Benz (in hat) gives hopeful pre-professionals a real taste of the industry.

Chase Benz was just 10 years old when he watched Michael Jackson's Dangerous Tour on TV, and he knew then that he wanted to perform for the rest of his life. As a budding young dancer, he booked his first world tour at age 15, and since then, the Nashville native has toured with Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Rihanna. But it isn't just about dance for Benz. “If anything, the dancing is secondary," he says. “It's the all-encompassing aspect of a performance that I really love."

While working as the choreographer for Donna Summer's final tour, Benz learned to really think in terms of a full performance. “I was learning something every second, because she had an answer for everything," he says. “She had been doing that for so many years, and she understood what a show needs for it to really resonate. She taught me to figure out what the audience wants to see and how to give them a performance that includes them and sends them away feeling good."

Currently, Benz serves as the dance captain and co-choreographer on the Britney Spears Las Vegas show, Britney: Piece of Me. He also founded The Academy of Entertainment, a weekend workshop that gives young dancers a real taste of the industry. “I see so many kids pick up and move to a big city to dance, but they have no clue what it really takes and give up after a few months. We want to give these kids a good education and a reality check so they're prepared for the industry." DT

Artist: Bruno Mars

Album: Unorthodox Jukebox

“Bruno Mars never disappoints. His shows are performance at its best, because they look and feel natural while being fun and showing off strengths. I try to incorporate that live-show feel in my classes, and if I'm teaching something with a funk vibe, his music is perfect."

Artist: Maroon 5

Album: V

“Maroon 5 always releases a great album. The lead singer Adam Levine brings a mix of everything—funk, alternative, pop, etc. I come from a style of training that involves a little bit of everything like that, so I like to let the sound of the song dictate what I'm going to teach."

Artist: Major Lazer

Album: Peace Is the Mission

“Major Lazer has an electronic-DJ sound that seems to always stay current and exciting. The music is great for a warm-up or workout, because it combines so many elements of sound into one song. The vocals, tempo and beat are a great mix that gets you ready to move."

Artist: Deorro and Chris Brown

Song: Five More Hours

I've always liked using Chris Brown's music to teach, because I find that people really seem to be able to let go. There's never a dull moment. It's fast-paced with a funky house beat that keeps it going all the way through the song, and the beat drops continually, making it great for spontaneous movement."

Artist: Basecamp

Album: Greater Than

“Something about this group's music is genuinely so attractive to me. The voice and the deep house and lyrics really pull you in and keep you there. They have Nashville roots like me, so I feel like there's a piece of home in this music. If I want to vibe out or teach to something that starts out a little more slowly and then picks up musically, they do the trick."

Photo courtesy of Benz

Don't miss a single issue of Dance Teacher.

Dance Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy of Kreiling

While training with Abby Lee Miller in Pittsburgh, Rachel Kreiling underestimated the studio's requirement of enrolling in every class. The versatile curriculum (tap, ballet, hip hop, modern, acro, lyrical and jazz) paired with Miller's unconventional teaching style, since showcased on "Dance Moms," greatly impacted Kreiling's own style and relationship to music. "Abby would play the music and choreograph within the phrasing, but rarely to actual counts," she says. This resulted in a huge positive learning component. "I had to learn musicality myself," says Kreiling, who left the studio at age 18 after graduating, more than a decade before the Lifetime network show aired. "And studying every style became instrumental in my attachment to music," she adds. "I'm always seeking out new genres and diverse songs." After a performing career that included a Broadway-style revue at Tokyo Disney, Revolution (a tap tour with Mike Schulster), and dancing with Alison Chase/Performance and in a Rasta Thomas contemporary ballet, Kreiling began assisting Suzi Taylor at Steps on Broadway in New York City. In 2007, Kreiling, who describes her class as extremely athletic and technical, became full-time NYCDA faculty.

Keep reading... Show less
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
Dancer Health
Getty Images

Q: Two years ago, one of my dancers fractured her ankle and was out for six months. Upon her return, I cautiously allowed her to take pointe class, but treated her as if she was a beginner, because she was rolling out into supination, and I was fearful she would reinjure her ankle. Her mother feels I have held her back and changed to another studio. Did I make the right choice?

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Courtesy of Shawl-Anderson Dance Center

For seven decades, Frank Shawl's bright and kind spirit touched thousands of dancers in the studio and in the audience.

After dancing professionally in New York City and with the May O'Donnell Dance Company, Shawl moved with Victor Anderson to the San Francisco Bay Area and founded Shawl-Anderson Dance Center in 1958. It is the longest running arts organization in Berkeley.

The two ran their own company for 15 years and Shawl-Anderson Dance Center became a home for dance for students and artists alike. It currently runs 120 classes and workshops every week for children and adults, plus artist residencies, rehearsal space and intimate performances. (If you have never visited, the Center is actually a large house converted into four studio spaces.)

Shawl taught modern classes at the studio until 1990, performed into his late 70s and took classes at the Center into his mid 80s.

As I simultaneously mourn and honor Frank—my dear friend, fellow dancer, mentor and boss—I reflect on a few lessons that I learned from him. These five ideas relate to our various roles in dance as students, performers, teachers and administrators.

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
Site Network
Alicia Alonso with Igor Youskevitch. Photo by Sedge Leblang, courtesy of Dance Magazine Archives

Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"

At 8, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle at with Ballet Theatre, she staked her claim to that title role.

Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.

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
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

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox