Although Neil Schwartz has had the pleasure of working with artists like ASTR and Bosco and has choreographed performances and industrials for “Good Morning America” and Sephora, it’s teaching that really drives his passion for dance. In his regular street jazz classes at Broadway Dance Center in New York City and master classes around the world, he believes one of the most important things he can do as a teacher is challenge his students musically and emotionally. “I always tell them they have to look beyond the ‘5, 6, 7, 8,’” he says. “People today are getting too caught up in the steps instead of the feelings that should be coming across with their performance.”

Schwartz sets aside time once a week to research music, and he usually knows within seconds if he has found a song he wants to use for choreography. “I search through music blogs, the iTunes library and SoundCloud to discover new music,” he says. “I’m a huge movie buff, so each piece that I create, I picture what it would be like if I set it as a short video or film.” DT

 

 

Artist: ASTR

Song: “Activate Me”

“I’ve been listening to their music for years, and I was fortunate enough to have had the honor of choreographing for these artists. I love to use their music for everything from a warm-up to setting pieces and choreography. This song has an electronic dance vibe to it. It’s one that I can put on repeat and never get tired of. I really strive for musicality and performance in my classes, and this song is a perfect fit.”

 

 

Artist: J*Davey

Song: “Strong Anticipation”

“I’m a huge J*Davey fan and have been for quite some time. There’s something about their music and artistry that sets them apart in so many ways. This song is a mixture of soul, R&B, dance and electronic music, and it’s a mix that really inspires my musicality.”

 

 

Artist: Bosco

Song: “Gold Ghost”

“This is another artist I’ve had the pleasure of working with. I consider Bosco a breath of fresh air. Her music is extremely soulful, and it reminds me of ’90s R&B—a genre I’m a huge fan of. It took me 10 seconds of listening to this to know that I had to use it for a class combo. It’s the type of song you can get totally lost in.”

 

 

Artist: SWV

Song: “#MCE”

“This song is very catchy, especially for a ’90s R&B fan like me. I’ve been listening and dancing to SWV since I was about 7—I grew up to this music—so it was no surprise that I want to choreograph to it now. I used this song for my first class of 2016, and the energy it brought into the classroom was nothing short of amazing.”

 

 

Artist: The Internet

Song: “Get Away”

“It took less than five seconds for this particular song to catch my attention. It’s a beautiful mix of neo soul, hip hop and R&B and was by far one of my favorite songs of 2015. At first, I used it for warm-up, but I’m considering using it for a class combination now.” 

 

 

Photo by Shar Adrias, courtesy of Schwartz

Don’t miss a single issue of Dance Teacher.

Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine

When choosing music for tap, Jason Samuels Smith encourages teachers to start with classic jazz music. Improvisation, call and response, and syncopated rhythms embedded in the genre and its history, in general, help students to understand the structure of tap, which is different than other styles of dance. "Tap dancers have the responsibility to be more than just a visual artist," he says. "They're an instrument and a sound."

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Success with Just for Kix
Bill Johnson, Courtesy Just for Kix

Running a dance studio is a feat in itself. But adding a competition team into the mix brings a whole new set of challenges. Not only are you focusing on giving your dancers the best training possible, but you're navigating the fast-paced competition and convention circuit. Winning is one goal, but you also want to create an environment that's fun, educational and inspiring for young artists. We asked Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner with over 40 years of experience, for her advice on building a healthy dance team culture:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Photo Courtesy of Ballet Next

In 2011, when former American Ballet Theatre principal Michele Wiles departed the company and formed BalletNext, she found an artistic freedom she'd been longing for. Along with new collaborations with choreographers and musicians, she began working with trumpeter Tom Harrell, who introduced her to the multilayered sounds of jazz. "The dancers are another instrument to a jazz musician," says Wiles. Pairing this music genre with her classical foundation has been pivotal in defining her style. "I have this classical facility, but my mind is more contemporary. Jazz is a good intersection for my work," she says.

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 Summit
Photo by Rachel Papo

Martin Harvey brought a little movie star charm into morning ballet class at our New York Dance Teacher Summit. (His acting credits include Gossip Girls, All My Children, Dirty Dancing, A Chorus Line, Carousel, plus Metropolitan Opera productions of Carmen and Manon Lescaut.) Educated at the Royal Ballet School in London, he danced many principal roles for The Royal Ballet during his 12-year career.

Mark Your Calendar

Join us in Long Beach, CA, July 26–28, or in NYC, August 1–3, for our 2019 Dance Teacher Summit.

Dance Teacher Tips
Thinkstock

Q: What suggestions do you have for dancers to get their shoulder blades to lie flat on their backs?

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
Dance Teacher Summit
Photo by Sarah Ash, courtesy of Larkin Dance

Ask Michele Larkin-Wagner and Molly Larkin-Symanietz what sets them and Maplewood, Minnesota–based Larkin Dance Studio apart, and they immediately give the credit to their mom. Shirley Larkin founded the school in 1950 and continued to oversee the growing business until she passed away in 2011. "She put Minnesota on the map for dance training and made other local studios step up to the plate to become as strong as we are," Michele says. "A lot of people's lives are better because of Shirley Larkin."

For Michele and Molly, following in their mom's footsteps was a no-brainer. "I knew I was going to be a choreographer and take over the studio," Michele says. To Molly, seven years Michele's junior and the baby out of six siblings, the studio was always a second home. The two sisters trained across genres but had distinct specialties: Michele found her niche in jazz, musical theater and lyrical, while Molly excelled in tap. In the summers, they'd travel for workshops in Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles. While Michele was in class with jazz legends like Gus Giordano, JoJo Smith, Luigi and Frank Hatchett, Molly was taking tap classes with the likes of Brenda Bufalino and Phil Black.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Summit
Photo courtesy of Gandarillas

In Macarena Gandarillas' jazz class at California State University, Fullerton, a sign in the studio reads, "Never underestimate the power of determination." This simple mantra embodies what has made this self-described "danceaholic" such an impactful teacher.

When Gandarillas came to Los Angeles at age 6 with her family from Santiago, Chile, the language barrier was beyond overwhelming—until her mom enrolled her in ballet classes. Gandarillas found an instant love. "There were no Spanish-speaking kids at my school," she says. "But with dance I could communicate with my body. I'd finally found my voice."

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

Q: Is teaching for an after-school program a good way to find a job in K–12?

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Summit
Photo courtesy of Inspire School of Arts and Sciences

It was the morning of November 8, 2018, and Jarrah Myles' first-period choreography students were in last-minute rehearsals for their fall dance concert that evening. "All of a sudden my students' phones started ringing like crazy," says Myles, a teacher at Inspire School of Arts and Sciences, a Chico, California, high school whose dance and theater programs Myles helped establish in 2010. "And once they answered, I saw these tragic faces staring back at me."

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox