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Teachers Share Their Go-to Daily Tools for Success–Part 2

Talya Dozois is the competition artistic director at Platinum Dance Center. Photo courtesy of Platinum Dance Center

Being a dance teacher can be difficult. To be the best teacher for your students, it's important to maintain the best version of yourself. From workout regiments to favorite snacks and books, three teachers reveal what motivates them to be on top of their game.


Istvan Cserven, Director of Dance at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Belmont, Massachusetts

Photo courtesy of Fred Astaire Dance Studio

FAVORITE FOOTWEAR: For teaching: Supadance Black Patent shoes; for competitions: Dance Naturals for Latin and rhythm dances.

TRAINING TOOLS: Thera-Band for experiencing resistance, sticks to practice the dance hold and hardcover books on top of the head for practicing posture and alignment.

POWER BREAKFAST: "I have a green drink every morning, which includes celery, cucumber, spinach, kale, collard greens and avocado blended together."

RECOMMENDED READING: The Revised Technique of Ballroom Dancing, by Alex Moore, and its later revisions by ISTD (Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing). "This is the dance bible for competitive ballroom dancing."

WATCH THIS: Anne Gleave's Portrait of the Lady Dancer instructional DVD.



Talya Dozois, competition artistic director at Platinum Dance Center in Edina, Minnesota

Photo courtesy of Platinum Dance Center

MUST-HAVE FITNESS SUPPLIES: A tennis ball to roll out her arches, a foam roller for sore or tight muscles and light weights for building arm strength.

TRAINING TOOL: A BOSU Balance Trainer. "It's amazing to see that even dancers who have strong centers often need extra help once they're on it."

TO CROSS-TRAIN: Pilates and spin classes

RECOMMENDED READING: Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life. "I have found it helpful in both my work and personal life. It's a good reminder that creating something takes constant work."


WATCH THIS: The KBMTalent YouTube channel. "The videos break down new tricks to introduce to dancers."


Susan Russo, The Theresa Academy of Performing Arts in Long Beach, New York

Russo leads a class through Anne Green Gilbert's BrainDance. Photo by Diane Modico, courtesy of the Theresa Academy

TO WARM UP: "I warm up with Anne Green Gilbert's BrainDance. I find that it is just as suitable for my 63-year-old body as it is for the bodies and brains of my young, pliable students."


MUST-HAVE FITNESS SUPPLIES: A Pilates toning ring and a deep-tissue massage roller. "I use these items to keep my alignment where it should be, stretch my hamstrings and roll out kinks in my back and hips."

IN-CLASS PROPS: "Many of our students have tactile/sensory issues, so we use many props to aid in addressing those issues." Space spots, scarves of all sizes and colors, elastic bands, ribbons, drums, maracas, bells, hula hoops, balls, cones and parachutes.

FAVORITE NONDANCE ACTIVITY: "To me, quilting is choreographing with fabric. I really enjoy working with beautiful fabrics."

INSPIRATIONAL READING: Creative Dance for All Ages, by Anne Green Gilbert; Doris Humphrey's The Art of Making Dances; and A Life for Dance, by Rudolf von Laban.

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When dance teacher Tiffany Taylor decided it was time to go back to her job after having her baby, 14-month-old Skyler, she knew she needed to find a way to bring her little one to work with her. At Maria Priadka School of Dance in South Orange, New Jersey, where she teaches, students can't begin taking lessons until they are 2 1/2 years old, so putting Skyler in class while she taught was out of the question. To solve the problem, she decided it was time to create a dance class that both caregivers and babies (from 6 months to 2 years old) could enjoy. Shortly after, Boogie Woogie Babies was born.

During a Boogie Woogie Babies class, moms, dads, nannies and caregivers have the opportunity to bust a move while carrying their snuggly babe on their hip. Taylor says classes are generally based in hip hop and always incorporate fun and lively music for everyone to enjoy.

"We start class sitting in a circle, where we sing songs," Taylor says. "We use scarves and other props while playing games like Ring Around the Rosie to get our bodies moving. Then, everyone will get up and either hold their babies or let them run free if they want to, while I teach the choreography, which is built around their kids. We do a new routine every week with different songs and formations to keep things fun for the 45 minutes I have them in class."

While Taylor teaches Boogie Woogie Babies at Maria Priadka School of Dance every Sunday, she's also traveling to different locations around New Jersey to expand her classes into an entire movement that everyone can experience. "Everyone really enjoys these classes," she says. "We recently had one where 40 students showed up to a class at a local library. The kids were jumping around and loving it!"

If you're interested in learning more about Boogie Woogie Babies, you can follow them on Instagram at @boogiewoogiebabies or Facebook at Boogie Woogie Babies.

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