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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.
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Solve 5 Common Problems When Teaching Preschool Dance Classes

teaching preschool dance classes

The same things that you love about young dancers – their high energy, cute behavior and candid outbursts – can often become the things you struggle with the most during dance class. On good days, you may walk away after teaching preschool dance classes with a big smile and lots of hugs! But on the less-than-perfect days, the hour might as well have been spent herding cats.

Teaching young dancers comes with its own set of challenges, but the good news is that many of these problems are easy to solve. Here are five common problems that you may experience when teaching preschool dance classes and how you can solve them.

1. Making a Scene

According to HealthDay, kids between the ages of 3 and 6 are particularly prone to tantrums, as this is the time when children start to exert their independence. This is also around the same age when young kids enroll in dance classes for the first time. So what’s a teacher to do when an unhappy dancer starts making a scene?

Stacey Schwartz, founder of the Leaping Legs Creative Movement Program, explained on the 4dancers blog that in times like these, it’s essential that dance teachers have good relationships with parents. After all, who knows better how to calm an upset child than her parent? If a dancer has an outburst or tantrum, approach her parent after class and ask for pointers if the situations arises again.

2. Not Paying Attention

Young dancers are easily distracted. Something as simple as a person talking in the waiting room may be enough to make your students lose focus – especially if they’re not engaged to begin with. Dance Advantage explained that you need to be the most interesting thing in the room if you want your students to pay attention. To achieve this goal, you’ll need to keep the energy high throughout class. Play games, try new activities and move on if something’s falling short.

3. Fussing Over Props

One poster on a Dance.net forum expressed her frustration that her young students constantly fuss over props. She got to the point where she avoided using them in class because she knew the students would fight over getting the color they wanted or some other trivial factor.

It definitely makes it hard to teach when students argue over who gets the pink bean bag. There are two solutions you can try. The first is to pick props that are all the same – no color, size or pattern variations. The other, as suggested by Dance.net members, is to adopt the maxim “You get what you get, and you don’t get upset!”

4. Talking Back

Students who are wielding their newfound independence often talk back. You probably won’t get anything rude or offensive with young kids, but you’ll certainly encounter resistance to instructions or discipline. Education World explained that the key rule when dealing with backtalk is to simply not respond. You’ll get further simply waiting in silence for the student to comply than arguing with the dancer.

5. Not Retaining Lessons

It’s certainly frustrating when you spend 15 minutes working on plies, only to have your students forget everything they learned by the next class. However, keep in mind that your students are new to dance, and that the best way for them to learn is by repetition. Don’t be afraid to try new activities and games to mix things up, but make sure you’re reviewing essential skills often. This will help your little dancers retain the techniques that they’ll need to advance in their dance careers.

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How to Write a Killer Dance Resume

If you’re going to pursue a professional career in dance, then you’re going to need an impressive dance resume. This document is a tool that will help you land auditions, impress directors and get discovered, so you need to make sure it’s as perfect as can be.

Basic Information

As with a normal CV, your dance resume needs a header that outlines your personal information. This includes your full name, phone number, email and address. Dance Spirit magazine also recommended that you include your date of birth, height and weight in your header.

Training

Writing up your header is the easy part! Next, you’ll need to outline any and all dance training that you’ve received. In this section, you’ll want to list any schools, colleges, intensives, camps or conservatories that you’ve attended. Include the years you were there, the classes you took and what skill level you attained. When you’re listing training, start with the most recent experience and work in reverse chronological order.

If you have a lot of different training, feel free to leave out unrelated experiences. So if you’re auditioning for a professional ballet company, it’s more important to list a ballet-focused summer intensive than the musical theater camp you attended in high school.

Experience and Performances

Next up on your dance resume should be any professional experience and performances. Include any companies or groups you were part of, as well as any commercials, music videos or shows you were in. Dance Spirit suggested that you include the name of the choreographer and the role you played in shows. However, make sure to format show titles correctly.

If you’re just starting out as a professional dancer, this area might be a bit sparse. While no one likes to have an empty resume, you don’t need to list your recital performances just to take up space. List relevant experience only – if you’re low on items, you can include more details or simply fill out your resume in other sections.

This is also a good place to list any teaching or choreographing experience you may have. If you’ve been a teacher’s assistant or led a preschool class, feel free to include it! However, if your experience is extensive – more than one or two items – you may want to create a separate section for it.

Accolades

It’s one thing to dance, but it’s another to have received acclaim for your performances. You’ll stand out from other candidates if you include an accolades or awards section on your professional resume. There’s no need to list every competition you’ve ever competed in, but highlight your most impressive accomplishments. So first place for your solo at a regional competition is a good item to include, while first place at your school talent show can be left out.

Special Skills

Another way that you can make yourself more appealing to those reviewing your resume is to list your special skills. What can this include? Here are a few skills worth noting:

  • Fluency in a second language
  • Tumbling skills
  • Improvisation
  • Partnering
  • Other related sports, such as figure skating or yoga.

Remember to keep these points relevant to the position you’re applying for – don’t jot down anything that pops into your head just to take up space.

General Resume Tips

Once you’ve written up your resume, take a few more minutes to ensure it’s eye-catching with these tips:

  • Be consistent when formatting the size, font and spacing.
  • Keep your resume to one page if possible.
  • Don’t forget to attach a professional headshot.
  • Leave off references unless specifically requested.
  • Double- and triple-check your spelling and grammar.
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Summer Dance Intensives: How Dancers Can Make the Most of Them

Summer dance intensives

If you run a pre-professional dance school, chances are that some of your budding ballerinas will soon be heading off to one of the many summer dance intensives. It’s an experience that’s often invaluable for dancers when it comes to honing skills, building influential relationships and becoming all-around better performers.

Before your students ship off to their summer dance intensives, give them some advice on how to make the most of their time.

Keep a Positive Attitude

Half the battle of having a good time at a summer intensive is keeping a positive attitude. If your students go into the program worried, wary or above it all, they probably won’t get as much from the experience.

Coach your dancers on how to keep an open mind when it comes to summer classes, meeting new people and taking constructive criticism. These skills will all come in handy when they enter the world of professional dance.

A positive attitude is essential during summer programs. A positive attitude is essential during summer programs.

Write It All Down

One way that dancers can retain everything they learn over the course of an intensive is to keep a journal. When they write down notes after each class, jot down tips and tricks shared by experts and document contact information of new friends, they’ll be able to refer back to their experiences later.

If you want to send your students off with a special journal, consider purchasing some inexpensive notebooks with your studio logo on the front! It’s a small gesture that will mean a lot to your dedicated dancers.

Don’t Only Focus on Skills

Yes, summer dance intensives are great places to learn new skills and techniques, but that’s not all these programs offer. Explain to your students that the relationships they make during the summer can serve them throughout their careers. Networking with instructors and other students is an important part of the intensive experience, so don’t neglect it!

Dance Spirit magazine offered some tips on how students can build and maintain friendships while they’re away from home.

When your dancers follow these tips, their first summer intensive experience will be especially great and they’ll be ready and willing to go back in years to come.

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Acro Skills: 5 Tips to Improve Your Spotting Ability

Acro Skills

If you offer acro-dance or tumbling at your studio, you know the importance of spotting your dancers (and we’re not talking turning technique…at least not in this article). Sometimes even a simple trick can go awry, and it’s essential that you’re there to prevent students from hurting themselves while the learn acro skills or other potentially dangerous moves.

Even if you’re experienced with teaching tumbling, there are likely ways that you can become a better spotter. Here are five tips to improve your technique and keep your dancers safe.

1. Adjust Your Position Accordingly

You likely have one position that’s your go-to for spotting. The most common stances are kneeling on one knee or standing alongside the student. However, you shouldn’t be using the same position for every single dancer. Cheerleading Central explained that you’ll have to adjust your position based on the dancer’s size and experience level.

2. Spot with Your Whole Body

Another way you can improve your spotting abilities is to use your whole body during the process. Not only will this benefit your dancers, but it will save your arms and back in the long run. If you’re only using your upper torso to hoist students, you’re increasing the chance of being knocked off-balance and putting significant stress on your own body. Instead, use a proper squat stance and always brace your spine.

3. Always Wear Shoes

If you’re teaching a hybrid class, you may ditch your shoes from time-to-time when you need to demonstrate a tricky combination or step. However, don’t start spotting any tumblers until your shoes are back on and securely tied. You need optimal traction to safely spot your students, so it’s best to wear shoes to anchor your stance.

4. Alternate Sides Regularly

This tip is more for you than for your dancers. Hybrid Perspective explained that when you’re able to spot with both arms, you can prevent overuse on the dominant side of your body. Start working on ambidextrousness with simple tricks, like walkovers and backbends.

5. Condition When You Can

If you’re going to be hoisting and catching 100-pound athletes, it goes without saying that you need to keep yourself in pretty good shape. While you probably have a long list of tasks to complete each day, it’s a good idea to fit in a little time for conditioning. When you keep your body in shape, it will make spotting easier, reduce the chance of you getting hurt and allow your students to get the best education possible.

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Flexibility for Dancers: How to Safely Improve

Flexibility for Dancers

There are many reasons that dancers seek to improve their flexibility. Maybe they’re just starting out and want to do their first split. Or sometimes more advanced students need a greater range of flexibility to nail complicated tricks. Whatever students’ motivations may be, dance instructors should be able to provide sound advice on how dancers can safely improve flexibility. Here are some tips on flexibility for dancers to share with your performers.

“Work to gradually increase flexibility.”

Why Safety is Key

It’s essential that dance teachers show their students safe ways to increase flexibility because there are so many “quick fixes” on the Internet. Students who want to quickly elongate their muscles often turn to dangerous and extreme stretching methods, which can hurt their bodies in the long run. Explain to your students the consequences of improper stretching methods and work with them to gradually improve flexibility.

Always Warm Up

Young students may be tempted to jump right into difficult stretches, but cold muscles aren’t going to be limber. If dancers want to see results and avoid injuries, they should always start their stretching sessions by warming up with a few cardio exercises and then ease themselves into the pose.

In the video below, Virginia from Encore Gymnastics shows how students can gradually improve their splits, starting with light stretches on the front and back legs.

Proper Technique

As Virginia points out in the video, proper form is key when it comes to an effective stretch. For this reason, dancers should focus on maintaining good body posture while stretching.

Students also need to be thinking about how often they’re stretching and for how long. Leigh Heflin, who works at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at NYU Langone Medical Center, explained to Dance Teacher magazine that different people will need to stretch more often, depending on their body’s natural predisposition. Dancers who are a little more limber might only need to stretch three times each week, where less-flexible students would benefit from five sessions.

Have your students work together to gradually improve flexibility.
Have your students work together to gradually improve flexibility.

It’s also important for students to slowly increase their stretching. Dancers shouldn’t try to “overstretch,” as demonstrated in the video, until their bodies are ready.

“You have to progressively overload that capacity on your muscle,” Heflin noted. “Increase tension and stretch every week. You can’t expect to be there right away.”

The International Association for Dance Medicine and Science recommended that students aim for three to five reps of 30-second static stretches per session. This will help stretch the muscle tissue at a safe, progressive rate.

Flexibility No No’s

In addition to providing dancers with these helpful pointers, teachers should explain to their students what not to do when stretching. Here are some don’ts when it comes to flexibility for dancers:

  • Don’t stretch too much before a performance, as this can reduce your ability to jump.
  • Avoid prolonged stretches, which are held for 20 minutes or more.
  • Don’t push through sharp, searing or severe pain.
  • Dynamic and static stretching are preferable to ballistic stretches. Bouncing or jerking your muscles can lead to injury.
  • If your muscles are particularly tight, use a foam roller on them instead of stretching further.
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Super Food for Dancers: 4 Great Choices

Super food for Dancers

It may seem as though you hear about a new “superfood” every week. Whether the buzz is about kale, quinoa or kefir, there are always people claiming they’ve found the next best thing since sliced bread. While some foods are heralded for the wrong reasons, there are a number of nutritious superfoods that can be beneficial to dancers. Performers are notoriously busy and expend a lot of energy each day, so it’s essential that they get optimal nutrients from the foods they’re eating. Whether you’re a dance student or instructor, try these choices – each a super food for dancers that will keep you fueled throughout your craziest days.

1. Almond butter

Peanut butter is a go-to for many athletes in need of an energy boost, but this related product is an even better option. Dance Spirit magazine explained that almond butter contains a lot of protein, monounsaturated fat and minerals. It trumps peanut butter with it’s 9 milligrams of iron and almost 700 mg of calcium per serving.

You can eat almond butter in the same ways you would any other nut butter. Spread it on a sandwich with fresh fruit preserves for a nutritious and energizing lunch, or dip slices of apples into it for a snack after rehearsal.

2. Sweet potatoes

Carbohydrates are one of the best sources of energy for athletes, but it’s important to choose complex foods that contain other vitamins and minerals as well as carbs. The Women’s Sports Foundation explained that sweet potatoes are a great option for dancers, as these orange spuds contain tons of vitamins A, C and B-6, as well as significant amounts of potassium and manganese.

One of the easiest ways to enjoy sweet potatoes is as a baked side dish. Scrub down your spuds, pierce them with a fork a few times, then bake them for 45-60 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This should leave you with tender, delicious potatoes that taste great alongside chicken, steak or another protein-packed entree.

3. Celery

Many athletes know that they lose electrolytes when they sweat, and if these nutrients aren’t replaced, it can lead to muscle spasms and cramps. You may be tempted to down an energy drink to get your fill of electrolytes, but celery is an all-natural option that provides the same benefits. These stalks contain plenty of potassium and sodium, as well as other important nutrients.

“Celery can help during long practices and rehearsals,” Ally Wagner, a nutritionist who works with the Cincinnati Ballet, explained to Dance magazine. “It’s also high in fiber and vitamin K and low in calories.”

Throw back to your childhood and create “ants on a log” with celery sticks, almond butter and raisins! It’s a fun, tasty and healthy snack that will help you power through practice.

4. Goji berries

You probably don’t have this ingredient in your pantry, but it’s worth picking up a package the next time you’re at the store. Goji berries are rich in vitamin A, C and iron. Dance Spirit magazine also noted that the tart berries contain betaine, which may help calm nerves and promote muscle growth. These properties are what make the ingredient popular for athletes.

Incorporate this superfood into your diet by eating goji berries mixed with Greek yogurt as a mid-afternoon snack. This makes for a well-balanced mini meal with plenty of calcium and protein. You can also find goji berries covered in chocolate, but opt for dark chocolate varieties, as this sweet covering contains beneficial antioxidants. Don’t overindulge in chocolaty berries, however, as too much sugar can lead to a mid-rehearsal slump.

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Cross-Training for Dancers: Keeping Active During the Summer

Cross-Training for Dancers

Rest and relaxation may be tempting during the warm weather, but dance students who are serious about staying in shape and being ready to excel come fall need to stay active to maintain their muscle tone, flexibility and endurance. Here are some tips on cross-training for dancers that studio owners and dance teachers can pass onto their students.

“Summertime indulgences can set dancers back.”

Benefits of Cross-Training for Dancers

If students are going to truly commit to cross-training, they need to understand its importance. One of the big benefits of cross-training during the summer is that it will help dancers stay in shape. Week after week of lounging around the house, hanging at the pool and indulging at summertime cookouts can set dancers back if they don’t keep up their activity levels. Dedicated students should be working to maintain muscle strength and flexibility while also improving trouble areas.

While these short-term goals are important, there are also some bigger benefits of cross-training for dancers. Students who are consistently engaging in activities outside the studio often are less prone to injuries and can push past training obstacles faster than dance-focused peers.

Activity Options for Dancers

So does this mean your students should spend their vacations in the gym? Not at all! There are many different methods of cross-training that will appeal to even the most reluctant dancers. David Popoli, M.D., a primary care sports medicine physician from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, explains that there are activities that allow dancers to express their artistic side while still giving them a great workout.

Yoga and Pilates

As Popoli mentioned, yoga and Pilates are great summertime activities for dancers. These low-impact activities will help students improve their flexibility, control their breathing and target specific muscle groups. You may want to see if a group of your dedicated dancers are willing to take a yoga class in the studio over the summer – hosting an instructor is a great way to bring in a little extra revenue during the slow season.

Weight Training

Another viable option is weight training. Many females are hesitant to lift weights, as they don’t want to end up with big bulky muscles. However, when done correctly, weight training can be extremely beneficial to dancers.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about weight training,” Emery Hill, athletic trainer at Houston Ballet, explained to Dance Spirit magazine. “People think that if you lift weights, you’ll get big musculature. But it can be very beneficial as far as being able to lift or be lifted, or to hold your position, because you have more basic strength.”

Encourage your dancers to work on their cores, biceps and legs by lifting weights. Three sets of each exercise with eight to 10 reps is the perfect amount to keep them looking long and lean while still building up strength.

Swimming is a great way to improve endurance while beating the heat.
Swimming is a great way to improve endurance while beating the heat.

Summer Sports

When the weather is simply too nice to stay inside, dancers can continue their training with outdoor sports. Students who want a full-body workout can try swimming laps at their local pool. This activity doesn’t put any pressure on the joints, but it can really get your heart pumping, helping improve endurance.

Biking is a good choice for dancers who want to build up their leg strength. Encourage your students to ride in low-resistance areas – like flat stretches of land – so their leg muscles stay trim.

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5 Benefits of Practicing Dance Improvisation

Dance improvisation

Most dance classes are filled with structured lessons about different skills, techniques, tricks and combinations. After all, these are the aspects that make up a great performance. However, you may want to consider incorporating a little bit of dance improvisation into your classes – even if your students balk when you mention it.

“Almost every student I’ve ever had has been terrified,” Chloe Arnold, director of DC Tap Fest and her company, Syncopated Ladies, told Dance Teacher magazine. “[Improvisation] is scary, but once you give it a try, you realize it’s the best thing that ever happened.”

Here are five noteworthy benefits of taking a less-than-structured approach to dance class.

1. Boost Confidence

If your students are only comfortable in predetermined steps and combinations, they’ll likely be insecure when it comes to improvisation. However, pushing through this fear and letting their bodies guide them can often serve as a huge confidence-booster. Improv exercises can also help alleviate fears that your dancers may have about making mistakes. When they’re making up steps on the fly, there’s no “right” and “wrong.” Instead, it’s just about being confident and creative while having fun.

2. Encourage Self-Discovery

Sometimes stepping outside of their comfort zones can help students discover who they are as performers. It’s impossible for dancers to grow if they’re constantly held inside a box, so encourage your performers to spread their wings. Maybe a few improvisation sessions will inspire your students to take up choreography or pursue a few classes in modern dance. When students aren’t solely focused on learning your steps, their minds will be open to all the possibilities that dance offers them.

3. Improve Musicality

It can be hard to teach dancers about musicality, as the skill is multi-faceted and complicated to explain. However, when words are failing you, sometimes a little improvisation can help demonstrate what this quality is all about. Incorporate free-style dance into your lessons about musicality. Have your dancers feel the music and let it guide their steps. It may seem awkward at first, but encourage your students to take it seriously – no giggling – and soon they’ll understand what you mean about connecting their movements with the music.

4. Aid Performance Recovery

There are times in every performer’s career when she misses a step or falls during a trick. These moments are embarrassing for any level of dancer, but what sets the pros apart from the beginners is how they recover. Many times young performers will freeze after making a mistake. The Dance In Progress blog explained that working on improv can often help dancers recover from mid-performance mishaps more quickly. When they’re used to going with the flow, they’ll be able to turn a trip into a graceful turn, then get right back into performance. Many times, the audience won’t even notice the misstep if the dancer recovers fluidly.

5. Inspire Choreography

Choreographer’s block is all too real, and sometimes you might find that your recital pieces are a bit lackluster. When this happens, you may be able to break free of your inspiration rut with a fun, free-flowing inprov session. Let your dancers have a free eight count in spots where you can’t find appropriate steps, and see what they come up with. Your students may lend that bit of creativity and passion the piece was missing. For older students, you can even hold a light-hearted competition to see which dancer or team can come up with the best opening sequence.

As you can see, both dance teachers and students can benefit from incorporating improvisation into practice. It helps everyone to think outside the box and continue growing as performers.

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How To Improve Posture in Dance: 5 Ways

How to Improve Posture in Dance

Nothing ruins the beautiful lines of a ballerina than slumping shoulders. However, studies have shown that up to 40 percent of kids have poor posture, whether as a result of heavy backpacks, too much TV time or just a general disposition toward slouching. As you teach your young dancers, it’s essential that you work with them to maintain proper posture. Not only will this help them to appear graceful and elegant, but it will also mitigate their risk of back injury. Here are five suggestions on how to improve posture in dance.

1. Use a Visual

Many dancers need to see concepts demonstrated to fully understand them, which is why instructors are always dancing along with their students. The same principle holds true with learning proper posture.

“Most dancers learn visually, so they’ll try to mimic proper body position, but often they don’t understand the roots of where it’s coming from,” Chelsie Hightower, a performer on “Dancing with The Stars,” explained to Dance Spirit.

For this reason, it’s often helpful to show your students pictures or videos of proper posture. You may want to consider showing them an old recital video where a few dancers had really good posture and others were slouching. Another option is to use a TV episode, like one from “DWTS” or “Dance Moms,” where the dancers worked on posture.

2. Stretch it Out

One way to effectively and safely realign trouble areas is stretching. Search the Internet for corrective stretches, or use these ones suggested by Best Health magazine:

  • Chest and shoulder stretch: This activity is often helpful for dancers who slump forward. Have them lie on their backs with their arms stretched outward and elbows bent into a bench-press position. Instruct your dancers to squeeze their shoulder blades together without arching their backs. Hold the position for 10 seconds, and repeat 4 times.
  • Butt bridge: Another area of the body that can get misaligned is the hips. To help dancers strengthen their mid-section, ask them to lie on their backs with their knees bent and feet on the floor. Have them squeeze their butts and push their hips toward the ceiling. Hold this position for 10 seconds, and repeat four times.

3. Try Core Exercises

Exercises that strengthen the abdominal muscles can also help to improve posture. You may want to work a few Pilates exercises into your classes. These can be as simple as a few sets of crunches, but they can go a long way toward straightening out dancers’ lines.

4. Help from Props

On a Dance.net forum, some dance teachers explained that they work on posture during class by using props. A small ball or bean bag can serve as a physical reminder for dancers to keep their arms straight or shoulders back. Get creative with your use of props for a fun lesson that will work wonders for your slouchers.

5. Practice Makes Perfect

Unfortunately, your dancers will continue to struggle with their posture if they forget about it the minute the leave the studio. Holding yourself upright is a full-time job, and they’ll need to be conscious of their posture throughout the day if they want to improve their dance skills. Brainstorm ways that your students can remind themselves to sit up straight in class, stop slouching in front of the TV and relax those shoulders during meals. Maybe they can set a reminder on their phones or enlist a friend to monitor their position throughout the day.

If your dancers follow these five easy steps, they’ll be on their way toward more elegant lines, straighter arms and over-all better technique.

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Assistant Dance Teacher: Pros and Cons

Assistant Dance Teacher

If your beginner dance classes are growing in size but you’re not ready to bring on another instructor, you may be considering asking one of your older, trusted students to become an assistant dance teacher. It’s a common practice throughout the industry to have older dancers assist in preschool and beginner classes to keep kids focused and complete certain administrative tasks.

However, just like with any other business decision, there are both pros and cons of bringing on assistants to help out in your classes. Here are some of the considerations you should take into account when you’re thinking about creating this new role in your studio.

Pro: They’re a Big Help

The most obvious benefit of having an assistant dance teacher is the relief he or she can provide an overburdened instructor. Dance Advantage explained that assistants are frequently responsible for taking attendance, escorting students to the bathroom, handing out props, leading warm ups, keeping kids focused and answering basic parent inquiries. Naturally, these duties will vary between studios depending on what your teachers need help with. More advanced students sometimes also aid in correcting dancers’ form and technique during class, but it’s important that you keep in mind that an assistant’s duties should be directly related to his or her compensation.

Con: You’ll Need to Compensate Assistants

You may think that teaching assistants are the way to go if you don’t have the funds to hire another instructor, but you shouldn’t assume students will work for free. The Dance Teacher blog explained that while many studios don’t pay students monetarily, they implement some other form of payment to compensate assistants. This could be with free lessons, reduced tuition, free merchandise or even just a weekly stipend. Before you start recruiting students to be assistants, make sure you figure out what you’re willing to offer in return for their services.

Pro: The Role Benefits Students

Having an assistant dance teacher in the classroom is a big help to teachers and studio owners. Dance Studio Life noted that teacher’s assistants are able to develop leadership skills, get experience working with children, improve their own dance knowledge and build up their resumes. The role may be especially helpful for students who are considering pursuing a career as a dance instructor, as it shows them what life is like on the other side of the classroom.

Con: They’ll Need Training

The students you recruit as assistants may be eager and ready to take on their new responsibilities, but chances are that they’ll need a fair bit of training. Most students will be a little awkward in their first few months of assisting, and you’ll be able to get them comfortable more quickly if you have some sort of training system. This will require some work on your part before your teaching assistants are living up to their full potential.

Pro: It Can Be a Great Selling Point

If you’re looking for ways to set your studio apart from competitors, having a helping hand in each classroom is definitely a selling point. Once you have training and capable assistants, you can explain to prospective parents that students get as much individual attention as they need and won’t feel lost if they’re ever in a large class. It may seem like a small difference, but it can really be significant when you’re located in an area with a saturated dance market.

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How to Write a Dance Teacher Resume

When you’re looking for a position as a dance instructor, it’s important to have a polished, accurate dance teacher resume to send to studio owners. Chances are that your experience won’t fit perfectly into a typical resume template, so it can be a bit confusing to write the document in a way that makes sense. Here are a few strategies to put together a dance teacher resume that puts your best foot forward.

What to Include

Resumes generally have sections for education and work experience, but there are a number of other categories that you’ll probably want to include on yours. Here are the sections that your resume should include.

  • Your contact information: At the top of the document, you should insert your name, address, phone number, email address and any other relevant contact information. Make sure that your email address is professional.
  • Education: If you studied dance in college or have any other formal dance education, put this section toward the top of your resume.
  • Dance training: Some teachers may not have studied dance in school, but have lots of dance training instead. In this case, you may want to put your education toward the bottom of your resume and include a section on dance training toward the top.
  • Teaching experience: This is the equivalent section to job experience on a business resume. Here, you’ll want to list any experience you have instructing dancers, whether it’s at another studio, as part of a volunteer opportunity or as a teaching assistant.
  • Performance Roles: Chasta Hamilton Calhoun of The Dance Exec says, “Certainly include relevant, recent performance information, particularly if it is at a professional level. I believe that all professional experience—performance, directorial, and choreographic is important to share. Listing experience shows how a dancer chooses to spend his/her time, and it also is indicative of responsibility, accountability, personal skill set, and time management.”
  • Awards: If you’ve racked up some impressive achievements throughout your dance career, don’t be afraid to brag a little bit. You can include a brief section on awards and accomplishments if you have extra space.
  • Memberships and affiliations: You may have relationships with teaching and/or dance organizations that would be beneficial to mention. Be sure to include them, since they underscore your dedication as a dance professional. If you are not a member of any such organizations, it may be worth checking them out. Many organizations offer educational experiences that could help you grow as an instructor.

Relatively inexperienced dance instructors might feel as though their resumes are a bit bare. If you want to add more information to your dance teacher resume, just be sure that it is relevant to the job you’re applying to. You may want to include a skills section where you list other ways you could contribute to the studio. This could include proficiency in a foreign language, experience with bookkeeping or even a CPR or first-aid certification.

Customize for the Job

A resume customized for the position you are seeking is a best practice in any industry. It’s also important to recognize that even among dance-related jobs, your approach should differ. For example, a resume geared towards a teaching position should not be exactly the same as those aimed at landing a performance role. Of the varying types, Calhoun says, “In many ways, the two are very similar; however, the difference lies in the fact that a dance job resume requires industrial-based standards, whereas a dance education resume should blend a more professional approach in its presentation. With any resume, it is important to customize it to the applicable job. As you accomplish more, you will have more to include, and it is important to highlight only the most important, applicable bullet points in order to be concise, representative, and competitive in the pool of applicants.”

General Tips and Tricks

Once you have the necessary information nicely formatted, go through and examine your dance teacher resume using general recommendations as your guide. Keep these suggestions in mind:

  • Try to keep your dance teacher resume to one page when printed.
  • Don’t overly embellish the design or layout – steer clear of pictures and fancy fonts.
  • Don’t ever lie about or exaggerate your experience.
  • Proofread your resume thoroughly, then have someone else do the same.

Consider an Online Resume

Creating a personal resume website is easier than ever, and is a great fit for showcasing your personality and expertise in a creative field. As Workfolio’s Charley Pooley says, “A website gives you creative freedom to express your personality in ways that are not possible through your resume.”

In addition to the standard information you’d include on a printed resume, going digital allows you to add videos and pictures that illustrate your teaching style and experience. If you go this route, make sure to obtain a video/image release from those who are included, or consider staging a class with those who have signed a release.

Not only are personal websites more visual that printed resumes, they are more visible as well. In a recent survey by Domain.me, more than 70 percent of job applicants believe that hiring managers review their online presence before making a hiring decision. Present the information that you want the world to see, and help make your first impression a good one!

Editor’s note: Additional content has been added to this article in order to provide readers with more in-depth resume advice.

 

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When is it Too Late to Start Dancing?

When Is It Too Late to Start Dancing?

As a studio owner, you probably hear one burning question each year during registration: “When is it too late to start dancing?” Because it’s such an important and prominent question in the dance industry, there are ample blog posts, forums and articles dedicated solely to the topic. The answer from experts and amateurs alike is that it’s never too late to start pursuing a passion for dance! That said, late starters should also have realistic expectations about how fast and far they can progress as dancers.

Too Little, Too Late?

Many dancers put on their leotards as soon as they begin to walk. Sometimes the calling is simply undeniable, and keen parents enroll these children in dance classes as early as preschool. The prowess of lifelong dancers often deters older students, who believe they would never be able to catch up to the same level of skill. However, this notion is extremely misguided, as you’re never too old to follow your dreams! Whether it’s a teenager or middle-aged adult asking about dance classes, let them know that there are notable physical benefits to taking up dance at any age, and with patience and dedication, they will likely achieve their goals. However, it’s important to be realistic about expectations. Pointe Perfect noted that while there’s no “cutoff age” for professional dancers, it’s unlikely that an adult who has limited time to practice will be able to catch up with students who have dedicated their lives to dancing. Explain to inquirers that even if they may never make it to the professional level, that doesn’t mean they can’t compete in national events, become an inspiration to others and have a whole lot of fun while dancing!

Success Knows No Age

While the odds of a late bloomer making it to a professional level are low, it does happen from time to time. Imagine if someone had told Misty Copeland that she was too old to start ballet class at 13? The world would have missed out on a trailblazing icon who serves as an inspiration to dancers around the world. There are a number of other unconventional success stories that demonstrate that you’re never too old to start dancing. Dance magazine pointed to David Zurak, a member of the Martha Graham Dance Company, who didn’t find his passion for dance until he was 23! There are also a lot of dancers who take up the art form without hopes of making it big, but are still amazed at how dance transforms their lives. The Guardian interviewed a 75-year-old man named Muhammad Yusuf who joined a weekly dance class at a local community center in hopes of staying active and socializing more. Yusuf explained that not only has the opportunity allowed him to reconnect with his passion for dance, but it has helped to keep his health problems under control as well. These stories show that success and ability isn’t determined by age, but rather by passion, dedication and desire!

Encouraging Students to Follow Their Dreams

Chances are that you decided to open a studio to share your love for dance with the next generation. That’s why it’s part of your responsibility to encourage students of all ages, shapes and sizes to do what they love. Be honest about what latecomers can expect – months or years of beginner-level classes and lots of extra practice time – but let them know that there’s no such thing as “too late.” Once students make the decision to step into their leotards, they’ll probably fall in love with the art form the same way you and so many others have.

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4 Tips on Using Dance Props During Class

Dance props

It doesn’t matter if you’re working with preschoolers or pre-professionals – dance props can be a welcome addition to just about any class. There are lots of items that can be incorporated into dance lessons, from floor spots to umbrellas and hats. If you’re looking to switch up your usual class structure, use these four tips to incorporate some fun props into the mix.

1. Consider Safety

Before you choose dance props to work with in class, it’s essential that you take safety considerations into account. DanceStudioOwner.com explained that you’ll want to think about the space you’re teaching in when picking items. Your dancers should be able to move freely with the prop without running into others, so canes or umbrellas aren’t a good idea if you have a big class. Similarly, you’ll want to choose items that are proportionate to the age of your students. Long ribbons are easy to trip on, so save them for older students. Think through your prop choices carefully and try to anticipate any problems you may run into.

2. Get Creative

Many dance teachers have a few go-to dance props, such as scarves, hats and canes, but the sky is the limit if you use your imagination. Head to a local dollar store to pick up some unique items to incorporate into your lessons. Dance Advantage suggested using masks, beanie animals, stretchy bands or bandanas as teaching aids. You can also play around with fake flowers, cones, baskets, novelty items, accessories, fans, toy instruments, sporting equipment and more!

3. Drive the Lesson Home

Props are fun to perform with, but they can also be used to teach important lessons. Bean bags can be used to help dancers improve their posture, while stretchy bands can help students execute a series of sharp movements. When you’re using props to teach a skill, don’t let your students get too distracted by the change of pace. Be sure that your lesson is clear and that the objects are being used to their full potential.

4. Use Props in Competition

If you find that your students work well with props, you may want to consider using the objects in an upcoming performance or competition. Dance Studio Life noted that the right supplement can help augment a theme and bring your team to the next level. However, you’ll want to be sure your dancers can handle the props like pros, otherwise it can make for a sloppy performance.

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Nutrition for Dancers: What to Eat for Competitions

Nutrition for Dancers

When you’re preparing for a big dance competition, your mind is probably filled with concerns about costumes, makeup, choreography and transportation. However, there’s another equally important consideration that often gets overlooked: What are your dancers going to eat? Most competitions are all-day affairs, and you can bet that your performers are going to get hungry throughout the day. If you want your students to perform their best, plan ahead and come to competitions prepared with food and beverages for your dancers. Use these tips to choose snacks packed with nutrition for dancers that will optimize energy and keep them on their toes.

The Night Before

While you won’t be there to ensure your performers are eating healthy meals the night before a competition, you can at least give them and their parents a little guidance on the best foods. Dance Comp Review recommended that dancers have a dinner with protein and complex carbohydrates the night before they perform.

Some goods options might be:

  • Grilled chicken or fish
  • Eggplant lasagna
  • Leafy salad with nuts, berries, and feta
  • Whole-wheat pasta or brown rice

Comfort foods that are rich in sugar and fat might seem tempting, but it’s better to choose a meal that packed with nutrients. This will help your body to fuel up on energy and get ready for a long, active day.

Snacking Right

When you’re packing snacks for the team to munch on throughout the day, you’ll want to focus on small, healthy items. The Rockettes blog suggested bringing along trail mix that contains nuts* and seeds, as these will help keep dancers feeling satiated for longer. Fresh or dried fruits and vegetables are another good choice, as they contain natural sugars that will boost energy. Other options include:

  • Whole-grain pretzels and crackers
  • Rice cakes
  • Nut butter*
  • Granola
  • Sliced vegetables
  • Berries

nutrition for dancers

Opt for Small Meals

You’ll probably spend a good portion of your day idling between performances, but that doesn’t mean your dancers should indulge in a big lunch or dinner. Experts agree that it’s best for performers to eat a number of smaller meals when they’re hungry.

“Eat when you’re hungry and find foods that leave you satisfied,” recommended Richard Gibbs, M.D., the supervising physicians of the San Francisco Ballet, in an interview with Dance magazine. “Eat smaller amounts and eat better. What often happens is that the dancer eats nothing all day, and at the end of the day pigs out on the wrong foods.

Good options for competition-day food might be:

  • Deli meat sandwiches on whole-grain bread
  • Chicken soup with lots of vegetables
  • Toasted bagel with peanut butter*

Skip the Soda

Be sure your students are drinking plenty of fluids with each meal they eat, and try to steer them towards water whenever possible. Dance magazine explained that drinking water with meals will help make food more digestible for the body and optimize nutrient intake.

Soda and other sugary drinks will likely be available at the competition, but these options aren’t so great for performers. Sugar crashes are all too real, so encourage dancers to focus on drinking water and leave the other beverages until after they perform.

*Editor’s note: Several readers have mentioned their concern about bringing nuts due to possible peanut or tree nut allergies among the 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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3 Tips to Keep Focus While Teaching Preschool Dance

Teaching Preschool Dance

It’s often extremely rewarding to work with young dancers—they’re cute and energetic and eager to learn. However, sometimes you may be faced with behavioral problems when teaching preschool dance and it can feel a little bit like you’re trying to herd cats. When you’re having trouble getting young students to focus during dance class, try using these three tips to keep them engaged and having fun.

1. Give Them Options

When energy is running high, chances are that you won’t be able to get your little dancers to line up and plié all together. Dance Advantage explained that children who are learning to make their own decisions will respond much better when they’re given choices. You don’t want to give your students unlimited possibilities, but try giving them two or three options to choose from during an activity. You can let them choose their favorite traveling step for an impromptu dance, then have them switch after a few minutes. When dancers feel like they’re in control, there will be much less pouting and foot stomping.

2. Keep Class Moving

It’s also important to realize that toddlers have a limited attention span. Try to break your classes up into a series of short and sweet activities. A good rule of thumb is to spend between five and 10 minutes on one formation or skill, then switch it up. You can always return to the activity later in the class if need be. If ever you sense that kids are getting distracted during a lesson, try to move on to something new as quickly as possible to bring them back into the action.

3. Partner Up with Troublemakers

Sometimes all it takes is one misbehaving child to get the whole class distracted. When you notice a student is having trouble listening, 4 Dancers recommended that you ask the child to be your partner on the next activity. This will allow you to instruct him or her more closely and keep other kids focused. You can also ask troublemakers to help out with transition activities, like handing out props or checking off attendance markers.

Teaching preschool dance may take a lot of energy and patience on your part, but it will definitely be a rewarding experience in the long run. Many of these little dancers will grow up to be your star students, so enjoy each moment you spend sculpting them into talented performers.

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