If you're looking to find new teaching jobs or just expand your reach as a teacher, look no further than your Instagram account. Developing a digital voice that connects with studios and dancers is an easy (and cost-free) strategy to boost your profile.

"Instagram has definitely shined a spotlight on my gifts as a teacher," says Kelby Brown, who's taught for American Ballet Theatre and at conventions like The PULSE.

"I have had many inquiries about teaching master classes or being asked to be on faculty at different schools. It has also kept dance competitions in the know and reminds them to bring me out as a judge and educator."


Here, Brown offers his insights to make your Insta account start working for you.

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Teaching Tips

Showing up day after day to the ballet barre can feel monotonous, at times, tedious. Ohhh, le sigh. But as teachers and students know, daily practice is essential to maintaining strength and technique.

Before you hit class today, take a quick inspiration Insta video break to regain a fresh perspective.

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News

There's no such thing as too much inspiration, right? Right! Here are some inspiring posts to keep your motivation for the year ahead high, flexible and balanced, or whatever your New Year's goals may be.

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We’re counting down to January 1st with great ideas for your studio and teaching practice in the new year. Check back each day for a new tip!

Well-placed turns enhance choreography and dazzle the audience. When teaching pirouettes, Kathryn Warakomsky has her Texas Ballet Theater School students watch videos of legendary ballerinas Maya Plisetskaya, Alicia Alonso and Galina Ulanova. “They spun like tops,” says Warakomsky, the Fort Worth school’s principal. “The public wants to see that excitement.”

It's All About That Prep ('Bout That Prep, 'Bout That Prep, No Trouble) 

A pirouette en dehors from fourth position typically starts with a plié, with more weight over the front foot (see photo 1). “This style is very RAD,” says Warakomsky, “where everything comes from a good soft plié that sets you up for your balance. You use the plié to push from both legs, so it’s a movement and not a static position.” She encourages students to keep their heels down and use the whole foot on the floor, rather than rolling forward on the arches or letting the front foot slide into the turn first: “You want to go down into the floor and push from the back foot to go up.”

 

Balanchine changed the traditional preparation by having dancers take a wide lunge in fourth position with a straight back knee and outstretched arms (see photo 2). “He wanted it to be a surprise—he disguised the preparation so the audience wasn’t sitting there waiting for you to do a pirouette,” says Gloria Govrin, artistic director of Eastern Connecticut Ballet. When using this deep, elongated preparation, dancers should keep their weight far over the front foot and use their back toes to push into passé.

 

Get yourself a Dance Teacher subscription to start off 2017 right!

Photos by Bridget Lujan, courtesy of Juneau Dance Theatre 

A former American Ballet Theatre soloist and New York City Ballet principal, Charles Askegard co-founded Ballet Next with former ABT principal Michele Wiles upon his retirement in 2011. He has been a guest faculty member at the School of American Ballet and has taught company class for NYCB and Armitage Gone! Dance. Askegard joined Ballet Academy East's faculty full-time in fall 2012. Click here for the full Technique article.

How I teach pas de deux

Charles Askegard coaching Ballet Academy East students Marisa Trapani and Alexandros Pappajohn

The hall cutting through Ballet Academy East on a late Thursday afternoon is hectic. Students sprawl out in straddles, hovering over math homework, and parents peek through the windows to get a good look at their tots. But the air inside the advanced ballet class in studio five is calm, as is Charles Askegard’s demeanor. He is subtle, yet assured, a quality that carried his dancing during his years as a principal with the New York City Ballet.

Clarity of technique is Askegard’s priority at BAE, where he began teaching last fall, and it’s reflected in his to-the-point approach. “See this tendu? When you’re not so turned out here, you can get by. But when you bring it up here,” he says, lifting a student’s leg in a high à la seconde, “well, that’s not nice to look at.” Combinations throughout the level 8/9 class are short and square, and he’s extremely particular about hip alignment and how the soles and toes of the feet lie on the floor. “There’s so much you want to accomplish in your technique at the pre-professional age, but how much and how fast can students actually learn?” he asks. “I’m not saying to dumb it down, but succinct combinations let dancers really work on their technique. And it’s really important in building their confidence.”

Helping students break down their technique, says Askegard, has sparked curiosity in his own. “I’ve talked to others, and they all say, ‘When I started teaching, my technique got so much better than when I was dancing,’ because you have to be committed to doing it the right way to teach others,” he says. “Teaching is a new adventure, and I’m learning a lot.”

Askegard’s goal is to codify a class syllabus for pas de deux—a skill often praised by critics, as well as his own partners, during his performance career—for both himself and BAE. “Often when students start partnering, the girl is just thrown at the guy, and it’s like ‘OK, go.’ And that’s because many schools don’t have the ability to make a full partnering class viable. But it results in a deer-in-headlights level of fear. Try to squeeze 10–15 minutes into pointe class for some pirouettes and promenades,” he says. “When I was a student, I was the only guy to partner with. And I learned a lot about partnering when I was forced to dance with a girl a foot taller than me.”

Here, Askegard guides BAE students Marisa Trapani and Alexandros Pappajohn through partnered pirouettes:

Charles Askegard began studying ballet at Minnesota Dance Theatre and School (now The Dance Institute) under the direction of Loyce Houlton. At 16, he moved to New York City, where he trained with Maggie Black. He joined American Ballet Theatre in 1987 and became a soloist before leaving to dance with the New York City Ballet, where he remained for 14 years. As a principal there, he originated roles in ballets by Christopher Wheeldon and Peter Martins. Upon his retirement in 2011, Askegard co-founded Ballet Next, a project-based ballet troupe, with former ABT principal Michele Wiles. He has been a guest faculty member at the School of American Ballet and has taught company class for NYCB and Armitage Gone! Dance. Askegard joined BAE’s faculty full-time in fall 2012.

Marisa Trapani and Alexandros Pappajohn, both 15, are students in Ballet Academy East’s Pre-Professional Division.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

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