Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Rachel Papo

As every educator knows, it's just as important to keep up with your teaching craft as it is for your students to keep up with their dancing. The best way to do that? Teacher-training workshops. Get away for a couple of days to interact with your peers in the industry. You'll not only learn new ideas for teaching technique and movement, but you'll discover new communication strategies, business ideas and ways to manage changes in the industry. You'll return to your studio with a wealth of knowledge to share with your students.

We've compiled a list of three teacher-training opportunities happening later this year that you should have on your radar.

You're welcome!

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Kerollis and students in his eight-week Absolute Beginner Workshop at Broadway Dance Center

When most people think of dance students, they imagine lithe children and teenagers waltzing around classrooms with their legs lifted to their ears. It doesn't often cross our minds that dance training can involve an older woman trying to build strength in her body to ward off balance issues, or a middle-aged man who didn't have the confidence to take a dance class as a boy for fear of bullying.

Anybody can begin to learn dance at any age. But it takes a particular type of teacher to share our art form with dancers who have few prospects beyond fun and fitness a few nights a week.

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When New York City–based dancer Dan Lai began choreographing Figure 8, he had a specific vision in mind. Inspired by a song by FKA Twigs, he wanted the movement to represent the music's "dark and twisted vibe." "My thought process was to make shapes and phrases that were abstract and unique that complimented the intricate beats of the music," he says.

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Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Jeremy Davis, courtesy of Blackstone

Al Blackstone only recently found his true stride in the dance world. Growing up taking class at his parents' studio and going to competitions, he loved nothing more than performing. But now, whether he's teaching a room full of professional-level dancers in New York City, a group of kids at a convention or at the Dance Teacher Summit, his true passion is sharing his process of creating and clever choreography with students and other teachers around the country.

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Sudeikis (right) with dancer Alex Liszewski. Photo by Kyle Froman Photography

Contemporary teacher Kristin Sudeikis likes to give each step context within a phrase, so that there's always a beginning, middle and end. For instance, in this lesson, she bookends the rond de jambe sauté with a place of initiation—the parallel attitude and chaîné turn—and a finish: detailed, delicate placement of the hands. For a beginner version of the rond de jambe, don't take it into the air. Keep the left leg on the floor.

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The Boston Conservatory announces its first-ever full-time hip-hop faculty member. Duane Lee Holland Jr. currently serves as visiting assistant professor at his alma mater University of Iowa. He joins Boston Conservatory’s dance division this fall, to teach the primarily classically trained conservatory students full-time and offer electives to students of Berklee College of Music (which Boston Conservatory merged with this year).

Holland danced with Rennie Harris Puremovement, where he later served as assistant artistic director. He has also taught at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Broadway Dance Center and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and he served as assistant choreographer for Maurice Hines’ Broadway show Hot Feet.

Photo by Ben Viatori, courtesy of Holland

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For dancing in heels, Quigley (right) prefers high boots.

Teachers share the philosophies and materials that make them successful in their careers and classes.

You’d think a “Stiletto Heels” class would be excruciatingly painful. Surely spending an hour or more in a pair of sky-high heels, performing Beyoncé-esque choreography full-out can’t feel good. And yet, New York City–based instructor Shirlene Quigley says her classes are all about comfort.

Quigley, who has danced for Beyoncé, Rihanna, Missy Elliott and Chris Brown, wants her students at Broadway Dance Center and Peridance—mostly females 16 or older—to feel good physically and emotionally during her classes. That means not just finding shoes that will help them dance their best (Quigley recommends tight, thigh-high boots for ankle support and stability), but also creating a classroom environment where the dancers aren’t worried about performing overly sexual or suggestive choreography just because they’re dancing in high heels.

Quigley telling students they are “all created for greatness”

“We start class with a warm-up filled with core strength, leg exercises and stretching,” says Quigley. “Then we circle up for a quick chat to bring unity into the room and to create a safe environment for people to grow and take risks.” From there, she leads the students in across-the-floor drills, followed by a combination in her girly, feminine style. “At the end, everyone performs the routine in small groups while we cheer each other on,” she says. “My rule in class is to treat each other with kindness, love and respect at all times. Dancing in heels is scary, but it’s such a mental thing, like, ‘You want me to do what?!’ Women can give birth, but it’s scary to dance in a high heel. I want to help my students be less scared.” DT

What she wears to teach: “I always dress the part. If I’m going for a more hip-hop street stiletto vibe, I’ll wear leggings with a flannel shirt tied around my waist and a loose crop top. If I’m teaching a combo that’s more about precise lines and movements, I’ll go for something tight and black so the students can see my body.”

High heels of choice: For her preferred thigh-high boots, Quigley isn’t picky about brand or style as long as she can move in them. She says she likes to visit DSW or Payless and dance around in them to see what she likes best.

Her ideal day off: “I either want to spend an entire day taking classes, or the opposite: a day of watching movies in bed with my journal or being pampered, then heading to the park with a good book.”

What she never leaves home without: heels, water, body spray and lip gloss.

What she wants her students to watch: “I always suggest studying the greats—Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson and Tina Turner—to learn from the true stars who paved the way for dance.”

Class photos courtesy of Quigley (2); boot and book: Thinkstock

Don't miss a single issue of Dance Teacher.

Derek Mitchell is on street jazz and contemporary faculty at Broadway Dance Center, where he grew up training under legends Frank Hatchett and Sheila Barker. Here, he teaches a street jazz pivot turn combination focusing on the importance of foot placement and spinal movement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Kyle Froman

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