Dance Teachers Trending

This Hot Springs High School Teacher Helped to Transform the Inner-City School's Dance Program

Photo by Aaron Brewer, courtesy of Amy Bramlett Turner

In Take the Lead, actor Antonio Banderas wins over a group of reluctant inner-city students with a racy tango performance. While the 2006 film was inspired by Pierre Dulaine, ballroom dancer and founder of Dancing Classrooms, teaching in a public school is rarely as easy as it looks in the movies. From financial challenges to lack of administrative support and parental involvement, public-school teaching differs greatly from the studio environments in which most dance educators began their own training. We asked several public-school teachers to share their passion for the hardest job they've ever done. —Kat Richter


Amy Bramlett Turner

Hot Springs World Class High School

Hot Springs, Arkansas

My school is in the inner-city district, where 100 percent of our students have free lunch, are on food backpack programs and come from low-income, at-risk homes or may even be classified as homeless. Before I started teaching, I saw that the kids had to pay for their costumes at a school concert. The kids who couldn't afford costumes had to stand onstage in T-shirts and jazz pants. It was really exclusionary, and I knew I didn't want that.

During my first three years, the school district built a dance studio at every campus (elementary, intermediate, middle and high school), yet I taught without a budget the first two years. I reached out to community organizations and wrote grants. We sold everything from headbands to candy to cookie dough. It wasn't fun, but we raised $20,000 in the first year. Now we can provide all of the students with real costumes, shoes and tights. We also have money to bring in guest artists or go see professional shows. Between teaching, fundraising, maintaining social-media accounts for our dance programs and sometimes even driving my students from one campus to another, I feel like I work 24/7, but I wouldn't want to do it in any other district.

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Schedules, routines, parents, music and so much more—there's plenty on your plate already. Why mess with the headache of collecting orders and cash if you don't have to? MoveU can take that off of your hands entirely with their Online Stores. Create beautiful one-of-a-kind designs with their designers and watch your store come to life! How much does the set-up cost? Nothing! In fact, you earn 10% back on all orders your dancers make in that store.

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Tiffany Taylor and her baby Skyler

When dance teacher Tiffany Taylor decided it was time to go back to her job after having her baby, 14-month-old Skyler, she knew she needed to find a way to bring her little one to work with her. At Maria Priadka School of Dance in South Orange, New Jersey, where she teaches, students can't begin taking lessons until they are 2 1/2 years old, so putting Skyler in class while she taught was out of the question. To solve the problem, she decided it was time to create a dance class that both caregivers and babies (from 6 months to 2 years old) could enjoy. Shortly after, Boogie Woogie Babies was born.

During a Boogie Woogie Babies class, moms, dads, nannies and caregivers have the opportunity to bust a move while carrying their snuggly babe on their hip. Taylor says classes are generally based in hip hop and always incorporate fun and lively music for everyone to enjoy.

"We start class sitting in a circle, where we sing songs," Taylor says. "We use scarves and other props while playing games like Ring Around the Rosie to get our bodies moving. Then, everyone will get up and either hold their babies or let them run free if they want to, while I teach the choreography, which is built around their kids. We do a new routine every week with different songs and formations to keep things fun for the 45 minutes I have them in class."

While Taylor teaches Boogie Woogie Babies at Maria Priadka School of Dance every Sunday, she's also traveling to different locations around New Jersey to expand her classes into an entire movement that everyone can experience. "Everyone really enjoys these classes," she says. "We recently had one where 40 students showed up to a class at a local library. The kids were jumping around and loving it!"

If you're interested in learning more about Boogie Woogie Babies, you can follow them on Instagram at @boogiewoogiebabies or Facebook at Boogie Woogie Babies.

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