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Debbie Allen, Mia Michaels and Allen's daughter at their studio in Los Angeles. Photo via Allen's Instagram
It's no surprise that many dance teachers have children who go on to become teachers themselves. Countless hours spent teaching—on the road or at the studio—makes the classroom a second home and developing a passion for dance practically second nature. But for some teachers, seeing their kids develop a passion for dance comes as a surprise. Take longtime tap instructor at Chapman University Brandee Lara Barnaby.
"If someone had told me that my kid would end up in dance education, I wouldn't have believed them," says Barnaby, who won the 2015 Dance Teacher Award in the Higher Education category. Her son Dante Lara, who now teaches tap in Southern California, started teaching after graduating from Chapman University. "I had some of the best teachers in the world growing up, starting with my mom, and I owe it to these mentors to be the best dance teacher I can," says Dante.
A young Dante with his mom and tap legend Gregory Hines. Photo courtesy of Lara Barnaby
Here are three other teachers who also had kids who went on to teach.
Denise Wall and Travis Wall
When it comes to the Wall family, the more appropriate point to raise is how could you not become a dancer if your mom and teacher was Denise Wall? But since conquering "So You Think You Can Dance" as a contestant, Travis has gone on to prove he's just as gifted as a teacher and choreographer.
Kim DelGrosso, co-owner of Center Stage Performing Arts Studio in Utah, has taught "So You Think You Can Dance" stars Ashleigh and Ryan Di Lello, and "Dancing With the Stars" pros Chelsie Hightower, Julianne and Derek Hough and Ashly Costa, who happens to be DelGrosso's daughter. Costa has now made a name for herself bringing ballroom class to the convention circuit. Clearly, the apples didn't fall far from this dancing family tree.
This mother-daughter powerhouse duo has got it all. The remarkable Debbie Allen needs no introduction, but in case you didn't know, her daughter Vivian, who danced on Broadway in Memphis and Hot Feet,is a also a regular teacher at her mom's studio in Los Angeles. Based on the caption below, it's no surprise Nixon followed in her mother's footsteps.
Teacher Kelby Brown (left) with a student at BDC. Photo via Brown's Instagram
If you're looking to find new teaching jobs or just expand your reach as a teacher, look no further than your Instagram account. Developing a digital voice that connects with studios and dancers is an easy (and cost-free) strategy to boost your profile.
"Instagram has definitely shined a spotlight on my gifts as a teacher," says Kelby Brown, who's taught for American Ballet Theatre and at conventions like The PULSE.
"I have had many inquiries about teaching master classes or being asked to be on faculty at different schools. It has also kept dance competitions in the know and reminds them to bring me out as a judge and educator."
Longtime accompanist Olga Bazilevskaya knows firsthand that when it comes to music, dancers and musicians speak different languages. "Early on in my her career, a teacher asked me to play a six and I was very confused," says Bazilevskaya. "Did she want a 6/8, six counts or a six-bar phrase?" Six-bar phrases don't really exist in classical ballet, Bazilevskaya thought to herself. To a musician, a "polynaise" is the term that Bazilevskaya would've understood best. "If it's not explained or specific," says Bazilevskaya, "it can be confusing to a musician."
When Bazilevskaya first started out playing for ballet classes, she realized quickly that every teacher has their own style and preferences for class, as well as how they communicate what they want. In an effort to fill the, at times, precarious gap between dance teachers and accompanists, Bazilevskaya will lead a Ballet Accompanist Training Intensive March 11–May 6 at Steps on Broadway in New York City.
For teachers not used to working with an accompanist, here are some more helpful hints to make the relationship work for everyone.
Julie Hammond White is an associate professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, where she directs the dance education BFA. Here, the mother of two (Townsend, 10, and Dominic, 7) takes us through a typical week of juggling herpersonal and professional life. We caught up with White in October on the first day of work after her fall break. —Jill Randall
6:30–10 am Up and trying to rouse the boys. Throw in a load of laundry, pack lunches, set out uniforms. Drop kids off at school and head to the library. Finish planning advanced ballet.
10:30–11 Read 99 (?!) work e-mails. Taking a few days off is a bad idea…
11 am–12:30 pm Teach advanced ballet. I'm doing what I call "vitamin phrases": 2- to 3-minute phrases that focus on one aspect of ballet (this week, petit allégro).
12:40–1:55 Teach Methods in Dance Education. This is a course that all juniors, regardless of their major (performance/choreography or dance ed), must take to learn how to effectively teach dance in K–12, studios, higher education or community programs.
3:30–4 Grab a quick salad at restaurant across the street. Read letters from the promotion committee—passed the first stage of being recommended for full professor!
4–6 Grade DED 360 papers. These take a while. DED 360 is one of two writing- and speaking-intensive classes for the major. In their papers, students comment on eight areas of diversity as defined by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and find a media resource that addresses each to compare and contrast their views.
Beloved pop-star and dancer extraordinaire Britney Spears recently posted a video on Instagram doing fouetté turns. Although she definitely earns an A+ for effort, there's room for improvement. And no hard feelings, Brit, even the most advanced dancers struggle with nailing these complicated turns.
"Fouetté turns are considered to many the hardest step in the ballet vocabulary," says Lisa Rumbauskas, an ABT-certified teacher at West End Academy of Dance. "However, with proper alignment and the help of physics, they can be much easier to achieve than they appear," she adds.
Here, Rumbaukas breaks down the positions necessary to whip off these tricky turns.
As a dance teacher, you've almost certainly had to talk to a student about her or his weight at one point or another. (You may have even had memorable conversations or situations in your own dance training—or maybe it's something that affected you as a teacher.)