Leading a DanceMakers, Inc., ballet class

When Keith Clifton was 18, he booked a Dr Pepper commercial, and his performance career took off. He was part of a number of successful projects, including multiple “Be a Pepper” commercials, the 52nd annual Academy Awards with Donald O’Connor and 42nd Street at the Shubert Theatre in Los Angeles. And when Roland Dupree asked him to teach for Dupree Dance, Clifton became inspired by the other convention teachers. “I immediately knew I wanted to do what these people were doing,” he says. “They were actively changing children’s lives and making a difference in them as people and as dancers.”

He found the transition from performing to teaching surprisingly simple. “When you’re standing in the front of a room or on a stage teaching, you are entertaining,” he says. “You have to be an extrovert and find your niche, almost like a stand-up comedian, to make sure you’re keeping the class energized and excited about learning.”

Now, with a teaching career as impressive as his performance credits (after co-founding L.A. Danceforce and EDGE Performing Arts Center, he opened his own successful studio in 1996), Clifton spends his weekends traveling with DanceMakers, Inc. “Ballet is the foundation of all styles of dance, and to have the privilege and honor to teach it is a huge responsibility,” he says. And musicality plays a big role. “I try to be musical even in the way I speak and count, to encourage the dancers to really feel the music and tell its story,” he says. “It’s about them learning how to phrase their movement and mimic what they hear with their bodies.” DT

 

 

Artist: Josu Gallastegui

Album: Measure for Measure

“This album is one of my favorite, reliable choices. From adagio to allégro and plié to pirouette, it is straightforward and easy to count. The artist has a passionate approach to the piano, and his playing is full of character. The arrangements allow me to enjoy the melody and phrasing even after years of use. His other albums are great, too. My Turn is another favorite, because the melodies are luscious and haunting.”

 

 

Artist: Jamie Narushchen

Album: At the Movies with Narushchen

“For some truly beautiful music that is arranged for exercise and education, this is my go-to. Narushchen plays pieces that are light, fun, romantic and melancholy. He includes classics like Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag,” but also choices that might be more recognizable to children, like “We’re in the Club Now” from Disney’s Up and “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The melodies are soothing and allow for concentration and focus, but the familiar tunes also keep children excited as they anticipate what song they might hear next.”

 

 

Artist: Douglas Schultz

Album: Music from Company Class, Vol. 1

“This album has all the perfect tempos and elements a ballet class needs. His pirouette and waltz tracks are long enough to allow for repetitions when your class is at a size that you need to divide your students into groups. It’s a great album to turn to on days when your creativity isn’t at its highest, and you just need music that’s well-played and will help both you and your students conquer class. His style is very classical.”

 

 

Artist: David Plumpton

Album: Modern Melodies Inspirational Ballet Class Music

“He takes pieces from both popular movies and artists and puts them into waltz format. On this album, he meets the needs of a teacher who wants a true ballet class with contemporary music selections that will help keep younger students from running for the door when they haven’t yet gained an appreciation for piano music. He also has beautiful approaches to more classic music for class on other albums.”

 

 

Photo by Brien Rich, courtesy of DanceMakers, Inc.

Don’t miss a single issue of Dance Teacher.

The Conversation
Dance Teacher Tips
Getty Images

James Payne, director of The School of Pennsylvania Ballet, starts class each day by asking students how they feel. "If they're collectively hurting, and I know that the day before they were working hard on something new, I might lessen the intensity of the class," he says. "I won't slow it down, though. Sometimes it's better to move through the aches and get to the other side."

A productive class depends, in part, on how well it is paced. If you move too slow, you risk losing students' interest and creating unwanted heaviness. Move too fast and dancers might not fully benefit from combinations or get sufficiently warm, increasing their risk of injury. But even these guidelines may differ depending on the students' age and level. Good pacing is a delicate balance that can facilitate mental and physical growth, but it requires good planning, close observation and the ability to adapt mid-class.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Dance Teacher Web
Courtesy Dance Teacher Web

Dance students aren't the only ones who get to spend their summers learning new skills and refining their dance practice. Studio owners and administrators can also use the summer months to scope out new curriculum ideas, learn the latest business strategies and even earn a certification or two.

At Dance Teacher Web's Conference and Expo, attendees will spend July 29–August 1 in Las Vegas, Nevada learning everything from new teaching methods to studio management software. And as if the dance and business seminars weren't enough, participants can also choose from three certifications to earn during the conference to help expand their expertise, generate new revenue and set their studios apart:

Keep reading... Show less
Getty Images

Q: Our dancers' parents want to observe class, but students won't focus if I let them in the room. I've tried having them observe the last 10 minutes of class, but even that can be disruptive and bring the dancers' progress to a halt. Do you have any advice on how to handle this?

Keep reading... Show less
David Galindo Photography

New York City is a dream destination for many dancers. However aspiring Broadway stars don't have to wait until they're pros to experience all the city has to offer. With Dance the World Broadway, students can get a taste of the Big Apple—plus hone their dance skills and make lasting memories.

Here's why Dance the World Broadway is the best way for students to experience NYC:

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

Running your own studio often comes with a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps mentality. After all, you're the one who teaches class, creates choreography, collects tuition, plans a recital, calls parents, answers e-mails, orders costumes—plus a host of other tasks, some of which you probably don't even think about. But what if you had someone to help you, someone who could take certain routine or clerical tasks off your hands, freeing you up to focus on what you love?

Keep reading... Show less
Courtesy of Roxey Ballet

This weekend, Roxey Ballet presented a sensory-friendly production of Cinderella at the Kendell Main Stage Theater in Ewing, New Jersey, with sound adjustments, a relaxed house environment and volunteers present to assist audience members with special needs. The production came on the heels of three educational residencies held at New Jersey–based elementary schools in honor of Autism Awareness Month in April.

Keep reading... Show less
To Share With Students
Shared via Dance Teacher Network Facebook

I'm a part of a popular group on Facebook called Dance Teacher Network which consists of dance teachers across the country discussing and sharing information on all things dance. Yesterday morning, I spotted a photo shared in the group of four smiling young boys in a dance studio. And I couldn't help but smile to myself and think, "Wow, I never had that...that's pretty damn amazing."

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy of Marr

When Erica Marr discovered ballroom dancing in her late teens, she instantly fell in love with the Latin beats and strong drum lines that challenged her musicality. After shifting her focus away from contemporary and jazz, she began studying with elite ballroom coaches in New York City and quickly earned a World Championship title in her division.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Thinkstock

Q: I own a studio in a city that has a competitive dance market. I've seen other studios in my community put ads on Instagram and Facebook for open-call auditions in April, long before most studios have finished their competition season and year-end recitals. Is this fair?

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Thinkstock

Q: How can I improve my pointed feet?

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
YouTube

Did you know there is an annual contest in which scientists turn their PhD research into dance? Well there is, and it's even better than you're imagining! I mean, honestly, if our grade-school science teachers had us turn our schoolwork into dances, we may have enjoyed chemistry a bit more 🤣.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox