Teachers share the philosophies and materials that make them successful in their careers and classes.
Amanda Pope (center in gray) with her students at Lower Manhattan Arts Academy
At Lower Manhattan Arts Academy, Amanda Pope begins class for high school dance majors with a mantra: “I believe in myself. I am the master of my ability. My success depends heavily on my work ethic and self-discipline.” She uses these phrases to focus and inspire students, who come from all five boroughs and every socioeconomic background. “They need a lot of motivation and prompting to realize what they are capable of,” says Pope, who has seen students go on to performing careers or to study dance in college.
Admission to LoMA is by lottery. Many students haven’t danced before, while others take classes at studios or choose to pursue more serious training with Pope after school and on weekends as part of the Chimera Concept hip-hop performance troupe. To manage mixed-level contemporary and hip-hop classes and a high population of students with special needs, Pope enlists the help of her more advanced students. She asks them to lead parts of the warm-up or to work with lower-achieving students in partners on mastering new skills—practicing the fundamentals of a tendu, for example. The advanced dancers thrive in leadership roles, she says, and it lets the lower-level students catch up. “We push each other and support each other. It helps them rise to their highest level.” DT
Teaching attire: T-shirt or tank top and a jacket or sweatshirt with leggings or sweats (Body Wrappers shown). “I am a sneaker head so I always have sneakers (Pastry shown) to match my clothing. They are stylish, and they provide support and shock absorption.”
To excite students: Step Up, Fame. “Students relate to these movies, and the dance sequences can be deconstructed into several lesson ideas.”
To expand her knowledge: The Art of Dance in Education, by Jacqueline M. Smith-Autard. “It helped me develop my teaching philosophy and dance curriculum.”
To unwind: “I have chamomile tea and take a hot shower.” She uses Dr. Teal’s Relax & Relief Ultra Moisturizing Body Wash with Epsom salt.
In her free time: “I love the beach, amusement parks and shopping for sneakers and trendy dance gear.”
Photos from top: by James Alonzo White, courtesy of Amanda Pope; courtesy of manufacturer, ©Thinkstock