Dance Teachers Trending

For Hip Hop Teacher Chaz Bodily, Creativity for Choreography Can Strike Unexpectedly

Bodily with his Center Stage Performing Arts Studio dancers at Nationals (here) and (at right) with his Creative Arts Academy students at a competition. Photo by Tisha Dayton, courtesy of Bodily

Chaz Bodily consistently creates hip-hop numbers that take top awards at some of the most prestigious conventions in the country. His work is equal parts innovative, entertaining and tasteful. The Utah-based choreographer splits his time between three highly competitive dance studios: Dance Impressions, Creative Arts Academy and Center Stage Performing Arts Studio.

It all begins with a concept, says Bodily, who trained in hip hop, ballroom, contemporary and ballet at Center Stage Performing Arts Studio. "Coming up with the story is the hardest part," he says. "I run seven or eight miles every day, and the entire time I'm just generating ideas." Once an idea comes to mind, he writes it down, then runs it by a trusted group of friends and fellow artists to gauge interest. "I can tell pretty quickly if something's going to work or not," he says.


Creativity can also strike at unexpected times. For example, the concept for a recent piece he created for Center Stage came to him while he was at home watching "The Dating Game" on television. "This guy came onto the show who was super-funny and cocky, and he immediately reminded me of one of my dancers," he says. "It was just too perfect. It gave me the vision for the whole thing." The piece that resulted is a humorous take on the show. "Hip hop doesn't have to be serious," he says. "It's one genre where you can be funny and make people laugh."

"I find my music by digging 40 layers deep into iTunes," he says. "I'll buy a song, and then Apple will recommend something else that I might like. It's like song Inception. By the time I'm 40 layers deep, I will find the perfect track that nobody has ever heard of before." With theme and song solidified, Bodily is ready to delve into the choreography. "I try not to make the movement too intricate," he says. "The dancers freak out over that kind of thing, but the audience (including the judges) just wants to have a good time and see the big moves they recognize from music videos."

One final word about age-appropriate concerns that come with the hip-hop territory: "You have to know the line because you are dealing with kids," he says. "I want my kids to feel confident, but they don't ever need to be inappropriate."

CLASSROOM RULES: "Don't have a bad attitude, and don't eat oranges in my classroom. They make me gag."

FAVORITE TEACHING TOOL: "I film my combos with a gimbal (basically a selfie stick) to make my students feel like they are being filmed professionally, and get used to dancing in front of a camera."

GO-TO BREAKFAST: "I have the same breakfast every day: a strawberry-banana smoothie, egg whites and a protein bar."

MUST-WATCH DANCE VIDEOS: "I highly recommend anything that Keone and Mari Madrid put on YouTube."

HIP-HOP WARM-UP: "I have a set warm-up that mainly focuses on getting the blood flowing—jumping jacks, push-ups and up-downs."

The Conversation
Getty Images

It's February! The month of love (and by extension, the month of pink) is upon us. We are major fans of a good class theme, and dressing lovey-dovey is one of our very favorites! So this month, to keep you on brand, we have a list of our favorite pink leos on the market right now. They're all kinds of wonderful.

Check them out and let us know your favorite in the comments!

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Getty Images

It's the day after Valentine's Day, and every single one of us is in a chocolate coma scrolling through endless love posts on social media. It's both the best and the worst day of the year 😂. Obnoxiously mushy Instagram captions aside, whether you have a significant other or not, we all know that your studio co-workers are the actual loves of your life.

Check out our five reasons why, and let us know over in our comments if we got 'em right!

XOXO

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Thinkstock

Q: Do you have any advice for dividing students into groups?

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Chris Hardy Photography

In Antoine Hunter's jazz class, students inevitably pick up sign language just by virtue of being his student. Though he doesn't typically incorporate ASL into his class combos, this dynamic phrase, which is one of his favorites, includes four signs: "heart," " re," "gone" and "deaf."

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
The Big Apple Tap Fest, courtesy of Dee

Debbi Dee took her first tap class at age 5 from vaudevillian hoofer and rhythm tapper Curly Fisher, in Rochester, New York. She studied tirelessly with him in the garage he had turned into a small, makeshift dance studio until she was 13 years old, when he claimed he had taken her as far as he could, and she needed to find herself a new teacher. Instead, she jumped feet first into her professional career, tapping with the Lawrence Welk and Count Basie orchestras on the traveling state fair circuit, on the Bob Hope USO shows, and in nightclubs in Vegas and the Catskills.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Thinkstock

We've all had times when we've failed miserably while trying our best to communicate important concepts and ideas to our students. We are all well-meaning with hopes that our dancers will achieve their dreams and become kind humans along the way. Unfortunately, our delivery may need some honing in order to help them without causing some damage,

Here are four common phrases dance teachers often say, and four ways we can adjust them to make them constructive and productive.

Let us know over on our Facebook page what phrases you try to avoid as a dance teacher!

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Courtesy Harlequin Floors

Just like your car, your studio needs periodic tune-ups to keep it humming along smoothly. If you take the time to address a few small fixes, your business will stand out. And you don't have to break the bank, either—you might be surprised how low-cost, DIY improvements can make a surprising difference.

Keep reading... Show less
Unsplash

Running a studio can be a major juggling act. It's no surprise, then, that a few things slip through the cracks—costing you money or students. Watch out for two common but often unnoticed mistakes, and you'll find yourself with more time, clients and revenue on your hands.

1. Using online registration as a crutch

If you offer registration via your studio website, make sure you aren't losing clients by neglecting in-person registration. One day Kathy Morrow, director of Dance Du Coeur in Sugar Land,Texas, overheard a front desk staffer directing a new client to the studio's website to register, rather than offering to do it over the phone. "I thought, You had a fish on the hook—why didn't you walk them through it?" she says. "When you register, there are a lot of boxes to check off. Some people want to pay with a check, some to link to a credit card. We can make it easier by answering any questions directly."

2. Not delegating

Have you heard yourself say, once too often, "If I want it done right, I have to do it myself"? Overextending yourself because of perfectionism or a misguided need to control can be counterproductive. By creating choreography, teaching, bookkeeping, cleaning, making phone calls, typesetting, doing payroll, mailings and ordering, you could be leaving no time for the very things that will create your best business. Misty Lown decided to delegate all the teaching at her Onalaska, Wisconsin-based studio, Misty's Dance Unlimited. "Giving up teaching was super-hard," she says, "but it's the best decision I ever made. Whenever I was teaching, it meant I never saw the other five classrooms that were operating during that time. Now I can rotate my time checking on classrooms and interacting with students."

Dance Teacher Tips
Getty Images

Working with a 9-year-old student, Alexandra Koltun asks the young girl to face the barre. She reviews fifth position, demi-pointe with the front foot and coupé devant. "I separate all the positions, so the student understands each one," says Koltun, founder and artistic director of Koltun Ballet Boston. She reaches down to shape the girl's foot into sur le cou-de-pied, leaving the heel in front and gently squeezing the toes around the ankle. "This position will equip the foot with more strength," she says.

Depending on a ballet teacher's preference and style of training, sur le cou-de-pied (meaning "on the neck of the foot") may be incorporated into class at different times and in various ways. From steps like pas de cheval to frappé and développé, the wrapped position can be fundamental to a student's technical development. Or it can be used less often and as a supplement to cou-de-pied front and back. Either way, the value of the position remains constant as a tool to mold and strengthen dancers' feet.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun

Show your significant other how much you love them through dance! Send them one of your favorite romantic dance videos that best describes your feelings, and they're sure to swoon!

Here are four of our favorites that depict a range of emotions along the spectrum of true love. Let us know over on our Facebook page which one best represents your relationship!

You're welcome in advance!

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun

The best way to celebrate a holiday in the dance teacher world is to create a class combo that fits the theme! It's a sure-fire way to get you and your kiddos into the spirit of the day! So, Valentine's Day, we recommend some mushy, cheesy, oh-so-wonderful love songs!

Check out these six songs for potential class combo ideas. They're sure to be a hit.

You're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Unsplash

When it comes to running a thriving dance studio, Cindy Clough knows what she's talking about. As executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner for more than four decades, she's all too aware of the unique challenges the job presents, from teaching to scheduling to managing employees and clients.

Here, Clough shares her best advice for new studio owners, and the answers to some common questions that come up when you're getting started.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox