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Brandi Vickers

Brandi has a strong history in both dance and customer support and blends her areas of expertise in her role as TutuTix’s director of sales for the midwest. Her goal is to take some of the recital-time anxiety off studio owners’ shoulders, and make sure every client has a great experience.
Browsing All Posts By Brandi Vickers

Fun Ideas to Celebrate Thanksgiving with Younger Dancers

celebrate thanksgiving

The holiday season is underway! With Halloween behind us, check these great activities, songs, dances, and fun costume ideas to celebrate Thanksgiving at your studio!

Thanksgiving-Themed Games

Ideally, activities for a dance class will have kids running and moving

If you’re looking for some fun games to play in the classroom, Dance Exploration put together a fun list of games like “Gobble Gobble Turkey Says,” and other activities that encourage sharing between kids.


For other ideas to get kids up and moving, Pre-K and K Sharing has a few ideas for songs you can sing to get kids dancing and flapping their turkey wings!

 

Thanksgiving Songs

The Hokey Pokey is a classic for any time of the year, but this video has it themed for Thanksgiving!

 

Or, check out the easy-to-follow Turkey Dance Freeze! Great for the little ones!

Easy Hair Styles

The Turkey Bun

This super cute bun takes a simple braid and some colored pipe cleaners, and transforms your dancer’s bun into a Thanksgiving turkey! See the full tutorial for making the bun from our friends at Babes in Hairland.

 

The Turkey Ribbon Bow

Want something a little less complicated than the bun? With a little ribbon and a hot glue gun, you can have a classroom of little turkeys running around in no time! See the full instructions here.

Does your studio have any Thanksgiving traditions you’d like to share? Post a comment below! If you thought these ideas were helpful, don’t forget to share it with others on the TutuTix Facebook page!

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Planning Recital Pictures Ahead of Time

recital pictures

Want to make your recital picture days as efficient as possible? Pre-plan the classes’ portrait poses, so that they can be immediately prepared when they enter the photo room. There are several things to think about when planning your studio’s recital photos. But, if you put in a little preparation you’ll save yourself stress and save everyone time on the day of recital pictures.

Timing and Location

When are you going to have your recital pictures taken? Will it be at the dress rehearsal, or on the day of the recital? Will you be having your dress rehearsal at the performance venue?

Answering these three questions will determine a lot of things about your recital pictures: the scenery and setting, how much time you’ll have to get good pictures, if you’ll be hiring the photographer for one or two nights.

Let’s say you take your recital pictures the night of the dress rehearsal, and have access to the performance venue.

This means that your advance work might mean going by the venue and picking a good spot for photos, and scheduling the pictures as part of the evening! The only downside might mean the cost for the photographer for an extra night (unless you have a package deal that includes recital pictures and performance pictures).

With some good logistics and planning with your teachers, you can have one group of dancers taking pictures, and then heading for the stage so that there aren’t any dancers (and parents) sitting and waiting.

Dance Recital Prep: It's the Final Countdown

If you take your recital pictures prior to the recital but don’t have access to the venue, you can be a little more flexible in your setting! But, timing is important: having pictures on a night where all dancers are required to be there (like the dress rehearsal) helps to ensure that all of your dancers actually attend. As far as the photographer, it’s the same situation: are they charging by the night? As a package? That’s up to you and the photographer to figure out.

If you take your recital pictures on the night of the recital, at the venue, you’ll be in great shape to have everyone there, and in a great setting! Keep in mind that you’ll be in a little more of a time crunch, since parents/family/guests will be eager to get into the venue space. Plus, even if you take pictures somewhere different than the stage, dancers will be easily distracted by their family members. Preparing recital pictures will probably be the MOST helpful in this kind of situation.

Composition

Depending on the age of your dancers, the simpler the arrangement, the better. Your goal with these recital photos is to make sure everyone’s face is clearly visible. Very basic setups put taller dancers in the back, shorter in the front. From there, you can arrange dancers in a way that shows off costumes, featured soloists, etc.

Depending on your agreement with the photographer, you can ask them to come by the studio to help with this planning. They might be able to offer some creative tips to make your recital pictures really pop!

Even if your professional photographer can’t make it to a planning session, you might know that one of your dance parents enjoys photography, and might be able to help out as well.

Make notes and keep track of every class’ designated position. When it’s time for the official photo shoot, make sure your studio representatives have access to and knowledge about all of the poses for each of the pictures. While poses may be adjusted slightly to work for the camera, this will create efficiency, evoke creativity in the photographic composition, and save time.

*Editor’s Note: This piece is based on an article written by Chasta Hamilton-Calhoun of the DanceExec.

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How to Get Ready for a Dance Competition: The Dance Parent’s Competition Survival Guide

how to get ready for a dance competition

Need to know how to get ready for a dance competition? Check out these resources we’ve put together so that you and your stars are ready to hit the big stage!

Pre-Preparation: 2-3 Months Out

We say “pre-preparation” because competition season should be on your calendar WAY before the week of the big day(s). Your dance studio staff will be doing research, confirming details with the competition staff, and relaying information to you as they get it.

So, be sure to read any and all news updates as they get to you! That way you can be:

  • Putting the dates on your calendar
  • Planning to take off work dates as necessary
  • Researching travel details (flights, routes, rentals, hotels, arrival times, etc)

Also, make sure to reinforce good eating habits with your dancer(s). Dancers are athletes, so they should be eating well anyway, but it’s especially important to have them strong and healthy going into an important event where they represent their studio.

You can see some of our recommendations for good nutrition for dancers here.

Preparation: 3-4 Weeks Out

It’s ALWAYS better to be safe than sorry, and by digging in and figuring out the small details early, you’ll leave yourself some wiggle room for those last-minute emergencies.

One of the easiest ways to make sure you have everything you need for an upcoming competition is to:

  • Do your research (ask your dance teachers for suggestions, and check the internet for recommendations from other dance parents or guides)
  • Make your giant list of things, and maybe coordinate with other dance parents to buy items in bulk and split some costs of supplies
  • Find a way to put all your supplies into one easy, organized container

Our Dance Competition Survival Kit guide lays out some of the best ideas we’ve found for building your all-in-one dance competition station, and has been updated with suggestions from real dance teachers and parents who have been to competitions before and know their stuff.

Creating a Dance Competition Survival Kit

More or less, the supplies you’ll need break down into:

  • Dance stuff (costumes, accessories, clothing changes, “fix-it” items)
  • Makeup stuff (yes, it has its own category, based on the complexity of your dancer’s getup and hair)
  • First Aid/Health stuff (to fix up scrapes, help headaches, etc)
  • Healthy snacks for you and your dancer to eat throughout the day
  • Personal comfort items (coffee thermos, light jacket, phone charger, water)

The Day Of

On the day of competition, you and the rest of the studio’s dancers and parents will all be running around, trying to make sure you’re in the right place at the right time. There’s so much going on at a competition!

Before you get caught up in the commotion of the day, make sure that you as a parent have taken a step back and recognized that the day isn’t about you: it’s about your dancer!! And dancers, especially those who might be attending some of their first few competitions, are the ones who will suffer the most if they get stressed out and upset.

You can address dancers’ stress and help them get through tricky competition problems with some of these tips about 5 Common Dance Competition Crises.

Dance competition

Prior to the competition, it’ll be a good idea to practice applying makeup so you have a feel for the various types of makeup, and how much you’ll need to use to make sure it sticks throughout the performance. That way, once you’re there and in the dressing rooms, there won’t be any guessing.

Plus, there’s a good chance that someone who hasn’t practiced may need a helping hand, so it’s a good idea to know what you’re doing so you can help out someone on your dance team.

Competition Makeup

Follow the Teacher/Leader

The teachers are the pros. They’ve done the competition thing many times, both as teachers and (very likely) as performers! Look to them and pay attention to their directions.

Like we mentioned earlier, the day of competition will be full of noise, distractions, and probably some complaining here and there. Have your schedule, have some kind of communication plan in place (some studios use a messaging app or group text), and follow your teachers’ leads.

Make A Checklist – For Things and To-Do’s

Your Daily Dance has a great printable checklist that fits onto a regular sheet of computer paper, and can definitely cover most if not all of your bases (depending on your particular dancer’s needs and the competition you’re going to).

Finally, take a deep breath. Taking your dancer to competition is a lot of work! But few things are as rewarding as seeing your dancer have the time of their life on stage and come home with a new sense of achievement.

If you haven’t already seen it, check out “A Dance Mom’s Prayer for Competition Day” from Your Daily Dance: it’s amazing.

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How to Add Rhinestone Designs to Dance Costumes

How to Add Rhinestone Designs to Dance Costumes

Everyone knows how important a great dance costume is. All of the hard work and practice put into routines by dancers deserves to be highlighted in a special and beautiful way, and a costume can do just that! If you’re like any of the studio owners I know, you put in TONS of time and effort trying to find or make special costumes that bring out the best in your dancers. One way to enhance an already great costume or upgrade an old costume is to add rhinestone designs to the costume.

Rhinestone Designs and Application 101

New to the idea of rhinestones, or never tried it before? Check out the tutorial video below. It’s a longer video, but one of the best and most thorough videos we saw online. It talks about rhinestone designs, tools, tips, and more.

Choose A Design That Fits the Costume

So you’re ready to get started! Before you do anything else, answer this question:

What do you want your “upgraded” costume to accomplish?

  1. Do you want to accent patterns that already exist on the costume?
  2. Do you want to create totally new patterns?
  3. Are you looking to just add some pop to the costume?

BDancewear’s “5 Ways to Rhinestone Your Dance Costume” has 5 suggestions on different rhinestone designs you can add to your dance costumes, plus individual how-to’s for each design included as clickable links in the video.

Like the video mentions, you can use rhinestones to:

  • Add some pop with a scattered design that is simple but effective
  • Accent an existing costume design and make different features stand out
  • Add a totally new design feature that re-imagines the potential of a costume
  • Or any combination!

Practice Makes Perfect

As with many craft projects, it takes a few tries to get it right. And if you’re trying to add some new life to a costume that will need to last for a season or a year, your work needs to be pretty good!

So, do some practicing with cheaper rhinestones on practice material to get your form down. The first video tutorial talked about some tools and techniques to make your rhinestone application perfect: don’t forget to also see what has and hasn’t worked for people before!

We found an awesome article on the blog “My Life As A Dancem0m” that talked about a few mistakes made on past rhinestone projects that became lessons for the future.

With the right preparation, practice, and perseverance, your dance costume is sure to be a future masterpiece!

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The 5 Best Dance Movies of the 2000’s

best dance movies

When you’re talking about the best dance movies of all time, nothing beats the classics. From the signature lift in “Dirty Dancing” to the final audition scene in “Flashdance​,” the classics embody traditional ballet and ballroom dance styles. All the while, they narrate charming love stories and show what it takes to be a successful dancer.

But, if your dancers are looking for more modern films, filled with new dance styles and values upheld by the dance industry today, they are in luck. Here are five must-see dance films of the 2000’s:

1. Center Stage (2000)

The cast of “Center Stage” is composed of professional dancers, making the routines and performances. “Center Stage”, as IMDb described, tells the story of 12 students at the American Ballet Academy who make great sacrifices to become stars in the world of competitive dance. This film addresses not only the struggles of dance, but also the passion it takes to succeed.

2. Honey (2003)

Honey (played by Jessica Alba) is an aspiring music video choreographer who finally gets her chance, but refuses to compromise her values to make it big. All the while, she opens a dance school for the youth of her community. According to Rotten Tomatoes, this film is an audience favorite for its high-energy hip hop routines, its illustration of the value of dance and the message to always stay true to yourself.

3. Step Up (2006)

“Step Up” blends old styles with new, as an affluent, trained ballet dancer teams up with a rebellious street dancer for a performance that will determine her future. In this film, versatility, originality and a little bit of risk are all celebrated and marked as key elements to becoming a successful dancer in today’s era. The original “Step Up” now has four sequels, all rated favorably by The Movie DB.

4. Stomp the Yard (2007)

Sony Pictures’ “Stomp the Yard” introduces step, as underground street dancer DJ finds himself in a competitive step group when he enters college. This film addresses the heritage of step, the importance of balance and, ultimately, the rewards of teamwork.

5. Footloose (2011)

A remake of a classic, the 2000’s “Footloose” tells the same story of a rebellious teen who revives dance in a rural small town that outlawed loud music and dancing in response to a tragedy. According to E News’ movie review, the new film upholds the sanctity of the classic with original dance moves and pieces of dialog, but puts a modern, exciting twist on the 1984 film with catchy music and entertaining choreography. For both younger dancers who want something more modern and older dancers who love the classic, the new “Footloose” is a must-see.

Save the Last Dance

Thanks to the TutuTix community for the save: you can’t forget “Save the Last Dance!!”

High School Musical

Thanks again to the TutuTix community, who pointed out that High School Musical’s choreography has been very influential since the movie’s release.

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Dance Competition Music: 4 Tips on Choosing the Right Songs

dance competition music

With competition season, you’re probably in a whirlwind of costumes, choreography and cosmetics. Hopefully you’ve coordinated all these different aspects of your team’s performances to really impress the judges, but don’t overlook one of the most crucial aspects: the dance competition music.

Sure, you could go with a classic like “All that Jazz” or “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” but you might see some peoples’ eyes glaze over when they’ve already heard it three times that day. There are certainly a number of overused songs that you’ll hear at competitions – here’s a handy list from the Dance Exec – so spruce up your routines this year with unique, infectious music that will have the crowds on their feet.

1. Consider Age Appropriateness

If you’ve been competing for a number of years, you’ve likely seen a great dance team get cringes from the audience because their music crossed a certain line. While “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke is certainly catchy and has a fun beat, the lyrics aren’t something that parents want to see young dancers connecting with.

Always take the age of your performers into account when choosing music for their performances. It’s best to steer clear of songs with overly suggestive or mature themes – there are plenty of clean options to choose from!

2. Stay Away From Top-40 Songs

Top-40 songs are a go-to for many choreographers, but you can bet that hundreds of other studios have the same idea.

Stand out from the pack by choosing tunes that will make your performances unique!

Whether you choose an “oldie” or a track that hasn’t made it to the radio yet, you’ll be putting your team in position to give a one-of-a-kind performance.

3. Make Sure Everyone Loves It

You may love a certain ’60s rock ballad, but if your dancers aren’t keen on the music, their performance may fall a little flat. Work to find music that both you and your performers enjoy. After all, you’ll probably be hearing it 500 times or so before the competition, so it’s better if everyone likes the tune.

4. Look for Must-Haves

Once you’ve whittled down your choices to a handful of appropriate, under-utilized options, you can rule songs out by looking for certain must-have characteristics. Your song should be easy to cut down to the right length, and it also needs to have a strong beat and proper tempo.

You’ll also want to consider how the music fits into the genre your kids are performing in. When you take these aspects into account, you’ll be able to pick the perfect song!

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Expressing Yourself Through Choreography

Expressing Yourself Through Choreography

Dance is a medium for expressing yourself, and as a teacher you have the freedom to push your creativity to the limit through choreography. There’s two sides to choreographing recital pieces for your classes: the side that challenges your students but also recognizes the limits of their skill level, and the side that lets your personal ideas dance across the stage. Finding the perfect balance is no easy task, but with the right approach and genuine love for the art, you’ll put together a piece that your dancers and audience will love.

Different Ways of Learning

There’s an idea in the educational world that people learn best in different ways, whether it be visually, mathematically, musically, or verbally. For dancers, one big educational approach that fits the nature of the art is physical learning. Dancers can remember long routines by being very in tune with the movement of their bodies, and tie in musical ability to keep their movements right on time. As a choreographer, you have the unique ability to dictate those movements and create a physical narrative for dancers to follow and repeat on stage.

Use Music and Improvise

So, what do you want your story to say? There’s a chicken-or-egg question to be asked here: do you start with music, or do you fit music to the movements you see in your head or feel in your body? There’s no right answer. Every choreographer has a different way of putting a piece together, and not every piece will be created in the same way.

One means of expressing yourself and tapping into your inner choreographer is to improvise. Put on a musical piece that you like, or a musical piece you’ve danced to before, and let yourself fit your body movements to the narrative of the song.

When jazz musicians improvise, they feel the structure of the song and then find a way to fit their personal ideas on top of that structure. In the same way, improvising dance lets you experiment with different movements and in different spaces that feel right in the moment.

Be Reflective

Just like many people reflect on their day through a diary or video blog, choreography is an opportunity to take your personal emotions and ideas and express them through a new medium. Maybe you’ve already picked a theme for your recital: what kind of tone will your theme have? Do your younger dancers work on routines that reflect positivity and growth? Do you dig deeper and have your older dancers perform a more thoughtful or intense piece? Don’t be afraid to push your dancers and expose them to different kinds of works. Actors have changing roles, and classical musicians play different symphonies. As dancers progress in their personal careers, they need to have exposure to different emotional elements in dance.

No matter the route you take, use choreography as an opportunity, not a requirement for the season. Let yourself experiment with moves, fit bodies to the narrative of the music you choose, and pour your heart and soul into the piece for the best result possible.

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Earning A Degree in Dance: Choosing The Right School

Earning A Degree in Dance

If you’re considering dance as a profession, earning a university degree can and should be on your radar. While a degree in dance is certainly not the only option available for dreamers looking to dedicate themselves to the art, it is a well-established path to technical proficiency and documentable learning. As you start preparing applications for dance schools, follow this guide to help you pick a school that will be the best fit for you and your ambitions.

Prepare A Career Plan

Where do you want to be in 10 years?

Your long-term goals will help determine the best plan for you, especially as you choose a school of higher education. Different schools have different strengths, and some programs might be a better fit for performers looking to join a dance company, while others might be a great fit for dancers looking to open a studio and engage their communities. Do your homework and find out which dance programs fit your ambitions the best, and follow-up by making sure the school itself will also be a comfortable fit for your personality. A list of the big picture items to research might include:

Dance Faculty Members

Performance Opportunities

Admissions Requirements

Tuition/Fees

Geography

While not the only points to consider, these are a great start and will help to whittle down your choices and help focus your application efforts.

Talk to Your Teacher

Your teachers want you to succeed, and will do everything they can to help guide your way forward. Use them as the valuable resource they are! Dance teachers have been through the trials of university training, company training, a combination of both, or a variety of other dance experiences. They are your resident experts. The internet can tell you plenty, and you should use online resources to better inform your ideas. But the resources to rely on are your teachers: they have direct insight into the higher levels of dance education, and their networks of professionals will be able to guide you with more meaningful advice than any website.

Before you start digging into the deeper questions, however, be sure to be prepared with the goals and ideas we mentioned earlier. Having an idea of what you’re looking for with your degree in dance will better inform your teachers and put your situation into context for them. And, be open to their feedback about your goals! They know your progress better than anyone, and will offer advice that can help you confirm (or reconsider) your ideas.

Here are a few ideas for questions to ask your teachers:

What are some programs you might recommend for me?

I’ve put together some ideas for audition choreography, can you help me refine my pieces?

Should I study dance one more year before applying to universities?

Could you write a letter of recommendation for me?

Don’t Forget About Other Areas of Study

One could study dance his/her entire life and learn something new every day. But in the context of a college degree, arming yourself with a variety of different skills and ideas will only help you in the future. Use the time and learning opportunities to your advantage, and make sure to take academic classes that will challenge your understanding and build you up as a well-rounded individual.

The Juilliard school of dance, one of the more prestigious institutions in the world, incorporates a liberal arts curriculum into their degree program. That means that they require students to take classes in a variety of subjects besides their main degree in dance program. Keeping the idea of liberal arts in mind, consider taking business classes to help you run a studio, art history classes to put your creative elements in context with the world, or theatre to challenge your performing skills in a different way. The more exposure you get to different ideas, the better equipped you will be after graduation.

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Dance School Advertising: 3 Tips for Writing Ads for Your Studio

Dance school advertising

There’s a great deal of work that goes into running a successful dance studio. From balancing budgets to managing staff, studio owners do so much to help create an environment where new generations of dancers can grow and learn. The fact of the matter is, however, that all that work can’t amount to much if there are no students to take classes or patrons to attend events. While there’s much to be said about the value of word of mouth from satisfied customers, dance studio owners can’t rely on other people to do their advertising for them. It takes a proactive approach to create an appealing marketing campaign, and it takes creative dance school advertising ideas to make those marketing plans inspire new clients to walk through the door.

1. Know Your Target Audience

While it’s great to imagine a world where every single person wants to buy your product and to give business to your studio, you know that simply isn’t the case. Some people will be more likely to use your services than others, so it’s important to target them with your ad campaigns.

The first step in being able to write ads for your demographic is to determine who that group of people is. Forbes reported that business owners must start by identifying who will be most likely to use your product. For dance studios, that may mean considering the ages you serve, the styles of dance you offer and the level of competition that students can expect. If you run an all-inclusive studio that allows for varying levels of novice dancers, or you primarily focus on younger students, you don’t want to write an ad that’s too focused on elite dancers, as you’ll alienate students who want to learn and take your introductory programs. Conversely, if your biggest sell is that you offer a rigorous training program for top-level dancers to expand their skill sets, you want to make sure you use the language that will appeal to their goals instead.

Regardless of the kind of services you provide, you need to remember that you have two separate groups you need to appeal to – the students of course, but also their parents. Parents and students will have some overlapping goals, like ensuring safety, fun and education, but they’ll take different factors into account. Parents will be more likely to focus on costs than their children are, for example. While it’s all well and good to create dance school advertising that appeals to the students’ desire to perform and enjoy their time, it’s ultimately up to the parents to decide if they’ll sign up for the lessons or not.

Consider ads that can do both, like an ad with flashy images that can attract new students but uses language that will draw in parents. Think of terms like “flexible class schedules” or “personalized payment plans” or appealing ways to describe any other specialty you might offer that will ease any parent’s worries about the time or costs that can be associated with an extra curricular activity. You can also choose to create separate ad campaigns that run at the same time: one that targets students and one for parents.

2. Choose a Platform to Spread Your Message

Once you’ve nailed down who it is you’re writing to, you need to determine the best way to let you message reach them. Fortunately for studio owners today, the internet and social media have dramatically increased the channels that business owners can use to communicate with clients.

One of the biggest mistakes that any business owner makes when trying to advertise a company is not tailoring content to the right platform. Carefully consider where your dance school advertising piece is going to appear before you start writing. Facebook ads, for example, have a different set of space and character limits than a Google Display Ad. Don’t waste your time writing out an ad only to discover afterwards that it doesn’t fit the restrictions of the site you’re using. Do a little research on what the requirements are for what platform you want to post on and then go from there.

Social media ads can be helpful because they let you target certain groups. On Facebook, for example, you can target by age, location and other interests. You could target a specific dance school advertising piece so that it’s only seen by people in your area that have listed “dance” or “ballet” as an interest, or whose favorite movies include “Center Stage.” Social media can also let you advertise for free in some cases. If you have a strong social media presence, simply making new posts can help you get the word out. Just be aware that this strategy will rely on other people helping to share your content so new people will see it, which can be risky.

While digital advertising is effective, don’t completely overlook traditional methods like newspapers and radio commercials. A lot of this will be geographic – do a little research, even if it’s just a quick search engine query, to find out which channels are the most popular in your area.

3. Answer Their Questions Before They Ask

People often don’t like advertisements, so it’s important to write dance school advertising content that can quickly grab their attention and tell them what they need to know before they get bored and move on. Start by answering the “five w’s an an h:”

  • What are you offering?
  • Who is it for?
  • When does it take place?
  • Where will it be?
  • Why should people be interested?
  • How do they get involved?

You don’t have to spell the questions and answers out, but make sure your wording is clear, concise and provides that information. Entrepreneur recommended that you read your ad copy out loud to yourself. It should only take a few seconds to read all of it, and you shouldn’t be stumbling over any complicated phrases. If you want to say more, instruct people to contact you directly, or to visit your website. There you can have pages that list the important cursory details on top for the people who are skimming for information, but you’ll also have room for more stories and anecdotes for people who want to read more.

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When to Use Ice or Heat for an Injury

Defaulting to the same treatment for every muscle pain can inhibit recovery. Check these tips on when to use ice or heat treatment for pain!

Ballet is a very disciplined art that requires a lot of work from the body. Dancers train carefully and are diligent with their warm ups to prevent injuries, but even with the best prep work they can still face sore muscles and occasional strains. When that happens to you, it’s important to treat the pains correctly so that you can get back to dancing quickly and safely. Common misconceptions about the correct way to treat these minor injuries can lead to delayed recovery times or an increased risk of bothering the problem area again. Knowing when to use ice or heat is important knowledge for every dancer to have.

When to Ice Sore Muscles

For many dancers, applying ice to a painful area can be the default reaction, but injury specialists warn that this isn’t always the appropriate response.

According to the experts at Health Line, icing is meant for the quick treatment of fresh injuries. Also known as cryotherapy, this process works best for treating pain and inflammation. Cryotherapy can also be used if a dancer is feeling sore after a particularly demanding workout. The ice causes the blood vessels to constrict which reduces swelling and the discomfort that comes with it. Icing sore areas after exercising can reduce bruising as well by slowing down fluid build-ups under the skin.

You need to be careful to avoid icing before performing any strenuous activity. There’s a reason why athletes of all disciplines must perform warm ups before exercising – cold muscles are tighter and can be more prone to pulls or tears. If you feel the need to ice any part of your body during a dance class or workout, you need to be done exercising for a while.

It can be dangerous to return to physical activity immediately after icing a muscle, even if it’s started to feel better. You’ll be better off taking a little extra downtime than risking making an injury worse, which could result in a much longer recovery. Dance Teacher Magazine recommended you wait at least an hour before dancing again if you’ve iced a muscle.

The writers at Dance Teacher Magazine also emphasized that placing ice on an injury can create more problems than it solves if it isn’t done properly. Make sure you wrap your ice pack in a thin towel or similar material to keep it from having direct contact with your skin. You should only apply ice for a maximum of 20 minutes. Otherwise, it may work to increase blood flow to the area again. Ideally, the source recommends that you ice for 10 minutes every hour until the swelling has gone down.

When to Turn to Heat

Using heat, like an electronic heating pad or microwavable warming pack, is good for soreness unrelated to swelling or for muscle spasms. The Cleveland Clinic reported that heat will help to relax muscles and get rid of any stiffness.

Applying heat to a sore area can be beneficial before a workout, but it’s important that you only do this if you’re sure you don’t have a serious injury. A little stiffness in the calves after a hard day of dancing is common, but if you rolled your ankle the day before you don’t want to try to push through that pain. Use heat to relax stiff muscles to improve flexibility and prevent strains before dancing again.

Heat should never be applied to acute pain or swollen areas. The warmth will increase blood flow, which will allow a swollen muscle to expand even more. Dance Teacher Magazine reported that you should wait at least 48 hours after an injury to make sure swelling is gone before switching from ice to heat therapy.

When to See a Doctor

The most important thing about treating pain is making sure you aren’t ignoring a serious injury. While you may tell yourself that the show must go on and try to dance through it, you could actually be causing yourself to spend more time away from dance by creating a bigger problem than you started with. The medical experts at the Mayo Clinic said that most minor injuries can be treated with home remedies at first, but if pain persists you’ll need to visit a doctor to rule out any significant problems.

If there is major swelling or the pain is excruciating, you need to see a medical professional right away. If you can’t put any pressure on the injured area, like carrying something when you have a sore wrist or walking on a bad ankle, that’s also a sign that you shouldn’t wait for treatment.

Otherwise, just be sure to use the right timing for ice or heat and make sure to get plenty of rest while you’re feeling pain.

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Dance Teacher Education: Strengthen Your Own Identity as a Dancer

dance teacher education

Teaching dance is a fulfilling career that allows you to share your passion with others. A dance teacher education can be a combination of performance, formal training, and other experiences with dance. After dancing their entire lives, some dancers decide to devote their time to teaching. However, dance teachers lead busy, hectic lives ruled by demanding schedules, and that means that it can be difficult to continue fitting in personal dance practice or finding the time to stay in shape as a dancer.

For some teachers, especially younger ones, this can be a cause of distress. When your life was previously defined by dance – and your identity defined as a dancer – what happens when you no longer have the time to commit to your own dance practice? Or when you realize that your flexibility is not as impressive as it use to be, or that you can’t turn quite as many pirouettes as you could before you started teaching? This change is even more noticeable in the summer months, when teachers typically have more downtime.

This is a natural shift that comes with the territory, but don’t let it get you down. There are still so many ways you can continue being a dancer while you’re also a dance teacher.

Scheduling ‘Self-Classes’

The best teachers are the ones who continue learning and growing through their own dance practice. But this is easier said than done. For example, the last thing you may want to do after a long and grueling class with distracted kids is lace up your shoes and hit the barre. However, taking the time to fit dancing into your life is key to strengthening your identity as a dancer, and not just a teacher.

Block out an hour of time before or after your class to devote to your own practice. You could also schedule time to practice in the studio on days you don’t teach or on the weekend. If you freelance as a dance teacher, ask the studio owner if they would mind if you used a classroom on your own time – most will be fine with this.

Treat this solo time as if it was an actual class you registered for. Stick to the same time each week, and pencil in your personal practice days on your calendar.

Great Teachers Keep Learning

You’ll find that making a conscious effort to continue developing as a dancer also makes you a better teacher – and a more attractive instructor to prospective students and their parents. In an article on The Dancing Grapevine, continual learning and development is one of the top qualities that dancers and parents look for when selecting a new teacher. The article described “green lights” for teachers as including if they “innovate or take on new dance challenges,” cross-train in other dance styles and train with other teachers often.

A large part of being an effective teacher is empathy – and by being a “student” of your own dance practice, you can relate better to your students.

Summer Study

If you find yourself lamenting lost skills during the slower summer months, don’t despair. In addition to scheduling your own practice time at the studio, there are many other ways you can stay in shape as a teacher.

Dance Information recommended taking time to regularly stretch at home, joining open classes in other dance styles or signing up for a summer intensive. Seek out workshops, seminars and conferences on dance in cities near you. You can also volunteer and perform with a local dance studio or company. Another option is cross-training – check out our article here.

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Ballet Terminology: A Primer

ballet terminology

For new dancers and their parents, ballet terminology can be a bit intimidating. Many of the names for moves and positions are in French – and there’s so many of them! If you or your child’s first dance class has your heads spinning, don’t stress any longer. Read on for a overview of the basic ballet moves in clear English. Don’t worry – you’ll be an expert soon!

The Basic Positions

The five basic positions form the foundation of ballet. They affect how dancers begin and end their leaps, spins, jumps – basically everything! First position is when a dancer stands with her heels touching and both feet turned away from each other – as close to horizontally as possible. For second position, the heels are placed about should-width apart, and the heels are still facing straight out to either side.

Things get a little different with the third, fourth and fifth positions. Third position is when one foot is placed in front of the other, with the midpoint or arch of the back foot touching the heel of the front foot. Fourth position is similar to third, but the front foot is moved forward so the feet are no longer touching at the heel and arch. And finally, fifth position is when the front foot is slid back so that the toes of the back foot touch the heel of the front foot.

It sounds confusing, but it’s easy to grasp after seeing the positions demonstrated a few times. Also, as the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre notes, third position is not very commonly used these days, since the heavy turnout of modern dancers makes it look confusing similar to fifth position.

Turnout

Turnout is not a move, but it is a basic concept essential to understanding ballet. Turnout is when the legs are rotated from the hips so that both the feet and knees are turned outward. It involves a high degree of flexibility and should be used to do nearly all ballet moves.

Developpé

Developpé is when the knee is raised up to the hips, followed by an extension of the leg so that it is held in the air. A dancer can developpé to hip-height, or if they have the requisite flexibility, extend they leg to reach above their head.

Jeté

Jeté means “throwing” or “thrown,” explained Ballet Hub, and is when a dancer leaps forward, leading with one leg, and then lands on the other leg. There are many variations of jetés, some small and quick, some big and dramatic.

Fouetté

Ever been mesmerized by a dancer spinning around and around like a top? What you’re seeing is a fouetté. This move is when the dancer does a pirouette with one leg raised out to the side.

Plié

Another essential ballet movement, a plié is when both knees are bent as a dancer lowers her hips. They can be done in various positions, frequently at the barre.

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Dance Competition Makeup: A Checklist

Competition Makeup

The dressing room before a dance competition is a crazy scene – you and your fellow dancers are abuzz with excitement and your nerves are running high. There’s so much to think about – will you wow the judges and hit every measure of your choreography? With all this excitement going on, the last thing you want is to look in your makeup bag and discover that you left your most important competition makeup at home.

A confident dance performance begins with a confident face, and that starts with the right look. Dance makeup helps the judges and audience tune into the emotional aspects of your performance, whether they’re sitting in the front row or at the back of the theater – and a panicked look because you’re the only one that forgot their lipstick is not the emotion you’re trying to convey.

Instead, prevent cosmetic catastrophes and makeup meltdowns with this handy checklist. The night before your competition, pack all these items in your bag so they’re ready to go the next morning. It doesn’t hurt to run through the competition makeup checklist one last time before running out the door, either.

Dance Competition Makeup Checklist

1. Moisturizer

A smooth, bright complexion starts with hydrated skin, so tote along a hydrating face lotion. Opt for a formula that’s non-greasy and fast-drying, since this means it’ll absorb quickly so you can get onto the next step in your makeup routine.

2. Face Primer

Moisturizer hydrates your face, but primer preps it for foundation, helping your makeup to last through multiple routines and a whole lot of sweat. If you don’t want to feel like your makeup is slowly sliding down your face as you dance, then you definitely need a primer.

3. Eye Primer

You don’t only need primer to help your foundation stay on – it also works wonders on your eyelids to help shadows and liners stay put. Choose a formula specially made for eyes, since the area is extra sensitive.

3. Foundation

Foundation smooths any blemishes, dark marks or shadows on your skin and brightens your complexion so you can put your best face forward. As the Energetiks Blog noted, foundation creates an even and clear base under harsh stage lights. When packing foundation in your bag, double-check the bottle to make sure you have enough left for your competition – bring extra if you think you’ll run out!

4. Concealer

Foundation creates a great base, but concealer is necessary to cover up any particularly pushy blemishes and dark circles under eyes. If you have red spots, you can use a green-colored concealer to counteract them.

5. Foam or Sponge Makeup Blenders

You can have the perfect foundation, but you need a way to apply it. The debate is out about whether it’s better to apply foundation with a brush, sponges or foam blenders – according to Daily Makeover, it’s a matter of personal preference and there are pros to each method. So experiment with what works for you! Just make sure you bring enough blenders along.

6. Contouring product

A powder or cream in a shade slightly darker than your skin color can help define your cheekbones, neck and shoulders and add extra dimension to your face. According to Energetiks, contouring is vital because it prevents your face from looking flat under the lights.

7. Blush

After defining your face with contouring powder or cream, you need to top it all off with blush. Choose a pink shade slightly brighter than what you would normally rock in your day to day life. Cream or powder blushes are both good picks.

8. Eyeshadows

To define your eyes, you’ll need several eyeshadows in a variety of shades. Rhiannon at A Dancer’s Days applies white eyeshadow to her lids first, since this makes the eye stand out. Then, you can top the white with darker browns, grays or purples in the creases and sweep it out toward the brow bone for definition. Since doing your eye makeup involves multiple shades of shadow, it’s worth it to invest in a large shadow palette.

9. Liquid or Gel Eyeliner in Black and White

Liquid or gel eyeliners last longer than their pencil counterparts. White eyeliner can be applied to the waterline to make eyes look bigger, will black eyeliner pressed into the upper and lower lashlines make your eyes and lashes stand out even more and set off your shadow.

10. False Eyelashes

False eyelashes are a must-have for the stage, making your peepers pop. Buy a pack containing extra lashes so you’re covered.

11. Mascara

If you’re wearing fake lashes, you don’t really need mascara, but it can be useful to pack a tube just in case your fake lashes decide to be fussy and won’t stick.

12. Brow powder/pencil

Strong brows are an essential part of your stage look, since they set off the rest of your makeup and define your expressions to the audience. A powder or pencil product will help you fill in any sparseness in your natural brows.

13. Lipstick

Pack a long-wear lipstick product that will last throughout your competition without drying out your lips.

14. Lip Liner

Lipstick isn’t enough – a lip line in a matching shade will define your lips and act as a barrier that will prevent the lipstick from migrating from your lips – and showing up on your teeth when you smile for after-competition photos!

15. Finishing powder or setting spray

A finishing powder or setting spray is the cherry on top of your look that will help your makeup stay put, no matter how much you break a sweat.

16. Handy Extras

It’s smart to pack some useful extras in your makeup bag, too. Bring Q-tips, makeup remover, cotton pads and extra makeup brushes, so you’re prepared for anything.

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Dance Travel Tips: Organizing Transportation to Competitions

dance travel

With competition season upon us, there’s a lot to think about – have your dancers perfected their routines? Do they have their costumes? Have you recruited some volunteers that can help out backstage? However, don’t forget to think about how your dancers will get to the venue in the first place. Organizing dance travel to a competition can seem like one big headache, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow these tips to get you and your dancers to the competition without the stress.

Check Out the Venue Ahead of Time

Prior to the competition, if possible, travel to the venue to familiarize yourself with the best route to take to get there. Also, take a look at the available parking options. This way, you can have a better idea of the best transportation method your dancers and their families should take to get to the venue, whether that’s carpooling, taking a bus or driving.

You’ll also be able to give better instructions on directions and minimize surprises the day of the competition.

If the venue is far enough away that your students and their families will need to stay in hotels, spend some time researching the area online and using Google Maps to identify the best lodging options in the vicinity so you and the parents can plan the necessary accommodation ahead of time.

Organizing a Carpool

Carpooling to the competition is a great way to streamline and simplify transportation. It’s also cost-effective, and is eco-friendly, as Dance Advantage pointed out. Make sure you leave enough time to organize the carpool – a month before the competition should be ample time.

You can use a physical sign-up sheet in the studio, or you could use online sheets or create a private Facebook group for arranging the carpool.

VolunteerSpot recommended creating a permission slip for parents to sign that affirms that the parents are alright with you taking the students out of state, if applicable, and that you have their permission to get the kids medical treatment in the event of an emergency.

In the month leading up to the competition, hold a meeting with parents – or send out an email – that outlines the details of the carpool trip like when and where the car will leave from, the route you will take, when the car will arrive and other pertinent information. Also, make sure you have all the parents’ contact info prior to heading out.

Dance Travel by Bus

While carpooling in one or a few vehicles can be an efficient and cost-effective way to get to the competition venue, factors like the distance to the event and large amounts of equipment or luggage may make renting a bus a better transportation option. Before booking a bus with a private company, make sure you do your due diligence and research.

Texas Meetings & Events magazine recommended that you book a bus early, since you can usually save money by making reservations far ahead of time. You should also have a meeting with a representative from the transportation company and ask them about the company’s insurance coverage, the experience of the drivers and their emergency protocols.

Make sure you consider the itinerary for the day of the competition – should the dancers be dropped off at a designated area near the hotel to meet up with their families first, or should the bus go directly to the competition? Taking the time to figure out the specifics of the trip will help the transportation go more smoothly.

Flying to the Competition

If the competition is several states away or on an opposite coast, it makes sense to fly to the venue. If you have just a few dancers traveling to the competition, it may make sense for each dancer to buy a ticket individually to the same flight, or for the studio to buy a batch of tickets for the dancers all at once and then be reimbursed later.

However, if you have a large group of dancers traveling, it may be a better idea to book the trip through a travel agent. U.S. News and World Report noted that agents can help large groups get discounts for flying together, so spend time looking at your options.

Other considerations include coordinating transportation to the airport, figuring out accommodation and making sure everyone is checked in on time, which is easier to do these days because of mobile apps. If you are using a travel agent, he can help lock down these details.

Also, don’t forget to consider luggage limitations. It can be helpful to give dancers a checklist of what they should bring with them. Pay special consideration to costumes, which should ideally go in carry-on because of the risk that checked luggage could be lost.

As Jayci Kalb from The Dance Centre in Alabama told DanceSpirit Magazine:

“I never pack my costume in my checked luggage. I put it in my carry-on, and it’s the first thing I pack.”

Looking for other dance competition resources? Check out these articles on planning to take your studio to competition:

Dance Competition Dates: Planning a Competitive Schedule

Nutrition for Dancers: What to Eat Before Competitions

Prepare Dancers for 5 Common Dance Competition Crises

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5 High-Energy Snacks to Help You Power Through Your Dance Competitions

5 High-Energy Snacks to Help You Power Through Your Competitions

Dance competitions are a real test of endurance. You often have to drive a ways to the venue, spend time warming up, do multiple performances over several hours. Not to mention that you may have a few competitions packed into just one weekend! To dance at your best, you need to be in tip-top shape physically, and it starts with good nutrition and having some high-energy snacks on hand.

It’s vital that you give your body the energy it needs to dance in peak shape, and this means providing it with fuel throughout the day with healthy snacks designed to keep you on your toes – literally. Balanced snacking before and after your competition helps keep your muscles’ stores of glycogen at their highest levels, which improves your performance, and helps ward off the nasty effects of a low glycemic index, which can cause fatigue, dizziness, muscle weakness and blurred vision, according to Central Washington University’s Department of Sports Nutrition.

Snack Formula

In an ideal world, chocolate bars would provide all the energy we need with none of the sugar, fat or calories! Until scientists engineer some miracle food like that, it’s important to be strategic when putting together your snacks. Avoid white starches and refined sugars, since these give you a quick boost but then make you crash, noted Harvard Medical School. Instead, opt for snacks that contain complex carbohydrates and a small amount of healthy unsaturated fats or protein. Also, steer clear of “power bars” in stores. While these products claim to have the perfect balance of nutrients to boost your energy, many of the claims are just marketing. An Ohio State University study revealed that power bars aren’t any better at giving you sustained energy than candy bars are.

5 Great Snack Ideas for Energy

Try the ideas below to make sure you don’t slack on the snacks.

1. 1/2 Whole Wheat Pita with 1 Tablespoon Peanut Butter

This snack idea from the Boston Ballet will help keep you full throughout your competition. Half a whole wheat pita provides you with energy-boosting complex carbohydrates, in addition to 6 grams of fiber, according to Livestrong.com, and pitas won’t make you feel bloated like regular bread might. The peanut butter contains protein and healthy fats, a winning combo that will help you have the energy to perform at your best. For another great-tasting twist on this snack, try swapping the peanut butter for 2 tablespoons of hummus and a hard-boiled egg.

2. 1/2 Cup Cottage Cheese with 1/2 Sliced Strawberries and 2 Mini Whole-Wheat Bagels

The cottage cheese contains protein and Vitamin D, which is a source of energy, noted Healthsomeness.com, and will keep you full for a long time. Strawberries add a little sweetness without unhealthy sugars and also give you a dose of antioxidants, while mini whole-wheat bagels provide some complex carbohydrates.

trail mixMake your own trail mix with your favorite ingredients and then pack in a bag to take along to competitions.

3. Popcorn

Your Daily Dance recommended that dancers pop a bag of popcorn before they leave the house and tote it with them to the competitions to snack on throughout the day. Popcorn is a fantastic source of whole grains that contains vitamins that help your muscles release and use energy. Mix in a handful of nuts or yogurt-covered raisins with your popcorn for a well-rounded snack.

“Popcorn is a great snack because you get a lot of volume and fiber (which makes you feel full), and it’s a whole grain, so it’s healthier than a snack like pretzels,” said Tara Gidus of the American Dietetic Association in an interview with Fitness magazine.

4. Trail Mix

A bag of trail mix is also great for munching on throughout the day at competitions. Many store-bought trail mixes contain loads of sugar, so it’s a better idea, and more cost-effective to make your own at home. One Green Planet recommended to follow this ratio when putting together your mix: 3 parts nuts to 1 part seeds to 1 part sweet ingredients like dried apricots or raisins. Nuts are a proven energy booster that also contain healthy fats and protein, so choose your favorite nut and get started making your own trail mix.*

5. Sliced Veggies with 1/4 Greek Yogurt Dip

Surprisingly, vegetables contain a high percentage of carbohydrates, according to Livestrong.com, so they’re a great choice for an energy-boosting snack. Pair sliced veggies like carrots, cucumbers, peppers or zucchini with Greek yogurt for a yummy low-fat dip. The Boston Ballet suggested adding a little chopped parsley or chives and lemon juice to the yogurt to spice up the dip.

Snacking Smart

The morning before a competition is always rushed, so don’t leave putting your snacks together to the last minute. If you’re scrambling and forget to bring along any snacks, you’re more likely to be tempted to hit up the vending machine or bake sale to ease your appetite later in the day. The night before the competition, package your snacks in plastic containers and baggies to have them ready to go in the morning, along with any ice packs to keep perishable foods cold. Try to avoid eating snacks that easily spill or stain while wearing your costume, but if you must, make sure you wear a sweatshirt or jacket over it just in case. And finally, remember that snacks don’t replace meals, so be sure to eat balanced meals throughout the day.

*Editor’s note: Be sensitive to the possibility of peanut or tree nut allergies among other dancers. Be sure to consider those with nut allergies when deciding what to bring, and remember that some severe allergies can be triggered by contact with very small amounts of the allergen.

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