Talk to just about any dancer in Utah, and they'll tell you Jen Osorio Pendleton is one of the crown jewels of their arts community. As a performer she's riveting. Whether she's dancing professionally (some of her credits include SoulEscape, Odyssey Dance Theatre, High School Musical and Legally Blonde 2) or teaching a room full of eager students at SoulEscape's summer event, at Millennium Dance Complex in Salt Lake City or in studios across the country, she creates an experience through movement that people can relate to on a personal level.

Pendleton says she strives to generate choreography that relates to her students' lives in some way and gives them an outlet for their emotions. "It's really nice to challenge dancers technically and to keep their minds thinking of growth, but it gets empty if it's not related to real-life experiences," Pendleton says. "This way choreography becomes something they're speaking to, rather than something they're executing."

Photo by Jenny Nielson, courtesy of Pendleton

A good example of this is a recent piece by Pendleton inspired by the lyrics to a song about gardening ("Avant Gardner" by Gordi) as a distraction from the stresses of life. "As a coping mechanism, I'll get as busy as possible when life gets hard," Pendleton says. "But it's important to take the time to sit down by yourself and gather your thoughts and process everything." She drew connections between her temptation to overschedule and the urge dancers have to rush through intense movement. "In both life and dance, it's important to find stillness. For the viewer's eye to gather what you're doing and for the next movement to have an impact, you have to stop sometimes. So much can be said and felt in stillness amidst quick, articulate movement."

FAVORITE SNACKS: "I'll eat anything that feels light and energizing. I have a cashew sour-cream dip recipe that I love to dip veggies, crackers or some ruffle chips in, and I love a good healthy drink as well, like Kombucha or the Super Herbs Rebbl Maca Mocha."

BOOKS SHE RECOMMENDS: "The Speed of Trust, by Stephen M.R. Covey, has amazing insights on trust and relationships, and one that I've loved that's dance-based is The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp."

GO-TO WORKOUT: "I do Pilates at least three times a week, yoga once a week, and one of my new goals is to make it to a ballet class once a week."

SHE NEVER LEAVES HOME WITHOUT: "My wallet, my inhaler and a good lipstick or ChapStick with a tint—a good lip color always makes me feel a little more put together than I actually am."

TEACHING APPAREL: "My go-to bottoms right now are American Apparel lightweight-cotton drawstring pants. My favorite top is an Outdoor Voices slash-back crop, and my ultimate cover top is a black, mock-neck long-sleeve sweater that came from a little boutique by my house called Koo De Ker."

MUST-HAVE FITNESS SUPPLIES: "Stott rotational disks and stability cushions both challenge my deep stabilizer muscles in different ways. I use a stability ball behind my upper or lower back to access my deep core muscles or to set my femurs in the hip cavity without much tension. Then, I like to use it to challenge the strength in-between my thighs or ankles to help access the adductor and deep core muscles."

The Conversation
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy of Hightower

The beloved "So You Think You Can Dance" alum and former Emmy-nominated "Dancing with the Stars" pro Chelsie Hightower discovered her passion for ballroom at a young age. She showed a natural ability for the Latin style, but she mastered the necessary versatility by studying jazz, ballet and other forms of dance. "Every style of dance builds on each other," she says, "and the more music you're exposed to, the more your rhythm and coordination is built."

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Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Burklyn Ballet, Courtesy Harlequin

Whether you're putting on a pair of pointe shoes, buckling your ballroom stilettos or lacing up your favorite high tops, the floor you're on can make or break your dancing. But with issues like sticking or slipping and a variety of frictions suitable to different dance steps and styles, it can be confusing to know which floor will work best for you.

No matter what your needs are, Harlequin Floors has your back, or rather, your feet. With 11 different marley vinyl floors available in a range of colors, Harlequin has options for every setting and dance style. We rounded up six of their most popular and versatile floors:

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Sponsored by Insure Fitness
AdobeStock, Courtesy Insure Fitness Group

As a teacher at a studio, you've more than likely developed long-lasting relationships with some of your students and parents. The idea that you could be sued by one of them might seem impossible to imagine, but Insure Fitness Group's Gianna Michalsen warns against relaxing into that mindset. "People say, 'Why do I need insurance? I've been working with these people for 10 years—we're friends,'" she says. "But no one ever takes into account how bad an injury can be. Despite how good your relationship is, people will sue you because of the toll an injury takes on their life."

You'll benefit most from an insurance policy that caters to the specifics of teaching dance at one or several studios. Here's what to look for:

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Studio Owners
Getty Images

If you're not prepared, studio picture day can be a real headache. But, if done right, it can provide you with gorgeous photos that will make your students and parents happy, while simultaneously providing you with marketing content you will be able to use for years to come.

Here are five tips that will help you pull off the day without a hitch.

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Studio Success with Just for Kix
Bill Johnson, Courtesy Just for Kix

Running a dance studio is a feat in itself. But adding a competition team into the mix brings a whole new set of challenges. Not only are you focusing on giving your dancers the best training possible, but you're navigating the fast-paced competition and convention circuit. Winning is one goal, but you also want to create an environment that's fun, educational and inspiring for young artists. We asked Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner with over 40 years of experience, for her advice on building a healthy dance team culture:

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Just for fun
Via YouTube

In its 14 years of existence, YouTube has been home to a world of competition dance videos that we have all consumed with heedless pleasure. Every battement, pirouette and trendy move has been archived somewhere, and we are all very thankful.

We decided it was time DT did a deep dive through those years of footage to show you the evolution of competition dance since the early days of YouTube.

From 2005 to 2019, styles have shifted a whole lot. Check them out, and let us know over on our Facebook page what you think the biggest differences are!


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Sponsored by World Class Vacations
David Galindo Photography

New York City is a dream destination for many dancers. However aspiring Broadway stars don't have to wait until they're pros to experience all the city has to offer. With Dance the World Broadway, students can get a taste of the Big Apple—plus hone their dance skills and make lasting memories.

Here's why Dance the World Broadway is the best way for students to experience NYC:

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Dance Teacher Tips
Photo courtesy of Koelliker

Sick of doing the same old stuff in technique class? Needing some across-the-floor combo inspiration? We caught up with three teachers from different areas of the country to bring you some of their favorite material for their day-to-day classes.

You're welcome!

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Dancer Health

Q: I have a very flexible spine and torso. My teachers tell me to use this flexibility during cambrés and port de bras, but when I do, I feel pain—mostly in my lower back. What should I change so I don't end up with back problems?

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Studio Owners
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If you're a studio owner, the thought of raising your rates most likely makes you cringe. Despite ever-increasing overhead expenses you can't avoid—rent, salaries, insurance—you're probably wary of alienating your customers, losing students or inviting confrontation if you increase the price of your tuition or registration and recital fees. DT spoke with three veteran studio owners who suggest it's time to get past that. Here's how to give your business the revenue boost it needs and the value justification it (and you) deserve.

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Dance Teachers Trending
Margie Gillis (left); photo by Kyle Froman

Margie Gillis dances the human experience. Undulating naked in a field of billowing grass in Lessons from Nature 4, or whirling in a sweep of lilac fabric in her signature work Slipstream, her movement is free of flashy technique and tricks, but driven and defined by emotion. "There's a central philosophy in my work about what the experience of being human is," says Gillis, whose movement style is an alchemy of Isadora Duncan's uninhibited self-expression and Paul Taylor's musicality, blended with elements of dance theater into something utterly unique and immediately accessible. "I want an authenticity," she says. "I want to touch my audiences profoundly and deeply."

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