When it comes to physicality, dancers are athletes. Watch a New York Knicks game, for example, and you'll see the Knicks City Dancers work just as hard as the basketball players. Their routines are packed with energy and intensity. Plus, they continue performing on the sidelines, with little time to rest.


Dancers need lung power and muscle strength to push through energy-draining solos, tough choreography or four acts of Swan Lake. They also need it to prevent fatigue-related injuries. While you can make additions to your classes and rehearsals to push their stamina, dance alone will not build cardiovascular strength. Students need to supplement with cross-training to be in top physical condition.

In the Studio

There are ways to incorporate stamina-increasing exercises into technique class. "It has to be part of the curriculum that gets built up slowly," says Darla Hoover, associate artistic director of Ballet Academy East. By the time BAE students are 8, they're jumping for 10–15 minutes at the barre. Hoover has them do a series of slow jetés, for example, in which they brush, jump and hold plié. Students then remain in the position while she walks around to adjust their placement. "They have to wait while I'm fixing someone, even if their thighs burn. It's not fun. But those are the moments when they're getting stronger."

Once a week, advanced students at Savage Dance Company in Sykesville, Maryland, take a conditioning class that focuses on core work and upper-body strength, finishing with 20 minutes of an aerobic activity like jogging. "It's like a jazzercise class," says owner Nichole Savage. "The kids aren't worrying about a turn or leg extension, but concentrating on their heart rate and cardiovascular work."

You can also build stamina in rehearsals by running dances twice in a row. "The second time through will look dismal," says Hoover, "but when the students get onstage and do it only once, they'll have all the energy they need." Help them push through that second time by asking them to focus on breathing with the music. Slowing down the breath will oxygenate muscles and refocus energy and attention. Also, identifying less demanding parts of the choreography will help them learn where they can conserve energy. Not every step needs to be performed to 100 percent.

Cross-Training

Though in-class exercises will build stamina, dancers need to do aerobic activity outside of the studio to reach greater cardiovascular and muscular endurance. If not, their bodies may learn to adjust to specific routines or class patterns without necessarily improving their overall strength.

"When dancers just take class and run through their routines, they develop stamina specifically for that routine and their bodies get used to it," says Monica Lorenzo, athletic trainer for the Radio City Rockettes and the Knicks City Dancers. "They need other activity to keep their bodies in their most ideal and efficient form."

Lorenzo recommends low-weight, high-rep weight training in combination with cardiovascular activity. "We do 30–60 minutes of cardiovascular training, like running, rowing or swimming; anything other than just dancing," she says. She particularly likes fusion Pilates with cardio blasts, a style that periodically raises the heart rate at intervals throughout the class.

Consistency will help students maintain their bodies throughout slow periods, like summer. Both of Lorenzo's troupes do four to six days of cross-training per week during off-season. Alternating days with strength training and cardiovascular workouts or balancing both activities in one day will help maintain energy and muscle tone. Hoover suggests fast walking; it doesn't require weights and is easy on the joints.

"Company members who get to the top are the ones who keep themselves in shape," says Hoover. "The same thing goes for students. They just can't take that month off in August."

The Conversation
Getty Images

It's February! The month of love (and by extension, the month of pink) is upon us. We are major fans of a good class theme, and dressing lovey-dovey is one of our very favorites! So this month, to keep you on brand, we have a list of our favorite pink leos on the market right now. They're all kinds of wonderful.

Check them out and let us know your favorite in the comments!

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Getty Images

It's the day after Valentine's Day, and every single one of us is in a chocolate coma scrolling through endless love posts on social media. It's both the best and the worst day of the year 😂. Obnoxiously mushy Instagram captions aside, whether you have a significant other or not, we all know that your studio co-workers are the actual loves of your life.

Check out our five reasons why, and let us know over in our comments if we got 'em right!

XOXO

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Thinkstock

Q: Do you have any advice for dividing students into groups?

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Chris Hardy Photography

In Antoine Hunter's jazz class, students inevitably pick up sign language just by virtue of being his student. Though he doesn't typically incorporate ASL into his class combos, this dynamic phrase, which is one of his favorites, includes four signs: "heart," " re," "gone" and "deaf."

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
The Big Apple Tap Fest, courtesy of Dee

Debbi Dee took her first tap class at age 5 from vaudevillian hoofer and rhythm tapper Curly Fisher, in Rochester, New York. She studied tirelessly with him in the garage he had turned into a small, makeshift dance studio until she was 13 years old, when he claimed he had taken her as far as he could, and she needed to find herself a new teacher. Instead, she jumped feet first into her professional career, tapping with the Lawrence Welk and Count Basie orchestras on the traveling state fair circuit, on the Bob Hope USO shows, and in nightclubs in Vegas and the Catskills.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Thinkstock

We've all had times when we've failed miserably while trying our best to communicate important concepts and ideas to our students. We are all well-meaning with hopes that our dancers will achieve their dreams and become kind humans along the way. Unfortunately, our delivery may need some honing in order to help them without causing some damage,

Here are four common phrases dance teachers often say, and four ways we can adjust them to make them constructive and productive.

Let us know over on our Facebook page what phrases you try to avoid as a dance teacher!

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Courtesy Harlequin Floors

Just like your car, your studio needs periodic tune-ups to keep it humming along smoothly. If you take the time to address a few small fixes, your business will stand out. And you don't have to break the bank, either—you might be surprised how low-cost, DIY improvements can make a surprising difference.

Keep reading... Show less
Unsplash

Running a studio can be a major juggling act. It's no surprise, then, that a few things slip through the cracks—costing you money or students. Watch out for two common but often unnoticed mistakes, and you'll find yourself with more time, clients and revenue on your hands.

1. Using online registration as a crutch

If you offer registration via your studio website, make sure you aren't losing clients by neglecting in-person registration. One day Kathy Morrow, director of Dance Du Coeur in Sugar Land,Texas, overheard a front desk staffer directing a new client to the studio's website to register, rather than offering to do it over the phone. "I thought, You had a fish on the hook—why didn't you walk them through it?" she says. "When you register, there are a lot of boxes to check off. Some people want to pay with a check, some to link to a credit card. We can make it easier by answering any questions directly."

2. Not delegating

Have you heard yourself say, once too often, "If I want it done right, I have to do it myself"? Overextending yourself because of perfectionism or a misguided need to control can be counterproductive. By creating choreography, teaching, bookkeeping, cleaning, making phone calls, typesetting, doing payroll, mailings and ordering, you could be leaving no time for the very things that will create your best business. Misty Lown decided to delegate all the teaching at her Onalaska, Wisconsin-based studio, Misty's Dance Unlimited. "Giving up teaching was super-hard," she says, "but it's the best decision I ever made. Whenever I was teaching, it meant I never saw the other five classrooms that were operating during that time. Now I can rotate my time checking on classrooms and interacting with students."

Dance Teacher Tips
Getty Images

Working with a 9-year-old student, Alexandra Koltun asks the young girl to face the barre. She reviews fifth position, demi-pointe with the front foot and coupé devant. "I separate all the positions, so the student understands each one," says Koltun, founder and artistic director of Koltun Ballet Boston. She reaches down to shape the girl's foot into sur le cou-de-pied, leaving the heel in front and gently squeezing the toes around the ankle. "This position will equip the foot with more strength," she says.

Depending on a ballet teacher's preference and style of training, sur le cou-de-pied (meaning "on the neck of the foot") may be incorporated into class at different times and in various ways. From steps like pas de cheval to frappé and développé, the wrapped position can be fundamental to a student's technical development. Or it can be used less often and as a supplement to cou-de-pied front and back. Either way, the value of the position remains constant as a tool to mold and strengthen dancers' feet.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun

Show your significant other how much you love them through dance! Send them one of your favorite romantic dance videos that best describes your feelings, and they're sure to swoon!

Here are four of our favorites that depict a range of emotions along the spectrum of true love. Let us know over on our Facebook page which one best represents your relationship!

You're welcome in advance!

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun

The best way to celebrate a holiday in the dance teacher world is to create a class combo that fits the theme! It's a sure-fire way to get you and your kiddos into the spirit of the day! So, Valentine's Day, we recommend some mushy, cheesy, oh-so-wonderful love songs!

Check out these six songs for potential class combo ideas. They're sure to be a hit.

You're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Unsplash

When it comes to running a thriving dance studio, Cindy Clough knows what she's talking about. As executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner for more than four decades, she's all too aware of the unique challenges the job presents, from teaching to scheduling to managing employees and clients.

Here, Clough shares her best advice for new studio owners, and the answers to some common questions that come up when you're getting started.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox