Trending

Sultry Jazz Teacher Sabrina Phillip Keeps Her Students Strong With These Warm-Up Tips

"Push yourself to your extremes and see how far you can go. I don't expect you to be perfect, but I expect you to try," says Phillip. Photo by Chehon Wespi Tschopp

Anyone planning to take a contemporary jazz class from Sabrina Phillip at Edge Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles better be ready to sweat—pushing physical limits is this teacher's specialty. "I want dancers in my class to work really hard," says Phillip. "I want them to be inspired to push their boundaries and become well-rounded students so that they can have long careers."


The classically trained bunhead turned sultry jazz goddess begins class with a heat-generating warm-up that incorporates movements like reaching, lunging and yoga. From there, the energy never drops. She directs stretches and exercises on the entire right half of the body before shifting to the left side to increase difficulty. "It's like doing leg day at the gym," says Phillip. "You don't give the sides of your body a break in between stretches. It feels overwhelming, but it gets you stronger." After the fatigue has set in, she further challenges her students by guiding them through développé, plié and balance exercises. Her 30- to 35-minute warm-up often finishes with a difficult core exercise series, like planks or V-sits.

The intensity of this warm-up prepares Phillip's dancers for the combination that is sure to have avant-garde inversions, turns and challenging transitions. "I really like exploring different pathways in my choreography," Phillip says. "I always try to avoid the expected transition and find something more interesting—even if it's much harder." The best part? Phillip participates in every difficult moment of class from start to finish, so whenever her dancers are tempted to stop, she boldly reminds them, "If I can do this, so can you!"

FOOD SHE CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT: "Cheese! All the cheese…"

FAVORITE BOOK FOR ARTISTIC INSPIRATION: "I really liked Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell, because it talks about the 10,000-hour rule and how it is the key to success in any field. I really believe in that."

RECOMMENDED VIEWING FOR DANCERS: "I think it's important to know the greats who came before us. I would definitely recommend watching old Hollywood musicals like West Side Story, Sweet Charity (really anything Fosse), Annie, Guys and Dolls and Singin' in the Rain."

HOW SHE STAYS IN SHAPE: "Working on my choreography often is a great workout, and I take my own class. I also love yoga and going to the gym."

MUST-HAVE FITNESS SUPPLIES: "Good running shoes, a foam roller or balls of varying densities for rolling out the kinks after class."

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.

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.