How Talya Dozois Gets Her Students Comfortable With Tricky Transitions

"I've found that across-the-floor shows dancers how to use their skills in choreography," says Dozois. Photo courtesy of Platinum Dance Center

At Platinum Dance Center in Edina, Minnesota, Talya Dozois runs the competitive dance program like clockwork: organizing the team's attendance at a minimum of four regional competitions every year, choreographing 10 to 12 solos and six group routines, bringing in guest choreographers and coaching dancers one-on-one. Her role as competition artistic director is a full-time job, yet Dozois keeps teaching a priority through her two weekly jazz technique classes for preteens and teens. "They are really rewarding classes for me," she says. "It is so nice to see where they started to where they are now."

Warm-up isn't just for getting warm, it's a time to start thinking about technique. "Warm-up is technique," she reminds her students. "It's when you really learn how to feel your straight knees, stretched feet and strong arms. It's when you find those lines and learn to really move through them." She keeps the dancers moving through the 25-minute warm-up to build their stamina and strength. Since many of her students compete at extra competitions and conventions throughout the year, Dozois wants to help prepare them physically and mentally for those additional challenges.

When it's time to go across the floor, Dozois can quickly tell which dancers are comfortable with transitions. "I've found that across-the-floor shows dancers how to use their skills in choreography. Sometimes a dancer can do a triple pirouette in center and it's perfect, but then I give them movement before and after the pirouette and they struggle," she says. "So I always make across-the-floor a really important time of class."

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