Dance Teacher Tips
Risa Steinberg (center); photo by Alexandra Fung, courtesy of In the Lights PR

In an adult ballet class, Kimberly Chandler Vaccaro noticed a woman working so hard that her shoulders were near her ears. "I was going to say something about her tension, but I didn't want her awareness to go there," says Vaccaro, who teaches at Princeton Ballet School. Instead, she told the dancer to remember that breathing muscles are low, below her sternum. "Then we talked about moving from the shoulder blades first, and how they're halfway down your back. She started this lovely sequential movement, and it eventually solved the problem."

Drawing attention to symptoms, such as tense shoulders, might create more issues for a dancer if the cause of the problem remains unaddressed. Simply saying "shoulders down" might compromise alignment as the dancer tries to show a longer neck or forgets to breathe, jeopardizing movement quality. Teachers can be strategic and communicate information in a way that doesn't aggravate the situation. "Dance will never be easy," says master teacher Risa Steinberg, "but it can be easier if you're not folding new problems on top of old ones."

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Dance Teacher Tips
With her advanced dancers, Andrea Paris-Gutierrez allows 20 to 30 minutes of class for jumping, post-barre. Photo by Iker Gutierrez, courtesy of Los Angeles Ballet Academy

Ensuring that the timing of a 90-minute class delivers the best results can be struggle. Here, two teachers discuss the importance of leaving enough time to maximize your dancers' strength.

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Kat Wildish has danced with New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. Here, she leads an adult pointe class at The Ailey Extension. Photo by Kyle Froman, courtesy of Kat Wildish

Watch Kat Wildish's adult class in New York City, and you'll see all kinds of people living their dream of dancing on pointe. Perhaps some of them stopped dancing as children before they got their shoes, or they lament quitting ballet to pursue another career. And for some people who've never danced, being on pointe is at the top of their bucket list. Adult students of all types are a growing population, and more and more of them are expressing interest in pointe.

Mature dancers, however, require different considerations—both emotionally and physically—from their pre-teen counterparts, especially when developing skills and strength for pointe. By taking note of their unique needs, you can tailor pointe classes that will help them safely achieve their goals.

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