Teachers share the philosophies and materials that make them successful in their careers and classes.
When teaching ballet/jazz class for kids, Cindera Che applies the discipline of classical ballet but acknowledges that her 7- to 11-year-old students are there to have fun and release excess energy. It’s a balance Che found lacking when she looked for a dance class for her own 8-year-old daughter. “They were either really strict, and it seemed like there was no joy, or they were not disciplined at all,” she says. “I realized I had to teach it myself!”
Che, who teaches at L.A.’s The Sweat Spot and EDGE Performing Arts Center, asks young dancers to curtsy to her as they enter the studio one by one. She curtsies back, setting the tone for the beginning of class. “You’re now entering a creative space,” she tells them. “You are here to create; you are here to get better.” After technique-focused barre and jazz progressions, she rewards students with more creative freedom, asking them what kind of story they’d like to tell. When she really wants them to let loose, she asks dancers to finish their across-the-floor routine by opening their arms and running across the studio, screaming at the top of their lungs. “Kids are always told not to make noise, not to be loud, but I just ask them to let it all out,” she says. “If you’ve been frustrated or exhilarated, or if you’ve been holding it in because you’re so scared, just let it out. I want to develop young artists who can use dance as a tool to express themselves.” DT
“We often dance with chairs to develop spatial awareness.”
To teach anatomy, Che helps students tape tissue paper onto a skeleton. Dancers can then experiment with how muscles and bones interact. “They see where turnout comes from or which muscles will help their arabesque.”
For comfortable classwear, Che loves American Apparel’s Summer T.
Che swears by the calf-sculpting powers of Balanced Body’s Foot Corrector.
Classroom photos by Michael Palma; shirt by Emily Giacalone; others courtesy of manufacturers