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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.


Tips for Effective Group Choreography

Group Choreography

Fitting 30 dancers on one stage might sound impossible. Even if you only have a group of 10 dancers, having them move together seamlessly during a performance can still be a logistical headache. Creating group choreography requires some advanced planning, careful consideration and keen spatial awareness.

You want the audience’s eyes to be on your dancers’ graceful movements and impressive skills – not on how they’re bumping elbows with each other. Follow these tips for creating effective group choreography that wows the crowd.

Identify the Strongest Areas of the Stage

To accommodate a large group of dancers on stage at one time, you need to understand the unique characteristics of each section of the stage itself. The center of the stage attracts the most attention, unsurprisingly, so place any soloists there. However, it’s important to not overuse the center, since the more you use the weaker its visible impact, noted Sandra Cerny Minton in her book, “Choreography: A Basic Approach Using Improvisation.”

Placing dancers downstage is good for intimate sections of group choreography or those that require dancers to be particularly emotional, because the area is closest to the audience. To create a sense of mystery, it’s effective to place dancers upstage. Cerny noted that the areas toward the right and left sides of the stage are comparably weak, though that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be used at all. The key is creatively and effectively using the entirety of the space available to you.

Think Outside the Box

Sometimes, you need to expand your idea of what constitutes the stage. DanceSpirit Magazine described the experiences of Suzi Taylor, choreographer of the New York City Dance Alliance Nationals Senior Outstanding Dancer performance. She had to fit a whopping 145 dancers onstage at one time, and understandably couldn’t do so without having them all constantly bump into each other.

She then came up with the idea to have some of the dancers on the floor in front of the stage. It turned out to be the perfect solution, and she used the space to create unique level changes. Don’t be afraid to get creative in your group choreography or the way that you use the space.

Incorporate Patterns

An article by Dance Advantage provided a list of tips for dance teachers who were tasked with choreographing a musical theater show, and while ballet and performance theater are very different, there are some tips that ballet choreographers can borrow to effectively choreograph large groups of dancers. One valuable tip is to build patterns of movement into your choreography.

According to the article, audiences enjoy watching recurring motifs, and repeating the same group of movements in different places throughout the piece helps keep the audience engaged. Incorporating patterns is also useful because it helps provide structure for the dancers, especially if the rest of the choreography is complex or difficult.

Utilize Creative Devices

When faced with the overwhelming task of choreographing a dance for a large group of students, you may be tempted to have all perform the same movements in synchronization. Unfortunately, though, this is dull for the audience and doesn’t do justice to your dancers’ skill sets. But on the other hand, having every dancer do completely different movements can be dizzying and doesn’t give the audience anything to focus on. A good trick for effectively choreographing a large group of dancers is to take advantage of the myriad of patterns, contrasts and other unique choreographic devices.

Break your dancers into small groups, and have them do complementary movements where they are all doing the same movement but in slightly different ways – for example, one group jetés toward the left while the other jetés toward the right. You can have your dancers do contrasting movements, for example having a few dancers move across the stage quickly while a couple other dancers make slow movements.

Another idea is to include successional movements where a certain skill or movement is quickly performed by each dancer one after another, creating a waterfall- or domino-like effect. You have the power to create a spectacular piece that is full of visional splendor, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different devices.


Should You Do a Group Warm Up Exercise Before Competitions?

warm up exercise

You start each class with a group warm up exercise, which helps prepare the muscles and minds of your students for the practice ahead. Your students expect that each class will begin the same way, and they try to perform the movements in unison with each other. When it comes to competitions, though, this go-to warm up is a little less reliable. Your dancers might travel separately to the competition venue, or maybe there’s limited space, and it ends up that each of your dancers’ stretches on their own, off in a corner or hallway, or in pairs.

While independent stretching before competitions is unproblematic for advanced, experienced dancers, a group warm up exercise before competitions can be incredibly beneficial. Just make sure that you take up as little space as possible and choose a warm-up location that’s away from high-traffic areas.

Boost Performance and Reduce Injury

The main goal of warming up is to raise the body’s temperature by a few degrees, noted Jan Dunn in a post for 4Dancers.org. By increasing body temperature, you lubricate your joints, boost blood flow to your muscles, raise your breathing rate and strengthen your mind-body connection. A warm-up that is not done properly or is insufficient can lead to injury and hurt a dancer’s performance.

Younger or inexperienced dancers likely do not have a thorough understanding of what a correct and effective warm-up entails. By leading a group warm-up with all of your dancers before a competition, you can ensure that each and every one of your students has fully prepared their muscles to perform safely and at their best.

Increase Focus

Nerves are high before a competition, and when a student is off on her own stretching and watching dancers from other studios warm-up, her nerves can jump up even higher.

“Getting engrossed in others’ dancing could make you nervous or subliminally lower your expectations for yourself,” wrote Amy Brandt for Pointe Magazine.

A group warm-up before a competition allows your students to focus on you and each other, and not the dancers they’re competing against. By following your warm-up instructions, they can focus on their own skills and better drown out noisy distractions.

Comprehensive Preparation

An effective warm up exercise routine includes a variety of movements and stretches, and it’s much easier for dancers to forget certain movements if they’re warming up independently. A thorough warm-up involves three stages, passive, general and specific, explained Dance Advantage.

The passive warm-up is simply making gentle movements while wearing legwarmers and other layers to raise body temperature. The general warm-up, which is 5 to 10 minutes of light cardio, is likely the warm-up stage most skipped over by dancers, according to the site. And the specific stage is when unique movements are done to work the main muscle groups that will be taxed during the performance, and includes barre and center work.

A thorough, multi-stage warm-up is the best preparation before a competition.


Dance Choreography for Kids: Teaching Tips

dance choreography for kids

While kindergartners won’t be performing “Giselle” anytime soon, you can teach them the basic building blocks of learning choreography that will set them up for success in and outside of the studio. The key is understanding the developmental stage young children are in and adapting your teaching style to work with this level of learning, not against it. Here are a few tips to use when putting together dance choreography for kids.

Keep It Simple

Kids in or entering kindergarten LOVE to move around and have fun in dance class, but you can’t expect them to always remember extended choreography. Five to six-year-olds have a better grasp on movement than toddlers, but they can’t grasp routines as well as grade school-age children.

As a result of participating in a dance class, students in kindergarten through second grade should be able to copy other people’s shapes and patterns, perform basic elements of dance, such as making a round shape or jumping in a certain direction, and describe dance movements in general terms, according to the book, “Teaching Children Dance.”

Third- through fifth-grade children, on the other hand, should be able to understand various choreographic structures, describe others’ movements using simple dance terms and reproduce choreography with multiple sequences.

Simple, brief choreography that only uses basic movements are best suited to the five- and six-years-old age group, and make sure you break down each step into easy-to-digest elements.

Recognize Rhythm

Young children have to learn not only how to do certain movements, but also how to move in time with music. In this article, Chasta (the creator of DanceExec) breaks down some ideas for rhythm activities to help develop good counting.

Prioritize strengthening your students’ sense of rhythm and their ability to match their movements to different speeds. This approach will better set them up for more advanced classes later on.

Build Repetition into Choreography

Young children need structure to thrive in class, and choreographer Jenny Duffy noted that songs and movement are often used in kindergarten classes to signal when it’s time to transition from one activity to another. She recommended that dance instructors use a similar approach when creating choreography for younger students.

She advised using the same movements during the chorus of a song, which makes it easier for children to learn choreography and also helps them develop musicality.

Reward Students

Positive reinforcement makes all the difference when teaching choreography to younger students. Five to six-year-olds will respond better to praise, and criticism on the way students are doing a certain movement should be used sparingly. As Donna Donna Furmanek wrote in her paper, “Classroom Choreography: Enhancing Learning Through Movement:”

“It is important that teachers acknowledge children’s efforts and participation more often than noting whether or not children are doing the movement correctly.”

“Positive reinforcement makes all the difference.”

A reward system is a great way to boost this positive reinforcement. One dance teacher on Dance.net wrote about how she creates a chart for each student and then gives them sticker or other small prize like a plastic gold medal when they learn a new step.

Focus on Fun

“You shouldn’t expect to teach young children technique,” writes Holly Shaw in a post for 365Dances. Kindergarten-age students are high-energy and are still learning how to move their bodies, so making dance class as fun as possible will be more beneficial for young children in the long run.

“Really what you should be focusing on at this point is the sheer joy of moving and learning their bodies,” says Shaw. “Keep the expectations low.”


Making Creative Movement Lesson Plans

creative movement lesson plans

As any dance teacher who’s worked with young children knows, kids have a boundless supply of energy. Attempts to teach them technique or choreography often end in vain, with aggravated children and an even more frustrated teacher. Young preschool- and kindergarten-age children generally don’t have the attention span or discipline to do barre work or learn correct technique, but this young and energetic age group is perfectly suited to succeed at creative movement. You can take advantage of their energy with creative movement lesson plans.

Creative movement is offered as a class at many dance studios and is designed to introduce children to the idea of expressing themselves through movement. The creative movement lesson plans work with young children’s natural enthusiasm, short attention spans and high energy levels to explore basic concepts of dance and creativity.

There are many benefits of creative movement. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, creative movement aids children’s physical development, teaching them body awareness and control and how to move around in a space. It also encourages them to use their imaginations and become comfortable with expressing themselves.

It helps them grow socially and emotionally, since they must learn to share space with others, and expressing themselves in a myriad of ways – for example, pretending to be a certain animal or acting like a type of weather – helps them recognize that they have a wide range of feelings. Additionally, creative movement classes teach children to be respectful in a class-setting and effectively listen to teachers.

Areas to Cover When Making Creative Movement Lesson Plans

A creative movement class is much more than simply telling students to pretend they are butterflies for 45 minutes and sitting back as they run around the room. The class needs structure and purpose to allow creativity to flourish. Let’s Talk Creative Dance Conversation recommended not staying with one activity for too long, so break up the class into smaller units.

Don’t cluster your activities in one space, either – move around the room. Use visual aids and props to inspire movement, and form your activities so that the kids have choices in the way they move and respond. A dynamic lesson plan will keep kids engaged.

“When you keep it moving, keep it structured, and use student demonstrators, kids stay focused and on task,” wrote Anne Greene Gilbert in a post for the site. “The teacher has control because the students have self-control since they are interested in what is happening.”

NAEYC suggested playing the game “Telephone” but with movement instead of words. Think of a theme for the day or week, and create activities related to that theme – the source gave the example that if your theme is “Spring,” you can have children “dance the making of a garden,” basing their motions off digging holes, watering plants, etc. Give children a prop like scarves and ask them to make their scarves flap like a flag, swim like a fish or float to the floor like a snowflake, suggested Childhood101.

You can also put on a song and ask the kids to move in a way that follows the rhythm and style of the song – for example, put on a fast song and ask them to hop like bunnies, or a slow song and ask them to crawl like cats. This helps them learn how to move with different types of music.

There are countless creative movement resources online. The National Dance Education Organization, ASCD, NAEYC and other associations link materials that will help you craft lesson plans, and creative movement activity ideas are also a popular topic on dance forums.

Teacher Tips

For teachers that are worried their creative movement classes will be more like creative chaos, preparing a structured lesson plan ahead of time reduces this anxiety. ASCD recommended establishing routines that guide your class, for example, doing a warm-up and cool-down and doing individual movement activities first and then moving to partner and group ones. Also, having a recognizable item or sound to signify switches between activities or that the students need to listen, such as a bell or drum, are also very useful.

Exceptional Considerations

Many creative movement activities can be adapted to fit any student, noted NAEYC. For children with special needs, you can modify the activity to accommodate the student’s abilities. For example, a jumping activity can include kids in wheelchairs by having them move their arms or shoulders instead. Or, in an activity where students make a certain letter with their body, special needs students can use a body part like their fingers to form the letter. The source noted that activities where students express the story of a song or book through movement are especially accommodating to children of all skill and needs levels.

Creative movement classes also don’t require expansive studio spaces. If you have a small space, you can do activities where the children stand in one place but jump up and down or wiggle their arms and legs in special ways, and if there are poles or shelves that break up an open space, you can incorporate moving around these obstacles into your activities.


How to Become a Dance Teacher

how to become a dance teacher

If you are a dancer searching for the next step in your career, consider becoming a dance teacher. Switching from student to teacher is one of the biggest leaps you’ll ever make in your dance journey, but it’s also one of the most rewarding. Being a dance teacher requires lots of hard work, passion and resiliency, but if you can commit to making yourself the best teacher you can be, all the inevitable ups and downs you’ll face along the way will be well worth it. Read on for some strategies on how to become a dance teacher.

Benefits of Being a Dance Teacher

Not many people get to do what they love for a living. Granted that living may be small – dance teacher’s salaries are typically modest – but being able to constantly share the love of dance with others is priceless. You won’t have to whittle away the hours at a desk job while your heart yearns to dance, instead, you’ll be dancing and choreographing every day. And one of the few things that makes you feel better than following your own passion is inspiring others to follow theirs, too.

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a dance teacher is seeing your dancers improve. It’s that a-ha moment when a light bulb goes off and a student is finally able to perform a certain skill after months of practice. This rewarding feeling isn’t just limited to skills, though.

Another benefit of being a dance teacher is seeing your students grow personally. You’ll feel joy when you see insecure students gain confidence and shy students make friends. Dance is many things – an art form that inspires, a physical activity that keeps the body healthy and a provider of life lessons – and as a dance teacher, you’re responsible for making it all happen.

Qualities of Good Dance Teachers

Good dance teachers are those that not only have technical expertise but those are able to effectively communicate with students.

“Dancing ability and teaching ability do not go hand in hand,” wrote Rebecca King in a post for her blog, Tendus Under a Palm Tree.

You need to be able to teach just as well as you can dance. Dance teachers must possess a great deal of patience and the ability to stay calm under pressure or in the face of frustration. A certain skill might be second nature to you, but students may need to go over it again and again. They need to be able to pinpoint a specific issue that a student has and then offer constructive criticism that will help them improve.

They must be conscious of the tones they take when criticizing, too. You’ve likely been there before – a few harsh words of criticism that stuck in your memory or caused you to feel defensive. Even though criticism is necessary, we’re only human, so sensitivity is just as important.

Good teachers must also be able to empathize with their students and understand different learning styles and personality types. The stronger teachers can connect with their students, the more powerfully they can nurture a love of dance.

Teachers also have a responsibility to be role models for their students, noted UnityDance.org. Be conscious of your behavior, words and attitude in class, because your students aren’t just looking to you for advice on becoming better dancers – they’re looking to you for advice on what type of person they should be.

Realties to Be Prepared For as a Dance Teacher

With all the rewarding benefits of being a dance teacher, you’re going to face some stressful moments right alongside them. Students, particularly younger ones, will be antsy, distracted and unmotivated some days in class, and you’ll feel like everything you say goes in one ear and out the other. You’ll have to teach multiple age groups, body types and abilities, noted the blog Dance in Real Life, and it’s also physically demanding, with some teachers instructing four or more classes a day.

There will be days you want to stay home and have a break, or times when you wish you had a little more income. But those moments when you see your students’ faces light up as they learn a new skill or finish their first recital will make you forget about all the tough times.

Paths to a Career as a Dance Teacher

There are different ways of becoming a dance teacher, but no matter which path you take, it’s important to gain both teaching expertise and real-world experience. If you are a young student, enrolling in a college degree program in dance education is a great way to get started on your path to becoming a dance teacher, and you should also consider a dual degree in education and dance.

Research the regulations in the area you would like to work in, since many states require that teachers are certified, and even if it’s not required, education certifications will make you a stronger candidate. There are also graduate programs and training workshops that will help prepare you to be a dance teacher.

Look for opportunities to gain real-world teaching experience wherever you can. If you currently dance, ask the studio owner or your teacher if you can work as an assistant, volunteer teacher or intern. Helping out at a studio will give you valuable insight into what being a dance teacher is really like.


Stay-Put Tips for Dance Competition Makeup

dance competition makeup

When dancers are on stage, they need to be focused on their dancing – not distracted by the uneasy feeling of foundation melting off their faces. Dance competition makeup might need to be applied hours before dancers take to the stage, and to perform at their best they need makeup that has just as much endurance as they do. Ensure your dancers’ makeup lasts from the dressing room back to the bathroom at home at the end of the night with these dance competition makeup tips!

Prep the Skin

Just like an artist needs a smooth canvas to paint his masterpiece on, you need to prepare the face before applying makeup. Foundation will adhere better if skin is free of all the grime and oil that’s been collected during the day, so first wash your face with a mild cleanser, advised Paula’s Choice Skincare. Follow up with a gentle exfoliating product to buff away any dry flakes that make the surface of the skin uneven, and finally finish with a light application of moisturizer. Now you’re ready to layer on the cosmetics.

Primer, Everywhere

Primer seals in the glow from your freshly buffed skin, conceals pores and provides a smooth and uniform base for foundation and concealer, making your makeup last longer. You can also choose primers made with antioxidants and nutrients, which is great for keeping skin healthy throughout competition season.

Primer is especially vital, though, in the eye area. Eyeshadows, eyeliner and mascara are notoriously flaky, and you’ve probably applied your eye makeup before only to sigh when you see that the product has migrated under your eyes after just an hour. A primer will make sure that your eye look lasts all day, even under performance pressure.

You can use your face primer on your eyes, but it’s more effective to use a specially made eye primer, since the skin of the eye is oiler and more delicate than that of the rest of the face, noted The Secret Diary of a Makeup Artist.

Foundation and Powder: An Inseparable Bond

The golden rule of stage makeup: Always top foundation with powder. A powder sets foundation and helps it last longer and helps ward off the makeup-ruining effects of sweat and heat. Mode Dion recommended choosing loose powder over pressed and applying it with a large sponge – not a brush – for the strongest set. In addition to helping make your look last, powder also gives you a beautiful glow under harsh lights. Dust on the powder before dabbing on blush, though, because of the next tip …

Primer is also a Blush Booster

A handy little tip from XOVain is to dab a little primer onto cheeks and then rub the blush on top of that. This technique not only makes the color of the blush more intense, but makes it last longer.

Define the Eyes

When it’s time to apply your eye makeup, opt for gel liner instead of liquid or crayon, as it lasts a lot longer and is less likely to smear. Fake lashes will make your eyes pop, too, but don’t hurry the process. For fluffy fake lashes that won’t flutter away mid-pirouette, let the glue sit on your lash line for at least one minute, recommended Mode Dion.

“Gel eyeliner lasts longer than other types and is less likely to smear.”

Lips that Last

A bright red pout looks fantastic on stage, but if you don’t use a matching lip liner, there’s no way the color will stay put throughout your competition. Trace the outside of your lips with the liner and then fill in with color – the liner adheres better than lipstick and acts as a sort of protective barrier that keeps the color in place. Avoid treating the audience to a red-stained smile by smearing petroleum jelly on your teeth before applying the liner and lip stick, too.

Don’t Forget the Setting Spray

You’ve finished your makeup and are looking positively fabulous. Before you step away from the mirror, though, lightly mist a setting spray over your face. The product helps your makeup last through temperature changes and nerves and keeps it from cracking and flaking off. You can find setting spray at any major cosmetics store.


How to Land the Best Dance Teacher Jobs

Finding the best dance teacher jobs requires unwavering dedication, thick skin and a whole lot of passion. To secure a teaching position at a studio where you are not only able to pay the rent but can truly thrive and make the greatest use of your passions, you need to reflect on what you’re really looking for and how you can present the best version of yourself to potential employers.

Read on to learn how to find – and land – the best dance teacher jobs.

What to Look for in a Job

A job should be more than just a way to pay the bills – it should be a way to both learn and grow as a person and dancer and change students’ lives for the better through the power of dance and expression. Only positive work environments can allow this kind of growth. Environments that are too stressful, hurtful or exceedingly negative will only stifle expression and will foster ineffective teachers.

“Great employers must shift the focus from trying to get more out of people, to investing more in them by addressing their four core needs – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual – so they’re freed, fueled and inspired to bring the best of themselves to work every day,” stated the Harvard Business Review.

Dance studios should be no different in this pursuit. When searching for dance teacher jobs, zero in on dance studios that encourage their teachers to continue their own learning and encourage personal and professional development. A truly great dance studio will support its teachers to attend workshops and conferences and evolve in their practices, along with promoting a healthy work-life balance.

Work as an Assistant

No matter where you are in your dance teaching career, working as an assistant teacher is a great way to gain experience and make yourself a stronger candidate for any open dance teacher jobs at the studio. Working as an assistant allows you to receive detailed feedback about your methods and techniques, which helps you improve as a teacher, noted DancetoEvolve.com. Try to get an assistant teaching position at a studio you’d like to work at in a larger role, since many studios use the assistant position to train the next generation of their teachers. An added benefit of this is that you get to become familiar with the environment and unique characteristics of the studio, which makes you an even stronger job candidate.

Preparing for the Interview

Before your job interview, spend time researching the studio and reading its website. Showing that you spent the time learning about the studio will impress the interviewer. As Elizabeth Emery wrote in a post for DanceTeacherFinder.com:

“The bottom line to me was if they were interested in the job then they would take the time to look around the website; if they didn’t, it would make me wonder if they were serious about wanting the job and if they weren’t it would make me worry they would end up quitting in a few months.”

Also take the time to practice answering common interview questions. You’re likely be asked questions such as:

  • Why do you want to work at this studio in particular?
  • What is an example of a conflict that you had with a challenging student or parent, and how did you respond?
  • Why should we hire you for this position?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • What skills do you have to effectively teach different age groups?

Additionally, be prepared to answer questions about your passions. Reflect on why you love dancing, why you want to share it with others and what you hope to accomplish through teaching.

Present Yourself

In dance, presentation is everything, and this is also true during the job application process. Arrive early to the interview and make sure you have copies of any materials you need, such as a headshot, resume, reference list and video reel. Also make sure you’re dressed to impress. Don’t wear a business suit, but dress stylish and professional. For instance, wear a pair of nice dress pants and a flattering top. It’s important to dress in a way that shows you have good taste and an eye for aesthetics, since the job interviewer may use your appearance to gauge which type of performances or costumes you would use in your classes.

After your interview, don’t forget to send a thank you note to the job interviewer, by email or a handwritten note. It’s a small gesture that will go a long way toward making a good impression with the employer. Let’s Talk Dance suggested writing this in your thank you note: “I appreciate you taking the time to interview me, I enjoyed meeting you, and I hope to have the opportunity to make a positive contribution to your organization in the near future.” And even if you don’t get the job, a thank you note is a great way to make yourself memorable and boost your chances of being considered for any dance teacher jobs that come up later on. Make sure you send the note within a few hours of your job interview.

Job Hunting Etiquette

When searching for a new position, always keep in mind proper etiquette. You owe your current opportunities and success to all the people that have helped you and hired you along the way, and the last thing you want to do is burn bridges. If you are currently working at another studio but accept a job offer elsewhere, don’t slack off. Instead, continue giving your current position your all, advised career site Ladders.

“Keep striving for top results and maintain your performance at work … This attitude fueled a more powerful, productive search,” stated the site.

Also, keep in mind that it’s generally poor taste to work at a studio that is a competitor of a place that you have previously trained at. Having a successful career teaching dance is as much about your skills as it is your relationships, and you don’t want to alienate the people who helped get you where you are today.


Dance Teacher Workshops to Sharpen Your Skills

dance teacher workshops

Though most of your time is probably spent inside the studio with your classes, stepping outside to explore your own learning experiences is integral to being a great dance teacher. Expanding your perspectives and skills improves your abilities as a teacher, and, by extension, creates a dynamic classroom environment that fosters growth for your students. By regularly attending dance teacher workshops, you are supporting your own growth and development.

Traveling to dance teacher workshops for a few days takes you out of your element so you can better focus on not only your identity as a teacher, but your artistic identity as a dancer, and this growth in turn benefits your studio.

There are a wide range of dance teacher workshops across the country, so whatever areas you would like to focus on, there’s a workshop for you. Check out our list of some exciting dance teacher workshops being offered in 2016:

Horton Teacher Workshop, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Two four-day sessions of this popular workshop are held in New York City from July 11-22: Introductory/Beginner and Intermediate/Advanced. Attendees are immersed in the Horton dance technique and learn about how to train their students to better adapt to different dance styles and dance with correct body alignment. The workshops are taught by Ana Marie Forsythe, Chair of the Horton Department at the Ailey School and co-author of “The Dance Technique of Lester Horton.” Dance teachers can attend Horton classes at the Ailey School at this program, which emphasizes a hands-on approach to learning. The deadline for registration is June 30, 2016.

Summer Dance Institute for Teachers, Creative Dance Institute

A two-week course held July 18-29 is offered at the Creative Dance Center in Seattle that delves into the philosophy of “brain-compatible teaching,” which explores the connection between cognition and movement. Attendees will learn best practices in dance education methods, improve their management methods and strengthen their understanding and application of the core dance standards. In addition, attendees can take evening classes at the Creative Dance Center free of charge. A discount is offered for registering before May 15.

Annual Teacher Workshop, The Pulse On Tour

The Pulse On Tour and Broadway Dance Teacher present this exciting workshop in New York City, now in its 16th year. The workshop, held July 28-30, provides dance teachers with a wealth of fun learning experiences. Teachers can participate in 55 classes in all dance styles and attend seminars on topics like public relations for the studio, business strategies, choreography labs and finding a unique voice. The workshops also feature industry experts and faculty from The Pulse – some of which have been on TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance and others who have worked at top dance companies.

Dance Teacher Summit, DanceTeacher magazine

Presented by Dance Teacher magazine, the Dance Teacher Summit will be offered on both the East and West coast for the first time ever – it will be held in New York City July 29-31 and Long Beach, CA August 5-7. Created for dance teachers, educators and studio owners, the summit aims to “re-energize [their] passion for the art and the business of teaching dance,” according to the website – and it delivers on this promise through a jam-packed schedule of exciting activities. Learn advanced teaching method and smarter business practices and check out cutting-edge vendors. There’s also a glitzy fashion show promoting the trendiest styles of recital costumes and a cocktail party, along with the A.C.E. Award Competition spotlighting up-and-coming choreographers and online access to educational materials and videos after the summit ends.


Best Barre Exercises to Keep Dancers Fit

Best Barre Exercises to Keep Dancers Fit Off Stage

Many people would consider dance a workout in itself. However, in order to be at your best as a dancer, there’s some preparation required off the stage as well. Some dancers appreciate a good workout to help keep them in shape but also to keep their muscles limber and strong. While everyone has a different workout they prefer, some moves are classic, especially barre exercises.

While there are several different types of barre classes dancers can take to keep in shape, Physique 57 is currently one of the best in the business. Several celebrities have tested out this class, including Chrissy Teigen. The classes are modeled off of the Lotte Berk Method, a tried-and-true method created in the ’50s and used by dancers all over the world. If you’re looking to stay toned and lean off stage, use these moves from Physique 57 to help you stay in shape, according to Dance Spirit magazine.

Have you tested out these barre exercises?

1. The Curtsy

This exercise helps work your thighs, improves your balance and tones your core and back. If you’ve ever done ballet, you know this move pretty well. For this exercise you will need a sturdy chair to use for balance. Begin in plie form in first position. Make sure you feel comfortable, not awkward or strained.

Place your hands on the back of the chair and lean the top part of your body forward, keeping your back straight, until you reach a 45-degree angle. Once you’re in this position, lift your right heel off the floor and slide it to your left side behind your body, so that it aligns with your left shoulder.

Slowly begin to lower yourself to the ground, making sure to keep your hips and your shoulders aligned. Begin to do 30 to 60 pulses in this position, and then switch to the other leg. If you really want to test your strength and your muscles, try this position even lower to the ground.

“Barre classes are modeled off the Lotte Berk Method, used by dancers all over the world.”

2. The Deli Slicer

Even though this workout has a funny name, these moves help tone and strengthen the obliques, gluteus maximus and hamstring muscles. Begin lying down on your right side with your arm stretched upward beneath your head.

Place your left palm on the ground near your chest to help keep yourself balanced. Pull your knees toward your chest until you reach a 90-degree angle. Keeping your legs together, lift your feet off the ground with your knees staying on the floor.

From this position, push your left leg outward until it’s straight. Try to reach as far as you can go without straining yourself. Then bring your leg back in, returning to the initial position. Complete this move 15 times slowly, followed by 20 times quickly. Then switch sides. If you think about the motion of your legs, it should look like a deli slicer.

3. The Superwoman

This exercise is great for the core and can help tone your abdominal muscles. You will need a cushion and a ball to perform this move. Begin sitting on the ground. Place some type of cushion – whether it’s a yoga mat or a pillow – behind your lower back for support.

Once it’s in place, start to lower yourself onto it, making sure to keep your arms, head and neck upright. Place your feet on the ball, keeping your toes pointed forward. Make sure your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle and your arms are outstretched forward.

Inhale inward and place your arms overhead so that your body is entirely on top of the cushion and your legs are completely straight, with your feet still resting on the ball. Return to the initial position.

Repeat this process between 30 and 60 times, depending on your strength. Make sure you don’t sit all the way up on the return, as that won’t work your muscles as strongly.

4. The Pretzel

This exercise helps stretch your hips, strengthen your waistline and tone your gluteus maximus. Start this exercise sitting on the ground, with your left leg at a 90-degree angle in front of you and your right leg at a 90-degree angle behind your back. Try to push your right thigh as far back as it’s willing to go. Place your hands on the floor on either side of your left leg to improve stability.

Tighten your core, point your toes and lift your right leg off the floor and move it up and down between 20 and 30 times, keeping the leg bent at 90 degrees.

Then, repeat the position but extend your leg and keep your foot flat for another 20 to 30 repetitions.


Dance Injuries: 5 Common Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Are You at Risk for These Dance Injuries?

Dancers get injured from time to time. It might be due to an overly rigorous practice schedule, an accidental fall, a nutritional deficit, or some other reason. However, when it does happen, it can be immensely frustrating and poorly timed. Dancers may have a big performance in a few weeks or may be looking to audition for a prestigious dance group. Whatever the event is, dance injuries aren’t fun. Consider these five common dance injuries and how to avoid them.

1. Lumbosacral Injuries

If you aren’t a dancer, you might think dancers most commonly experience injuries involving the ankles, hips and knees. While those areas are commonly affected by dance, the spine is also affected. Most often, dancers deal with lower back issues from the amount of movement they do during practice and performances. According to the Centers for Orthopaedics, most spine injuries for dancers are lumbosacral and involve intense pain. This injury can be caused by poor stability, uneven leg length, bad technique, scoliosis and even high heels. According to Dance Teacher magazine, some dancers may have lordosis, which can cause muscle spasms that make them more vulnerable to spine injuries. Following proper dancing techniques, stretching, and building core, pelvic and hip strength can help dancers avoid this common injury.

2. Snapping Hip Injuries

This injury sounds just like its name. Dancers will hear, and feel, a loud popping noise in their hip as they dance. This snap is the illiotibial band shifting over the upper leg bone and snapping. It can be incredibly painful, but there are usually a few warning signs. Most commonly, this happens when the IT band is too tight and hasn’t been stretched or warmed up properly. It can also be caused by weak muscles on the outside of the hips and lordosis. Dancers can prevent this these dance injuries by toning and strengthening all of the pelvic stabilizers, such as the hip flexors, abductors and and adductors, as well as working on the lower abdominal muscles and the core.

3. Achilles Tendonitis

Some people forget about the Achilles tendon and its importance on the body. It’s the longest tendon and connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. Dancers tend to overuse this muscle, which leads to tendonitis. Usually this injury occurs if dancers experience frequent shin splints or lower their arches during warm ups, such as barre exercises. Overtraining, dancing on a hard floor and lack of stretching can also lead to this injury, which can be immensely painful and debilitating when it occurs.

4. Neck Strain

Many dancers forget about the stress they can put on their necks when they dance. However, a common dancing injury is neck strain, especially for dancers who do a lot of varied choreography. Dancers can prevent from straining their neck by lengthening it and elongating the spine when they move, instead of collapsing it.

5. Rotator Cuff Injuries

Most dances involve plenty of arm movement. If dancers continuously use their arms during practices and performances, they may end up with an overuse rotator cuff injury. This overuse can cause tendons to strain and tear, leading to intense pressure in the shoulders. Teachers should discuss proper form with students as well as the mechanics of movement. If a dancer is able to understand where the scapula is, he or she is less likely to point an arm in that direction.

As with any injury or health issue, please consult your physician. These tips are meant to be informational only, and should never replace the advice of a licensed medical practitioner.


Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Improv Dance Moves

Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Improv Dance Moves

Dance improvising can be a tricky art to master, especially when dancers are starting out. However, once you’ve got certain skills down pat, it will be easy for you to break out improvised moves pretty much anywhere, whether you’re in a street competition or looking to impress people during a dance audition. Have you ever improvised a few dance moves before? If you haven’t, don’t worry. Use these five starter tips to help you improve your improv dance moves anywhere you go.

1. Don’t Be Scared

Most dancers starting improvised dance moves may not know where to begin, especially if they’ve been given complete guidance and structure on how to dance until now. Dancers might be worried that they will look foolish or weird in front of their colleagues. However, it’s just the opposite! Most dancers don’t realize they have natural rhythm and beat from years of practicing choreography. Have fun with it and have confidence. Improvised dancing can be challenging, but it’s a way that allows people to let loose and express themselves. Regardless of what move you come up with, it will have some structure and flow.

Beginning improvised dance is also a great time to get to know your body and find out what kind of dance you really like. You’ll learn how your body naturally moves and what types of dancing you appreciate most, whether it’s modern or old school. If you’ve already done a little choreographing, improv dance will help you become a better teacher. You might come up with a few moves you really like and learn how to be more creative on the fly, allowing for more original dances.

2. Begin With a Frame

When you’re starting out, it’s good to have a little structure in your improvising. If you’re taking a dance improvisation class, it might be focused on one part of dancing, such as fluid movement, dancing gleefully or even working on space. Regardless of what the prompt is, don’t watch others around you. Instead, watch the instructor and listen to yourself. What do you think of when you picture fluidity? How do you express glee? Starting with your own emotions and feelings is a great way to help guide yourself through the process.

3. Go In With An Open Mind

If you enter an improvisation class and feel embarrassed or judgmental from the get-go, it’s not going to go well. You’ll constantly be judging your moves in the mirror or might be too focused on what others in the class are doing instead of what you are expressing. If you act this way, you won’t allow for any creative energy to develop. Only practice improvisation with an open mind and remember that it’s all about having fun.

If you look a little silly, so what? Every move helps guide you toward a better rhythm and motion. Going in with an open mind helps you stay in the moment and move freely instead of thinking about what’s coming next. Once you’re doing this, you’re improvising dance moves! Then you can work on which moves you like and can perfect them.

4. Follow Others, But Not Too Much

If you’re taking a dance improvisation class, your teacher might ask your class to show each other your moves. When this happens, look at other peers in your class and see what moves they’re creating that make their dances interesting and original. Of course, don’t copy these moves yourself, but notice what works within a dance piece and what doesn’t.

Watching others dance may open your mind to new types of dance that you didn’t initially consider in your own set of moves. If you’re really struggling and finding it difficult to create your own segment, perform in front of a few friends and see what they think. You can also watch tutorials and how-to videos on the best ways for improv dance to help inspire you.

5. Go Outside Of Your Comfort Zone

Improv dance is all about exploring new things. If you have a couple of regular moves you always go to, or there’s a certain type of dance you like, leave it at the door. Instead, go outside of your comfort zone and try new types of dance, even if you’re not familiar with them.


5 Money Saving Tips for Dance Moms on a Budget

dance moms

As a dance mom, you’re constantly running around with your dancers making sure they get to practice, are prepared for recitals and have all of the essentials they need to be at their best. In short, it can be exhausting and take up a lot of your time. It can also take up a lot of your money. Between studio fees, the cost of transportation and costume prices, things can add up quickly, and you might not have the money to spend on all these items. So what are dance moms to do? Budget, of course! Consider these five money-saving tips if you’re on a tight budget.

1. Lay out the Costs

The first thing you need to do as a dance mom is determine the cost of each necessary expense. For instance, you might want to lay out the monthly cost of studio tuition, as well as the average costs of shoes, costumes and hair and makeup products. Creating a monthly budget will help keep you on track in the long run and allow you to determine whether certain costs are worth it or need to be cut from the budget. Factor in other bills that you might have, including daily living and housing costs.

You don’t want to be short on your mortgage payment because you splurged somewhere else. Over time, you’ll become mindful of where you should and shouldn’t be spending money, helping you save money as you avoid spending on unnecessary items. With a firm budget in place, you might notice you’ll have money left over each month that can be added to your savings account.

2. Pay Yourself

At the end of the day, it’s important to pay yourself too, according to Dance Moms’ mom Melissa Gisoni. She noted in one money-saving video the importance of saving up when you first are given your paycheck. Her move? Envelopes.

Gisoni will stow away any extra money in envelopes, and then will hide them to avoid spending the money elsewhere. Eventually, the money will add up and can be used toward any extra expenses, such as a last-minute costume or a new pair of dance shoes. This is a good way to force yourself to save money, as you will not think – or see –  the extra money you might have, preventing you from spending it.

3. Don’t Say ‘Yes’ to Your First Option

When shopping for dance, it’s important to not settle for the first item you find. This is especially crucial if you have to buy more expensive costumes through your studio. Look online and compare prices for dance shoes, leotards and other items you might need. Use websites such as RetailMeNot, which gives you the latest coupons and savings on websites.

If you’re really on a tight budget, consider getting gently used dance items from a local dance store, a consignment shop, dance community groups, Craigslist or EBay. You’d be surprised by the quality items you can find through these secondhand retailers. This way, you’ll save money by finding affordable, budget-friendly costumes that prevent you from spending money you might not have.

4. Pay up Front

Your budget may vary from month to month, especially when the holidays and recital week come around. If this is the case, it may be smarter to pay up front, especially when it comes to big payments such as monthly studio membership dues. Find out what financial plans are offered through the studio, and whether they would let you pay the full value up front.

Many dance studios will actually offer parents a discount if they choose to pay in advance.  That way, each month is taken care of without you having to worry about late bills or trying to find the means to pay. Of course, make sure you have the means to cover this payment before going through with it.

5. Plan Ahead

Planning ahead can also help you save a lot of money on dance costs. For instance, if you know your dancer will need new shoes within a few months and you have a little extra money now, buy them and wait to give them to him or her down the road. The same goes for buying other items out of season, which can really help you cut costs as these items might be discounted or more affordable. Anticipating costs down the road can help you plan and make the right decisions now.


Dance Teacher Training: 4 Surprises for New Dance Teachers

dance teacher training

When beginning any new job, you’re bound to make a few mistakes. The same goes for new dance teachers. Even after years of dance practices, routines and recitals, being a teacher for other dancers isn’t easy, and it can definitely difficult at the beginning. If you’re a new dance teacher, you want to make the best impression possible for your new dance studio teacher and your students. While some mistakes are unavoidable, others can be easily stepped past. Here are some tips for dance teacher training and the lessons to be learned from your students!

1. Juggling Too Many Things at Once

When you first become a dance teacher, you may bite off more than you can chew, Discount Dance noted. In some instances, you want to impress your boss so you take on more classes than you can handle, leaving you tired, weary and mistake-prone. It’s important to realize that you can only volunteer for as many classes as you can realistically take on.

It may be smarter to only begin with one or two classes and then add on a few more as you get the hang of things. In other instances, you might be the studio owner and the dance teacher. You may also be the receptionist and the studio cleaner. Taking on too many roles can leave you overwhelmed and cause your business to crumble before it even gets off the ground. If you just opened a dance studio, look into hiring dance students from local colleges as teachers.

2. Short Attention Spans

Sure, there is a lot more to being a dance teacher than just dancing. Any talented dance teacher will tell you that you have to have a passion for teaching at heart. However, though you might have had lectures in school, it’s important to not bring those to dance classes.

Whether you’re teaching young students or an older, advanced class, all students will become bored if they’re listening to a teacher ramble on. After awhile, they might even stop listening, Adventure and Me stated. Though you want to impress your dance students and let them get to know you, talking too much isn’t the right move. Instead, let them get to know you through your dance style and instruction!

3. Different Tones for Different Students

When many dance teachers begin their careers, it can be hard to differentiate the dance levels of students. You may be asked to take on a beginner’s class for adults and an advanced class for children, and it can lead you to potentially talk down to a student. After taking years of dance courses yourself, you may have a hard time understanding what different levels need and what they already know.

From teaching an advanced dancer a commonly known move or expecting a beginner to pick up a routine with very little flaws, these actions can be discouraging for dancers and potentially cause them to leave the class. Every good dance teacher supports her students and knows their exact skill levels, so they never feel out of their league or underwhelmed, Dance Advantage stated.

4. Students Need Repetition

As a dance student, you may have been a skilled learner and had the ability to pick up routines very quickly. Without issue you could get the basic moves down and quickly execute them with precision and grace. As a result, that may be the only style of teaching you’re familiar with.

Some dance teachers tend to rush through a routine with dancers, causing them to be confused and unorganized. As a teacher, it’s important to realize that your dancers aren’t familiar with your style – and pace – of dancing. When going through a routine for the first time, take it slow – your dancers will appreciate it!


Healthy Foods for Dancers: Are Your Students Eating Too Much Sugar?

healthy foods for dancers

If you asked whether your dance students were eating too much sugar, the simple answer would be yes. Research shows that more than 70 percent of Americans consume too much added sugar on a daily basis. So in a class of 10 students, chances are that seven of them eat an unhealthy amount of sweeteners each day – shocking, isn’t it? Read on to find out the significant health risks associated with continued over-consumption of sugar and how this bad eating habit affects dancer nutrition in particular.

“70% of Americans eat too much sugar.”

Health Risks Associated With Sugar Consumption

Most people know that eating too many sugary foods cause weight gain, but there are a number of other health conditions that come along with an unhealthy sweet tooth. A study from the journal JAMA Internal Medicine showed that people who consume 25 percent of their daily calories from sugar are twice as likely to develop serious cardiovascular problems, regardless of whether they are overweight.

Other research has linked sugar consumption to high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol, diabetes, dementia and other health problems.

What Happens When Dancers Overindulge?

Those are some of the long-term consequences that come along with unhealthy eating habits. However, there are also immediate side effects for dancers who drink too much soda or snack on sweets all day.

Dance magazine explained that sugar provides empty calories, and while it may give dancers a temporary energy boost, they’ll have more sustainable levels of energy when they eat complex carbs and protein-packed foods. When your students’ diets are loaded with sugary meals, they may also find it hard to build muscle or stay satiated throughout the day.

All of these factors can hold back an otherwise talented performers, so what’s a dancers to do? Don’t fret! There are simple ways that dancers can slowly decrease their sugar consumption and get into the habit of eating healthy foods for dancers.

Dancers should always choose water over sports drinks or soda.
Dancers should always choose water over sports drinks or soda.

How to Switch to Healthy Foods for Dancers

Cutting sugar consumption down to healthy levels is challenging, as sweets are addicting. However, it’s doable with the right preparation and attitude.

“Dancers should drink water – not soda or sports beverages.”

The first step dancers should take is to stop drinking sugary beverages, which are the largest source of sugar for many Americans. In general, a 20-ounce soft drink contains around 40 or more grams of sugar – more than the daily recommended intake for women. Sports drinks usually contain some beneficial ingredients like electrolytes, but they still often have high sugar levels. Dancers should drink water instead. One way to ease into the change is to use fresh fruit to sweeten the water that they’re sipping on throughout the day.

Next, dancers should identify the times when they’re prone to cravings and be prepared with healthy snacks.

“When people think they’re craving chocolate, they’re actually just craving calories,” Jan Hangen, a consulting nutritionist for the Boston Ballet, explained to Dance magazine. “Because the body is focused on getting food, the mind goes to the foods that give the most pleasure.”

Performers may want to carry fruit, trail mix or whole-wheat crackers to snack on when cravings strike. Eating a number of small meals (after doing some research and finding healthy foods for dancers) every few hours will keep dancers satiated and energized throughout practice and rehearsals.

Finally, many people think that cutting out their favorite treats completely is the best way to adjust their sugar consumption, but this can lead to binging when you have a moment of weakness. Instead, dancers could allow themselves a small treat after a particularly good class. This will make it easier to stay on track and not undo all the process they’ve made.