To a certain subset of the New York City dance community, Gail Accardi is known as the Body Whisperer. For her part, Accardi calls her work "creative physical problem solving." Whether she's leading her Anatomy Awareness class for dancers, substitute-teaching Simonson Technique, or working with a private client one-on-one, Accardi has a clear vision: "I want people to gain insight into and learn to celebrate their individual structures," she says. "When I was young, a teacher referred to my weak arches as a horrible defect! I never want a student to experience that. When it comes to anatomical variations, this is who you are, so let's figure out how to work with it."
During seated stretches, I encourage my students to sit straight on their sits bones and then fold forward at the hips—even if they don't go forward very far. One student tells me that if she sits as I instruct, she can't reach forward at all. Why?
"When we come together and start talking, everyone starts sharing so much and it's just great. That's my favorite thing to do all year long." —Denise Wall, Dance Teacher Summit Ambassador
For years the Dance Teacher Summit has been offering opportunities for studio owners and dance instructors of all levels to work with world-renowned faculty members to improve their teaching methods, learn new styles of choreography and discover ideal ways to convey choreography to students.
My daughter's ballet teachers have been telling her to straighten her legs more—particularly in arabesque—but she swears they're as straight as she can make them. Do you know how we can help this?
Seems impossible to imagine summer from within frigid January, but it is indeed time to begin making plans—whether competition nationals, teacher training or preparing for your own in-house summer program. The 2012 Dance Teacher Summer Study Guide (page 60) is full of options for teachers as well as students. Whether you’re helping your advanced dancers find the right intensive, or looking for the best continuing ed opportunity for yourself, you’ll find everything you need. And to be sure you’re making the most of summertime in your own studio, DT spoke to three studio directors (“Business,” page 56) about how you can bolster your recreational programs—and your bottom line.
When DT visited the San Francisco Ballet School last October, I wondered if all the greenery visible through the floor-to-ceiling windows you see on the cover could be a little distracting for students. But not to worry. During Tina LeBlanc’s Level 8 ballet class, the concentration of the dancers was palpable. A small thing like bright sunlight didn’t stand a chance next to the force field generated by their teacher.
LeBlanc is a sunny, smiling presence, but make no mistake: She’s all focus and intention. Last summer she not only taught in a summer study program but also attended Marcia Dale Weary’s teacher training at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet to sharpen her own skills. To learn why, turn to Mary Ellen Hunt’s profile, “When One Size Does Not Fit All” (page 24).
One of the most popular and talked about sessions of the Dance Teacher Summit last July was an appearance by the legendary jazz teacher Luigi. This month in “Technique” (page 33), Francis Roach demonstrates a basic Luigi jazz lesson that can strengthen your students’ technique, regardless of genre.
Are you a smoker? You undoubtedly understand the health risk you’re taking, but have you considered that you might unintentionally be sending your students the wrong message? In “Trashing the Ash” (page 42), we discredit the reasons dancers take up the habit and tell how you can support them in quitting.
There’s a great deal more in our pages this month to inspire you, as you turn the calendar page to a new and, we hope, brilliant year.
editor in chief