Using Props

While waiting for a National Dance Association class to begin at the AAHPERD convention the other day, I asked the woman next to me if she was going to participate. "Absolutely," she said. "It's the only way to go." It was in that spirit that I got up early today for Sanja Korman's 7:30 a.m. demonstration of the use of props. Sanja not only demonstrated, but had us working hands on with jump ropes, hula hoops, balls, and ribbons--just the way she does with her high school students in Bellaire, Texas.
 
 
I was amazed at how, by concentrating on making my ribbon twirl into a spiral, I could easily and unself-consciously do an arabesque turn at the same time. Sanja pointed out that the use of props helps children learn kinesthetically how to do more than one thing at a time--and here we were discovering for ourselves exactly how that works. That's what I love about teachers--their willingness to put themselves in the shoes of their students. Even the young male P.E. teachers in the class (AAHPERD members include health, recreation, and phys ed teachers as well as dance educators) were gamely trying all the moves.

 

For more about Sanja who was honored with two educator awards in 2008 (both NDA and Dance Teacher), see the April issue of Dance Teacher, where on page 54, Sanja shares her favorite music for high school dance class.

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Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

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Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

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Claire McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

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