Please Release Me

Healthy knees benefit from well-toned supporting muscles. A tight iliotibial (IT) band or quadriceps will pull excessively on the knee, says Houston-based physical therapist and former dancer Jennifer Romanek. Here are two foam-roller exercises she recommends to release tight muscles:

IT Band Roll
1. Flip over onto your side and place the foam roller underneath the outside of your thigh (iliotibial band). Keep the bottom leg straight, bend your top leg with the foot flat on the floor and support the upper body with your hands. Keep abdominal muscles engaged for back support.
2. Slowly roll up and down your IT band, from your knee to your hip.
3. Roll your body forward and back to get all sides of the IT band.

Quad Roll
1. Face the floor and place the roller underneath the front of your thighs; support the upper body with your forearms. Pull in your abdominal muscles, while keeping the back straight and supported.
2. Roll up and down the front of your thighs, or quadriceps, going all the way down to your knee and up to the hips.
3. Repeat with legs straight, legs turned out and then with legs turned in.
(Tip: For best results, complete both exercises three times a day. But remember to stay on the soft muscle during each exercise; do not roll over bones, including the kneecap, and go very slowly to iron out muscle and fascia.)

Teachers Trending
Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy. Photo courtesy Dance With Me

Listening to Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy riff together makes it crystal-clear why each has mastered the art of partnering in the ballroom—they've long been doing this dance in real life as brothers and business partners.

Along with their "Dancing with the Stars" pedigree (and a combined three mirror-ball trophies between them), Maks and Val (and their father, Sasha) also run Dance With Me, a dance company hosting six ProAm Dancesport competitions annually and running 14 brick-and-mortar studio locations across the U.S.

Last year, the pair launched an online component, Dance & Co. The online video platform offers beginner through advanced instruction in not only ballroom but an array of other styles, as well as dance fitness classes from HIIT to yoga to strength training. "DWTS" fans will recognize such familiar faces as Peta Murgatroyd, Jenna Johnson, Sharna Burgess and Emma Slater, along with Maks and Val themselves.

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Teaching Tips
@jayplayimagery, courtesy Kerollis

In the spring of 2012, Barry Kerollis was abruptly forced into treating his career as a small business. Having just moved cross-country to join BalletX, he got injured and was soon let go.

"I'd only ever danced with big companies before," the now-freelance dance-teacher-choreographer-podcaster recalls. "That desperation factor drove me to approach freelancing with a business model and a business plan."

As Kerollis acknowledges, getting the business of you off the ground ("you" as a freelance dance educator, that is) can be filled with unexpected challenges—even for the most seasoned of gigging dancers. But becoming your own CEO can make your work–life balance more sustainable, help you make more money, keep you organized, and get potential employers to offer you more respect and improved working conditions. Here's how to get smart now about branding, finances and other crucial ways to tell the dance world that you mean business.

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Teachers Trending
Courtesy Oleson

American dance educator Shannon Oleson was teaching recreational ballet and street-dance classes in London when the pandemic hit. As she watched many of her fellow U.S. friends pack up and return home from their international adventures, she made the difficult choice to stick with her students (as well as her own training—she was midway through her MFA at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance).

Despite shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders, she was able to maintain a teaching schedule that kept her working with her dancers through Zoom, as well as lead some private, in-home acro classes following government guidelines. But keeping rec students interested in the face of pandemic fatigue hasn't been easy.

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