"Fosse loved when his work was done by ballet dancers. They stand out onstage because their bodies look different, and their muscles are longer,” says Krissy Richmond, whose ballet roots led her to an extensive musical theater career. After dancing with the Beaumont Civic Ballet, The Washington Ballet and Houston Ballet, Richmond broke into Broadway in her 30s, and starring credits include featured roles in The Phantom of the Opera, Roxie Hart in Chicago and the Queen in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. Now, the Texas native teaches both ballet and theater dance at Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy, University of Houston, Hope Stone Center, Marsha Woody Academy of Dance and Beaumont Civic Ballet, as well as frequently traveling for outreach and master classes.


Richmond especially enjoys teaching her Fosse-inspired jazz style to ballet students, keeping in mind that the toughest thing about her transition was learning to sing. “You have to let go of your center to support the diaphragm,” she says. “That’s the exact opposite of what you do in ballet.” So she encourages students to belt out a tune in her classes to expose them to the challenges and rewards of being a triple threat. “There are some really great opportunities out there for dancers on Broadway,” she says. “I wish I could have taken that information in a little bit sooner. It’s great for kids to keep an ope­n mind and experience other dance forms.” Here, Richmond shares the music that motivates all students to get in touch with their inner Broadway babies. DT


Artist: Black Eyed Peas

Song: “I Gotta Feeling”


“I like to start with something upbeat like the Black Eyed Peas. Even though we might be moving slower—stretching, shoulder and head rolls or rib cage and hip isolations—it at least gets the class moving with some energy. Before, I’ve tried using something more adagio, but it never works. My choreography is pretty fast, so I try to get students’ energy up quickly.”


Artist: Beyoncé

Song: “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”


“Especially when I do outreach, I like to get students to see how artists influence each other across generations. The dancing in Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies’ video is so close to choreography that Bob Fosse did for Gwen Verdon and two other women in the 1960s. He affected a wide range of artists, not just in musical theater, so I try to make his choreography relevant to students’ lives.”


Artist: Lady Gaga

Song: “Born This Way”


“I like to use what’s on the radio right now, and Lady Gaga is very popular. ‘Born This Way’ is great for incorporating a little bit of hip hop into choreography, and I use it when we’re going across the floor. The instrumental at the beginning of this song sounds so similar to Madonna, again demonstrating how different generations of music are interrelated.”


Album: A Chorus Line


“I do use traditional Broadway music. A Chorus Line is one of my favorites. The combinations from the beginning are really good to teach to ballet dancers because of all the pirouettes. I try to mix it up with different styles of musical theater, too. I just taught a version of Hairspray to the Houston Ballet kids, and they really enjoyed that. And I also love to use West Side Story.”


Photo: Krissy Richmond in Chicago (by Paul Kolnik, courtesy of Krissy Richmond)

Dance Teachers Trending
Roshe (center) teaching at Steps on Broadway in New York City. Photo by Jacob Hiss, courtesy of Roshe

Although Debbie Roshe's class doesn't demand perfect technique or mastering complicated tricks, her intricate musicality is what really challenges students. "Holding weird counts to obscure music is harder," she says of her Fosse-influenced jazz style, "but it's more interesting."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Dean College
Amanda Donahue, ATC, working with a student in her clinic in the Palladino School of Dance at Dean College. Courtesy Dean College

The Joan Phelps Palladino School of Dance at Dean College is one of just 10 college programs in the U.S. with a full-time athletic trainer devoted solely to its dancers. But what makes the school even more unique is that certified athletic trainer Amanda Donahue isn't just available to the students for appointments and backstage coverage—she's in the studio with them and collaborating with dance faculty to prevent injuries and build stronger dancers.

"Gone are the days when people would say, 'Don't go to the gym, you'll bulk up,'" says Kristina Berger, who teaches Horton and Hawkins technique as an assistant professor of dance. "We understand now that cross-training is actually vital, and how we've embraced that at Dean is extremely rare. For one thing, we're not sharing an athletic trainer with the football players, who require a totally different skillset." For another, she says, the faculty and Donahue are focused on giving students tools to prolong their careers.

After six years of this approach, here are the benefits they've seen:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips

Since the dawn of time, performers have had to deal with annoying, constant blisters. As every dance teacher knows (and every student is sure to find out), blisters are a fact of life, and we all need to figure out a plan of action for how to deal with them.

Instead of bleeding through pointe shoes and begging you to let them sit out, your students should know these tricks for how to prevent/deal with their skin when it starts to sting.

You're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Alternative Balance
Courtesy Alternative Balance

As a dance teacher, you know more than anyone that things can go wrong—students blank on choreography onstage, costumes don't fit and dancers quit the competition team unexpectedly. Why not apply that same mindset to your status as an independent contractor at a studio or as a studio owner?

Insurance is there to give you peace of mind, even when the unexpected happens. (Especially since attorney fees can be expensive, even when you've done nothing wrong as a teacher.) Taking a preemptive approach to your career—insuring yourself—can save you money, time and stress in the long run.

We talked to expert Miriam Ball of Alternative Balance Professional Group about five scenarios in which having insurance would be key.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Brian Guilliaux, courtesy of Coudron

Eric Coudron understands firsthand the hurdles competition dancers face when falling in love with ballet. Now the director of ballet at Prodigy Dance and Performing Arts Centre in Frisco, Texas, Coudron trained as a competition dancer when he was growing up. "It's such a structured form of dance that when they come back to it after all of the other styles they are training in, they don't feel at home at the barre," he says.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Kendra Portier. Photo by Scott Shaw, courtesy of Gibney Dance

As an artist in residence at the University of Maryland in College Park, Kendra Portier is in a unique position. After almost a decade of performing with David Dorfman Dance and three years earning her MFA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she's using her two-year gig at UMD (through spring 2020) to "see how teaching in academia really feels," she says. It's also given her the rare opportunity to feel grounded. "I'm going to be here for two years," she says, which offers her the chance to figure out the answers to some hard questions. "What does it mean to not dance for somebody else?" she asks. "What does it mean to take my work more seriously? To realize I really like making work, and figuring out how that can happen in an academic place."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Turn It Up Dance Challenge
Courtesy Turn It Up

With back-to-back classes, early-morning stage calls and remembering to pack countless costume accessories, competition and convention weekends can feel like a whirlwind for even the most seasoned of studios. Take the advice of Turn It Up Dance Challenge master teachers Alex Wong and Maud Arnold and president Melissa Burns on how to make the experience feel meaningful and successful for your dancers:

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Deanna Paolantonio leads a workshop. Photo courtesy of Paolantonio

Deanna Paolantonio had been interested in body positivity long before diabetes ever crossed her mind. As a Zumba and Pilates instructor who had just earned her master's degree in dance studies, she focused her research on the relationship between fitness and body image for women and young girls. Then, at age 25, just as she was accepted into the PhD program at York University in Toronto, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D).

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by The Studio Director

As a studio owner, you're probably pretty used to juggling. Running a business is demanding, with new questions and challenges pulling your attention in a million different directions each day.

But there's a solution that could be saving you time and money (and sanity!). Studio management systems are easy-to-use software programs designed for the particular needs of studio owners, offering tools like billing, enrollment, inventory and emails, all in one place. The right studio management system can help you handle the day-to-day tasks that bog you down as a business owner, leaving you more time for the most important work—like connecting with students and planning creative curriculums for them. Plus, these systems can keep you from spending extra money on hiring multiple specialists or using multiple platforms to meet your administrative needs.

So how do you make sure you're choosing a studio management system that offers the same quality that your studio does? We talked to The Studio Director—whose studio management system provides a whole host of streamlined features—about the must-haves for any system, and the bonuses that make an excellent product stand out:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Robin Nasatir (center) with Peter Brown and Vicki Gunter. Photo by Christian Peacock

On a sunny Thursday morning in Berkeley, California, Robin Nasatir leads her modern class through a classic seated floor warm-up full of luscious curves and tilts to the soothing grooves of Bobby McFerrin. Though her modern style is rooted in traditional José Limón and Erick Hawkins techniques, the makeup of her class is far from conventional. Her students range in age from 30 all the way to early 80s.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Getty Images

Q: I need advice on proper classroom management for dancers in K–12—I can't get them to focus.

A: Classroom management in a K–12 setting is no different than in a studio. No matter where you teach, I recommend using a positive-reinforcement approach first. As a general rule, what you pay attention to is what you get. When a student acts out, it's generally done in order to gain attention. Rather than giving attention to them for inappropriate behavior, call out other students who are exhibiting the positive behaviors you desire. Name the good actions, and all of your students will quickly learn what it takes to be noticed.

Keep reading... Show less


Get DanceTeacher in your inbox