Dance Teacher editors stand with the 2016 Dance Teacher Award winners at the Capezio A.C.E. Awards. From left to right: Rachel Caldwell, Rachel Rizzuto, Helen Rolfe, Joanne Chapman, Claudio Muñoz, Robert Battle, Karen Hildebrand, Kathleen Isaac and Pamela VanGilder

What a whirlwind weekend! It was my first-ever Dance Teacher Summit, and it was awesome! Throughout the weekend’s classes, seminars, workshops, Capezio A.C.E. Awards and the Closing Summit panel discussion, teachers from far and wide shared their wisdom and passion for teaching dance. Here are five things I learned at the Summit:

1.     Studio owners are superheroes. At the studio owners' session on Thursday, studio owners from across the country discussed the challenges they face. My takeaway? These women and men are amazing. Not only do they run a business, teach class, choreograph and manage staff, they deal with problematic parents, fundraising, the repercussions of a constantly changing economy, being a mentor to students and adapting their businesses to the digital age. And that’s not even half of it! I tip my hat to you, studio owners. You are superheroes.

2.     Dance really is for every child. Since seeing the documentary P.S. Dance! last year, I have thought a lot about its prevailing message, “Dance for every child.” I felt that concept very deeply when I attended a workshop titled “Special Needs Students,” led by Rhythm Works Integrative Dance teacher Tricia Gomez. She gave a rundown of sensory issues experienced by students with special needs and showed how different types of cuing (visual, auditory and tactile) can help those students dance. It was fascinating and inspiring!

Talent and innovation were abundant at the Capezio A.C.E. Awards! Among the winners were 2nd runner ups Mark Osborn and Justin Myles for their tap number, Long Train Running.

3.     The competition scene is immense (and intense!). At both the competition/convention panel discussion and Joanne Chapman and Nancy Giles’ seminar, “Competition Teams: Keeping it Smooth,” I was blown away by just how much the comp scene has expanded since I was a studio dancer. Representatives from 15 dance competitions were present at the Summit to field questions. Meanwhile Chapman and Giles shared how they run their award-winning comp teams. One key to their success? Hold every dancer on the team to the same high standards.

4.     Stay positive and good things will come your way. At Kim Delgrosso’s seminar, “Fill Your Cup,” she shared how maintaining a positive attitude and being grateful can impact your life. It’s worked well for her—the mother of 8 and grandmother of 22 has run a successful studio in Orem, Utah, for more than 30 years. From taking the time to connect with the people around you to participating in nondance activities, she had great suggestions for staying grounded and humble in this often chaotic industry.

5.     The future of dance education looks bright. The Closing Summit panel discussion last night was truly uplifting. Summit ambassadors Denise Wall, Joanne Chapman, Kim Delgrosso, Sue Sampson-Dalena, Dance Teacher editor-in-chief Karen Hildebrand and faculty member Deborah Wingert talked with teachers about the future of dance education. More job opportunities for dancers, an increased emphasis on health and self-care and more innovation in the choreographic realm than we know what to do with are all indicators of a bright future for today’s young dancers.

From left to right: Denise Wall, Kim Delgrosso, Sue Sampson-Dalena, Joanne Chapman, Karen Hildebrand and Deborah Wingert

Photos (from top): by Rachel Papo (2); by Helen Rolfe

Don’t miss a single issue of Dance Teacher.

In our February issue, we share 6 resumé do's and don’ts to help you land your next teaching gig.

DO: Tweak for Each Job 

Job postings are like snowflakes—they’re each unique. Thoroughly read the job description and alter your cover letter to explain why you are the teacher they’re looking for. This can be time-consuming, but it shows you’re paying attention to the details.

DON’T: List Every Job You’ve Ever Had

“Guest teachers continue to help my business evolve and stay current in the dance world,” says Sue Sampson-Dalena, owner of The Dance Studio of Fresno. Show the studio owner you’re on top of the latest trends by keeping your job history relevant. It’s OK if your resumé is longer than one page, but it shouldn’t be a novel. If your teaching experience is as extensive as your choreography credits, consider creating two resumés. Also, include a link to your LinkedIn profile (a great marketing tool), where you can add more detailed information about your experience.

For more resumé do's and don’ts and to learn about opportunities for continuing education, check out our 2016 Teacher Training Guide by subscribing to Dance Teacher.

Photo: Thinkstock

Seen & Heard At the Dance Teacher Summit

Sampson-Dalena (back row center) and students at the 2013 Dance Awards

Sue Sampson-Dalena

Owner, The Dance Studio of Fresno

Fresno, CA

1,000 students

A studio owner for 32 years, Sue Sampson-Dalena has seen her students go on to dance at conservatories, compete on “So You Think You Can Dance,” start their own companies and perhaps most rewarding, become teachers themselves. 2013 marked her second year as an ambassador at the DT Summit. Here, she shares what she’s learned from the experience.

Dance Teacher: Did you get any great ideas from the Summit that you have put into practice in your studio?

Sue Sampson-Dalena: My first year at the Summit, I got an idea from [fellow ambassador] Robin Dawn Ryan. One of her biggest fundraising success stories is her recital program. She does a recital yearbook, which makes her quite a bit of money and helps subsidize her shows. I followed her template and was very successful with that. [Editor’s note: Stay tuned for more about this in an upcoming issue of DT.]

Also, Anthony Morigerato is the most brilliant tap teacher on the planet. He has a tap barre he’s introducing that I’d like to try. And I’ve taken Debbi Dee’s wonderful tap class with her 400-plus time steps that she teaches. I have taught about 20 different time steps from her so far.

DT: What was the most surprising thing you learned about other studio owners at the 2013 Summit?

SS: A lot of studios do not have a curriculum. They don’t have a syllabus for every level and style of dance that they offer. I don’t understand how you can gauge whether or not a child is ready to progress to the next level if you don’t have it standardized.

DT: What was the most common question studio owners asked you?

SS: People asked a lot about the app I developed for my studio. It has my schedule of classes, holidays, recital photos, my dance team members’ profiles with little pictures—it’s really cute. It also shows news and events, and I use it to send out reminders, like when guest teachers will be here.

Customers can download it for free, and it’s become a great communication tool for me. I developed it through the company Creative Solutions (trycreativesolutions.com), and it cost about $4,500 from start to finish. I believe it’s a great deal cheaper to just go online and do the process yourself, but I am not a computer person. It’s worth it to me to pay someone to do the work. —Andrea Marks

Photo courtesy of Sue Sampson-Dalena

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