Laura Glenn can still remember the excitement she felt watching the Limón Dance Company perform at Central Park in the summer of 1962. "I turned to the person next to me and whispered, 'He's going to be my teacher!'" she says. Two weeks later, she started as a Juilliard freshman, where she indeed studied under the legendary José Limón before joining his company in her second year.


After more than a decade with his troupe, she became a faculty member at her alma mater—2017 marks her 30th year at Juilliard—and founded the White Mountain Summer Dance Festival, a three-week intensive that takes place this month (July 9–29) at the University of Massachusettts Amherst campus. Though the festival is known for its emphasis on immersion (students take class from sunup to sundown) and tailoring one's experience (whether with a focus on performance, choreography, injury prevention or healing modalities), what sets it apart is its size. Glenn has kept enrollment small each year—only 40 students—to ensure maximum bonding and so every dancer can take every class that's offered.

How she joined the Limón Dance Company "José wanted to do a piece in honor of his teacher Doris Humphrey, called A Choreographic Offering [1964]. The Juilliard students were in two sections, and then he set the finale. He was cordoning us off by size to be in one of four groups: 'So you go here, you go here, you go here.' When he got to me, he said, 'You go there.' I turned around to where he pointed, and it was where the company was standing. I went over there, and one by one, the company members said, 'What are you doing here?' 'I don't know! He asked me to stand here.' After the fifth or sixth company member asked me that, I just felt ridiculous. So I went up to José and said, 'I'm sorry, where did you want me to stand?' He said, 'I told you to stand over there!' For him, it wasn't complicated. I was in the company."

On dancing in Limón's final work "The last two works José made, one was for me and one was for Carla Maxwell. Orfeo [1972, about the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice] was made for me and Aaron Osborne. José had a farm—a renovated barn in New Jersey—and a lot of Orfeo got choreographed there because he was already becoming ill. Orfeo was clearly about the fact that José had recently lost his wife, Pauline. He saw the premiere, and he died two months later. It was an honor to be there, to be in his last works."

On staying dynamic as a teacher "Teaching isn't hierarchical. I have information to share, but if I don't fully respect the students and where they're at, I'm not really teaching—I'm pasting things on somebody. I love when a student asks a question and I can say, 'Nobody's ever asked me that before!' Then I'm being challenged, too. It's got to stay dynamic."

Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine

When choosing music for tap, Jason Samuels Smith encourages teachers to start with classic jazz music. Improvisation, call and response, and syncopated rhythms embedded in the genre and its history, in general, help students to understand the structure of tap, which is different than other styles of dance. "Tap dancers have the responsibility to be more than just a visual artist," he says. "They're an instrument and a sound."

Keep reading... Show less
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:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Getty Images

We're nearing the dog days of summer when the heat is unbearable and your patience is thinning. Dancers are exhausted and distracted by the bright sunshine outside your windows, and you can't stop dreaming of the vacation you get to take in just a few weeks. Everyone is wanting to give in to laziness, but you know that that won't bring you the joy you're looking for. You know that jumping in and educating your students and filling their passion for dance is the only way you will feel fulfilled by your work.

You need to get pumped up. You need to be inspired!

Don't worry, we have just the trick. Here are 10 inspirational quotes that will get you through these long (and sometimes grueling) days.

You're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by The Studio Director

As a studio owner, you're probably pretty used to juggling. Running a business is demanding, with new questions and challenges pulling your attention in a million different directions each day.

But there's a solution that could be saving you time and money (and sanity!). Studio management systems are easy-to-use software programs designed for the particular needs of studio owners, offering tools like billing, enrollment, inventory and emails, all in one place. The right studio management system can help you handle the day-to-day tasks that bog you down as a business owner, leaving you more time for the most important work—like connecting with students and planning creative curriculums for them. Plus, these systems can keep you from spending extra money on hiring multiple specialists or using multiple platforms to meet your administrative needs.

So how do you make sure you're choosing a studio management system that offers the same quality that your studio does? We talked to The Studio Director—whose studio management system provides a whole host of streamlined features—about the must-haves for any system, and the bonuses that make an excellent product stand out:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Summit
Photo by Rachel Papo

Joanne Chapman gave an entertaining rendition of what not to say during a parent/studio director conversation at the New York City Dance Teacher Summit. This panel was created by our team of studio-owner ambassadors, including Chapman and Dani Rosenberg, Becca Moore, Carole Royal, Sue Sampson-Dalena and Jody Phillips. While we enjoyed laughing at the absurd situation, it felt all too familiar to most in the room. The goal of the panel was to model constructive and proactive responses that will support a strong and successful studio business.

Mark Your Calendar

Join us in Long Beach, CA, July 26–28, or in NYC, August 1–3, for our 2019 Dance Teacher Summit.

Dance Teacher Tips
Photo Courtesy of Ballet Next

In 2011, when former American Ballet Theatre principal Michele Wiles departed the company and formed BalletNext, she found an artistic freedom she'd been longing for. Along with new collaborations with choreographers and musicians, she began working with trumpeter Tom Harrell, who introduced her to the multilayered sounds of jazz. "The dancers are another instrument to a jazz musician," says Wiles. Pairing this music genre with her classical foundation has been pivotal in defining her style. "I have this classical facility, but my mind is more contemporary. Jazz is a good intersection for my work," she says.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Turn It Up Dance Challenge
Courtesy Turn It Up

With back-to-back classes, early-morning stage calls and remembering to pack countless costume accessories, competition and convention weekends can feel like a whirlwind for even the most seasoned of studios. Take the advice of Turn It Up Dance Challenge master teachers Alex Wong and Maud Arnold and president Melissa Burns on how to make the experience feel meaningful and successful for your dancers:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Summit
Photo by Rachel Papo

Martin Harvey brought a little movie star charm into morning ballet class at our New York Dance Teacher Summit. (His acting credits include Gossip Girls, All My Children, Dirty Dancing, A Chorus Line, Carousel, plus Metropolitan Opera productions of Carmen and Manon Lescaut.) Educated at the Royal Ballet School in London, he danced many principal roles for The Royal Ballet during his 12-year career.

Mark Your Calendar

Join us in Long Beach, CA, July 26–28, or in NYC, August 1–3, for our 2019 Dance Teacher Summit.

Dance Teacher Tips
Thinkstock

Q: What suggestions do you have for dancers to get their shoulder blades to lie flat on their backs?

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Summit
Photo by Sarah Ash, courtesy of Larkin Dance

Ask Michele Larkin-Wagner and Molly Larkin-Symanietz what sets them and Maplewood, Minnesota–based Larkin Dance Studio apart, and they immediately give the credit to their mom. Shirley Larkin founded the school in 1950 and continued to oversee the growing business until she passed away in 2011. "She put Minnesota on the map for dance training and made other local studios step up to the plate to become as strong as we are," Michele says. "A lot of people's lives are better because of Shirley Larkin."

For Michele and Molly, following in their mom's footsteps was a no-brainer. "I knew I was going to be a choreographer and take over the studio," Michele says. To Molly, seven years Michele's junior and the baby out of six siblings, the studio was always a second home. The two sisters trained across genres but had distinct specialties: Michele found her niche in jazz, musical theater and lyrical, while Molly excelled in tap. In the summers, they'd travel for workshops in Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles. While Michele was in class with jazz legends like Gus Giordano, JoJo Smith, Luigi and Frank Hatchett, Molly was taking tap classes with the likes of Brenda Bufalino and Phil Black.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Summit
Photo courtesy of Gandarillas

In Macarena Gandarillas' jazz class at California State University, Fullerton, a sign in the studio reads, "Never underestimate the power of determination." This simple mantra embodies what has made this self-described "danceaholic" such an impactful teacher.

When Gandarillas came to Los Angeles at age 6 with her family from Santiago, Chile, the language barrier was beyond overwhelming—until her mom enrolled her in ballet classes. Gandarillas found an instant love. "There were no Spanish-speaking kids at my school," she says. "But with dance I could communicate with my body. I'd finally found my voice."

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox