jacob's Pillow. Among her duties was working in the kitchen, where her speedy efficiency earned her the nickname of "Lightning."

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Teachers Trending
Break the Floor Productions, courtesy Meismer

Revered NUVO convention teacher Mark Meismer has made a career out of not compromising his values—and it's paid off.

Take Meismer's practically unheard-of NUVO convention schedule—a weekly Friday/Saturday shift that's allowed him to prioritize time with his daughter and attend church on Sundays.

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Teaching Tips
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It won't come as news to dance teachers that all good teaching begins with motivation and positive behavior. Without solid behavior management techniques, teachers simply don't get to teach.

As a professor of teacher education at Miami University, I've both taught these research-based techniques and put them into practice—from teen ballet classes to college-level ballroom courses.

Here are four strategies I recommend to keep your classroom focused on learning.

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To Share With Students
Jill Randall

Whether you're getting a head start on holiday shopping, seeking books to add to your curriculum or studio lobby, or entertaining a young dancer at home, 2020 has been a banner year for dance-focused children's books.

Dance Teacher rounded up six of the most exciting—from the origin story of ballet's biggest star to celebrations of boys dancing to breaking down dances from around the world. (Bonus: Several are available in audiobook and/or video form!)

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Teaching Tips
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For dance teachers, it's natural to want to treat students equally. But that doesn't always honor their varying backgrounds, abilities and strengths. To address this, some instructors implement differentiated instruction in their classes, a teaching method that provides students with customized material based on their individual abilities instead of holding them to a single, inflexible standard.

In the dance studio, differentiated instruction could mean teaching for students with multiple learning styles by calling out terms the first time a combination is demonstrated, repeating it with counts, and demonstrating a third time singing the lyrics. Or, it could mean giving different turns to students depending on their prior studies, so that everyone is dancing together but in personally beneficial ways.

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