Trending

Lisa Shed's Favorite Prop for Littles Is the Parachute

Photo courtesy of Shed

In 1992 while studying early childhood education at Texas A&M University, Lisa Shed decided to make the bold move of starting her own dance studio, Lisa's Dance Connection, 90 miles away in her hometown of Temple, Texas. Three days a week she would make the commute to teach her eight young students, then wake up the next morning at 6 am to make it to her 8 am class at school. Each year the studio would double or triple in size, and by the time she graduated college, she had more than 100 students. At that point she moved back to Temple and invested all of her time and energy into developing her studio. Since then, they've outgrown multiple building locations, and today she has an impressive 500 students and counting.


As the business has grown and Shed's staff has expanded, she's been able to focus her energy on her role as owner, director and administrator—something she says she loves just as much as teaching. "It's important to me that I don't just passively own this business, but that I'm actually invested in it," Shed says.

Even with all she has going on as owner, Shed still finds time to teach each week. "I teach both the youngest and the oldest students at our studio," she says. "I teach the babies and the senior citizens. I love this age range because you have to make things basic and really know how to get your message across and have it make sense. It's an exciting challenge."

SHE NEVER LEAVES HOME WITHOUT "My lip gloss and my pocket calendar."

GO-TO TEACHING ATTIRE "I think it's important for the teacher to set the tone for class. When I'm teaching littles, I wear traditional leotards from Capezio, with a ballet wrap-skirt from Gilda Marx. For hip-hop or adult classes I like to wear a tank with black dance pants."

MOST-LOVED TEACHING PROP "I find props are really helpful for preschool classes. The kids don't even realize they are learning when they're involved. My favorite prop is a parachute—the possibilities are endless when we pull it out."

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

Keep reading... Show less
Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.