Kandee Allen always knew she wanted service to be a major focus of her career. She had many opportunities to help others through dance in her youth, and the sentiment stuck with her. At 19 years old she and her mother opened Dance Impressions in Bountiful, Utah, home studio of "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 3 winner Sabra Johnson, and former Billy Elliot star Tade Biesinger.


In 2002, while sitting in the audience of a competition, the idea for how to incorporate charity into the fabric of her school was born. Allen and fellow Utah studio owner Penny Broussard (then owner of The Winner School) noticed that they were basically the only two studios in attendance that day. "Every other performance was either Dance Impressions or Winner School—it was almost comical," Allen says. Finally, Broussard turned to Allen and asked her how much her entry fees cost. Realizing that together they had paid roughly $68,000 dollars to essentially put on a recital for each other, they decided they could do something better with their money. Broussard reached out to a third Utah studio owner, Sheryl Dowling of The Dance Club, and together they created Art With Heart, a benefit concert for Shriners Hospital. As of today, the concert put on by these studios for the past 15 years has raised more than $673,000 dollars for children in need.

While Art With Heart has been successful, Allen says, it's also been a huge labor of love. "It takes an incredible amount of hard work and energy to make it happen," she says. "We couldn't do this without each studio and their faculty giving their full support to it." Planning begins a year in advance with reserving theater space. From there, Allen works closely with Shriners Hospital to produce the event.

"Early on we had to convince Shriners that this performance would be profitable, and that they wouldn't be held liable if it wasn't," she says. "Ever since the success of that first year, Shriners has been onboard right away." All funds raised go directly to the hospital. This past year the total was nearly $60,000 dollars.

The show includes 11 numbers from each studio, plus a graduating senior piece and a finale that everyone performs together. After the final number, children from Shriners Hospital come onstage and are presented with paper hearts from the dancers.

"There is nothing like the feeling in the theater when those kids come out—it's incredible," Allen says. "Dance is an art and not about competition and winning awards. It provides a venue to perform and share. Dance to create something beautiful; dance to be happy; dance to leave an impression on someone's heart. Just always keep dancing."

GO-TO TEACHING ATTIRE "I layer up with a lot of Jo+Jax. I like to wear layers because teaching temperatures can vary from room to room and moment to moment. I also wear Adidas running shoes when I teach. I don't want to have my legs ache all night!"

FAVORITE SNACK Fit Crunch Bars

GUILTY PLEASURES "Frozen custard, Chinese food and 'The Bachelor'!"

POST-TEACHING WIND-DOWN "A long, hot bath! I also love to have my feet zoned, or if I have any pain, I'll do some Ortho-Bionomy after teaching."

Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Jerome Capasso, courtesy of Man in Motion

Finding a male dance instructor who isn't booked solid can be a challenge, which is why a New York City dance educator was inspired to start a network of male dance professionals in 2012. Since then, he's tripled his roster of teachers and is actively hiring.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Getty Images

Halloween is just a few weeks away, which means it's officially time to start prepping your fabulously spooky costumes! Skip the classic witch, unicorn and superhero outfits, and trade them in for some ghosts of dance legends past. Wear your costumes to class, and use them as a way to teach a dance history lesson, or ask your students to dress up as their favorite dancer from history, and perform a few eight counts of their most famous repertoire during class. Your students will absolutely love it, and you'll be able to get in some real educating despite the distraction of the holiday!

Check out some ideas we had for who might be a good fit. We can't wait to see who you all dress up as!

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

You've got the teaching talent, the years of experience, the space and the passion—now all you need are some students!

Here are six ideas for getting the word out about your fabulous, up-and-coming program! We simply can't wait to see all the talent you produce with it!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Todd Rosenberg, courtesy of HSDC

This fall Hubbard Street Dance Chicago initiates an innovative choreographic-study project to pair local Chicago teens with company member Rena Butler, who in 2018 was named the Hubbard Street Choreographic Fellow. The Dance Lab Choreographic Fellowship is the vision of Kathryn Humphreys, director of HSDC's education, youth and community programs. "I am really excited to see young people realize possibilities, and realize what they are capable of," she says. "I think that high school is such an interesting, transformative time. They are right on the edge of figuring themselves out."

Keep reading... Show less
Getty Images

Q: What policies do you put in place to encourage parents of competition dancers to pay their bills in a timely manner?

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Photo courtesy of Kim Black

For some children, the first day of dance is a magic time filled with make-believe, music, smiles and movement. For others, all the excitement can be a bit intimidating, resulting in tears and hesitation. This is perfectly natural, and after 32 years of experience, I've got a pretty good system for getting those timid tiny dancers to open up. It usually takes a few classes before some students are completely comfortable. But before you know it, those hesitant students will begin enjoying the magic of creative movement and dance.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Photo via @igor.pastor on Instagram

Listen up, dance teachers! October 7 is National Frappe Day (the drink), but as dance enthusiasts, we obviously like to celebrate a little differently. We've compiled four fun frappé combinations on Instagram for your perusal!

You're welcome! Now, you can thank us by sharing some of your own frappé favs on social media with the hashtag #nationalfrappeday.

We can't wait to see what you come up with!

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
Original photos: Getty Images

We've been dying to hear more about "On Pointe," a docuseries following students at the School of American Ballet, since we first got wind of the project this spring. Now—finally!—we know where this can't-miss show is going to live: It was just announced that Disney+, the new streaming service set to launch November 12, has ordered the series.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Tony Nguyen, courtesy of Jill Randall

Recently I got to reflect on my 22-year-old self and the first modern technique classes I subbed for at Shawl-Anderson Dance Center in Berkeley, California. (Thank you to Dana Lawton for giving me the chance and opportunity to dive in.)

Today I wanted to share 10 ideas to consider as you embark upon subbing and teaching modern technique classes for the first time. These ideas can be helpful with adult classes and youth classes alike.

As I like to say, "Teaching takes teaching." I mean, teaching takes practice, trial and error and more practice. I myself am in my 23rd year of teaching now and am still learning and growing each and every class.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Misti Ridge teaches class at Center Stage Performing Arts Studio. Photo by Arlyn Lawrence , courtesy of Ridge

The dance teachers who work with kids ages 5–7 have earned themselves a special place in dance heaven. They give artists the foundation for their future with impossibly high energy and even higher voices. Enthusiasm is their game, and talent is their aim! Well, that, self-esteem, a love for dance, discipline and so much more!

These days, teachers often go a step beyond giving tiny dancers technical and performative bases and make them strong enough to actually compete at a national level—we're talking double-pirouettes-by-the-time-they're-5-years-old type of competitive.

We caught up with one such teacher, Misti Ridge from Center Stage Performing Arts Studio, The Dance Awards 2019 and 2012 Studio of The Year, to get the inside scoop on how she does it. The main takeaway? Don't underestimate your baby competition dancers—those 5- to 7-year-olds can work magic.

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
Patrick Randak, Courtesy In The Lights PR

The ability to communicate clearly is something I've been consumed with for as long as I can remember. I was born in the Bronx and always loved city living. But when I was 9, a family crisis forced my mom to send me to Puerto Rico to live with my grandparents. I only knew one Spanish word: "hola." I remember the frustration and loneliness of having so many thoughts and feelings and not being able to express them.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox