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Sherry has been a part of the TutuTix team since day one, and currently takes care of our family members on the West Coast, from Cali to Kansas and everywhere in between. Folks say that she is hip, cool, a musical muse, loyal, confident and has a wicked good sense of humor. In other words: Chuck Norris wants to be Sherry Graves.
Browsing All Posts By Sherry Graves

Tips for Dancers: Be the Best You

tips for dancers

With all the hours you spend striving to make your technique perfect and the hundreds of videos you watch of your favorite dancers, it can be easy to lose sight of what makes you unique. Every dancer, whether she’s a veteran or total beginner, has characteristics that make her special and set her apart from every other dancer. Truly fantastic dancers aren’t great because they’re technically perfect, but are great because they embrace their strengths and one-of-a-kind personality. They bring passion to the stage, capitalize on what they’re good at and, by doing so, remain in the minds of their audiences long after the show is over. Use these tips for dancers to help you achieve your full potential as a dancer, and while it may seem difficult to do so at first, a little soul-searching, honesty and reflection will help you soar to new heights.

Create a Personal Mission Statement

You may have an idea in your mind about why you love to dance or what you hope to achieve through ballet, but spending the time to sit down and put these sentiments into words will help you identify what makes you unique and will guide your dance journey. Think about what your dreams are, what you most want to accomplish and where you want to be in the future. In her book, “Career Coach: Managing Your Career in Theater and the Performing Arts,” Shelly Field provided the example mission statement, “My mission statement is to use my skills and talent to create a career dancing as a principal in the New York City Ballet.” The mission statement can be whatever resonates with your heart, but it’s important to keep it short, focused and clear. Once you’ve created your mission statement, make copies of it and stick it where you’ll constantly see it, like on your mirror, in your bag or on your laptop.

Play to Your Strengths

Everyone’s body is different and is better adapted to certain skills and movements than others. To be the best you, you should recognize what you excel at and are uniquely talented at, and then devote yourself to getting even better at them. There’s always someone who is going to be better than you, and it’s okay to admire them for their abilities, but beating yourself up for not being as good builds harmful, negative energy. Instead, recognize your unique gifts! For example, Pointe Magazine Online profiled Kathi Martuza, a dancer with hyperextension in her legs. While her condition gives her beautiful long lines, it also causes her knee pain and muscle issues and makes turns difficult. Instead of dwelling on the challenges she faces, she appreciates the things she’s good at.

“Everybody has strengths and weaknesses,” she said in an interview with magazine. “Play up your strengths and show them off. Then work on your weaknesses.”

Embrace your Style

Of course, there are times when you have little control over the choreography or costume, but part of becoming the best you as a dancer is figuring out your unique style and then not being afraid to show it. Create your own choreography for performances and competitions that showcase your spirit as a dancer, whether that means you do a routine full of sky-high leaps and acrobatic moves to powerful music, embrace the classical style with elegant lines and a refined costume or incorporate moves and rhythms from your cultural heritage. Confidently expressing yourself and what makes you unique will help you achieve your full potential as a dancer.

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How to Be a Good Dance Teacher

How to be a Good Dance Teacher

Learning how to be a good dance teacher is about much more than simply correcting form and demonstrating the right techniques. Good dance teachers transcend from being just an instructor to becoming a role model, to making a lasting impression on students and to being a positive force in both their personal and dance development.

Great dance teachers are not soon forgotten. Writer and Life Counselor Jesua shared a powerful memory of her dance teacher with the Huffington Post. Jesua had neurological damage and injured legs as a result of meningitis contracted when she was a child. In college, she bravely decided to take a dance class in order to help improve her control over her body. She felt incredibly self-conscious as she stumbled through her routines, watching the other students completing them perfectly. But one day, an interaction with her dance teacher changed her outlook not just on dance, but on life:

“In front of the entire class, she yelled at me, scolding me, with so much intense love and conviction and passion I have perhaps never recovered since. She said: ‘Look at you, shame on you! Holding these long, beautiful limbs so close, so tight to your sides?’ Then she got in my face: ‘How generous are you willing to be? How generous are you willing to be with your whole life? Will you share yourself with us? With the world? Do you dare? Or are you just going to hold yourself tightly in … just keep yourself to yourself for the rest of your life? In case you fall? In case you fail? Or: are you going to choose to just be generous anyway? To just take up as much space as you actually take up? To be as big, as graceful, as long, as gorgeous, as enormous as you actually are?”

She stopped, out of breath from her spontaneous explosion, and stood there, staring up at me, tears of wisdom’s fierce love glistening in her eyes. Stunned tears came to my eyes as well, and I met her gaze, with what must have been the light of humbled gratitude.

Good dance teachers inspire their students, help them grow and enable them to be the best they can be. Read on to learn about the most important qualities for good dance teachers and ways that you can improve them:

Empathy

The most effective teachers are the ones that truly try to see things from their students’ perspectives and are understanding about their unique concerns, fears and struggles. Think back to the time before you became a teacher: There were certainly moments in class when you were frustrated or grappling with issues that you felt like no one else understood. A good teacher levels with their students. As Dance Advantage stated, a good dance teacher “responds to his students with understanding and, when appropriate, compassion. He reaches people where they are, not where he wants them to be.” To practice more empathy, remember that all of your students are going through stresses and anxieties just like you did as a young dancer, and recognize the unique perspectives of each student in your class.

Open Communication

How can teachers connect with students if they’re not actively listening to their needs, or creating an atmosphere that encourages free expression? Listening skills and open communication are essential to being a good dance teacher. “The goal of a dance educator is to understand why each student has come to the class and what they hope to achieve,” stated Inspire2Dance. Your job is to guide students on their dance journey, and this can only be achieved by fostering a class environment that encourages students to share their thoughts and concerns with you. Open communication, however, is not a one way street. To build an atmosphere of open communication, Inspire2Dance recommended that teachers frequently check in with students, ask them questions about their dance practice and gather feedback. Show your students that you value their thoughts and opinions and remind them that you are here to help them succeed.

Self-awareness

Whether students spend just one or five days a week in class, they are influenced by the behavior of their teachers, and often see them as mentors. To be a good dance teacher requires constant self-awareness of how you are being perceived and the lessons that you teach beyond dance skills and techniques. “In the students’ minds, the teacher brings not only personal perspective to the environment, but represents the broader knowledge of the field, and all the teachers that have come before this individual,” stated an article in the Journal of Dance Education. The article advised that instead of shying away from this role, teachers should embrace it. Pay attention to the language you use, your attitude and your behavior to make sure you are being the best role model you can be for your students.

Work on these qualities to improve as a dance teacher. With time, care and dedication, you won’t just be a good teacher, but you’ll be a great one.

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Dance Health Benefits for Kids

dance health benefits for kids

Dancing is not only fun but provides a range of dance health benefits. Dancing at any age is good for you, but involving kids with dance early on supports their physical and mental development and shows them the importance of exercise.

While children jump and twirl and release their boundless energy, they’re also growing, learning and building healthy habits for life. Here are some dance health benefits (and more!) for kids:

Physical Fitness

From balancing on their toes to raising their arms and even just standing in third position, dance utilizes the entire body and all of its muscle groups. It is an aerobic exercise, which gets the heartbeat going to strengthen the cardiovascular system, increases lung capacity and builds endurance. It also improves flexibility, posture and balance. In addition to these health benefits, dance helps improve coordination and kinesthetic memory, or body awareness, in children. According to Dancescape, moving our bodies to music strengthens the connection between our bodies and our minds by supporting both the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system.

Mental Development

Dancing not only benefits the body, but also the mind. Learning choreography helps children strengthen their cognitive abilities and memory skills. Alternatively, being given the opportunity for free and spontaneous movement aids their problem-solving skills. As the National Dance Education Organization stated:

“Movement provides the cognitive loop between the idea, problem, or intent and the outcome or solution. This teaches an infant, child and, ultimately, adult to function in and understand the world.”

Furthermore, dancing helps children become more comfortable with their bodies and with expressing their ideas and emotions. This body awareness and confidence translates into higher self-esteem. A more positive sense of self helps children deal with emotional issues that they may have, and in turn, teaches them the valuable skill of how to deal with problems and bad feelings constructively.

Social Skills

As children learn to relate to their body movements through dance, they’re also learning to relate to each other. Dance teaches children how to cooperate and work together in groups. By interacting with the instructor, it teaches them how to effectively communicate their needs, opinions and ideas. By learning new skills alongside others, children bond with each other, and begin to understand what it takes to collectively work toward one common goal. Lifelong friendships can be made in dance class, and by becoming more comfortable with expressing themselves through dance, shy children can feel more comfortable coming out of their shells and overcome their anxiety.

By supporting children’s physical and mental development, dance gives children the skills and health benefits they need to grow into healthy adults.

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Dance Intensives vs. Workshops

Dance Intensives vs. Workshops

Summer vacation means a break from school, but it shouldn’t mean a break from dance. The summer months are a great time to seek additional training opportunities that you wouldn’t have time for during the rest of the year.  Dance intensives and workshops both provide fantastic opportunities to hone your skills and broaden your horizons, and are rewarding ways to spend your summer break and benefit your dance career.

Intensives are generally geared toward higher-level dancers, have a focused lesson plan and long duration- lasting anywhere from a couple weeks to a month. Workshops, on the other hand, are shorter, ranging from a single day to a weekend or full week, and are more open to dancers of all skill and experience levels. Each type of summer dance experience has its advantages, and it’s important to fully understand them in order to make the best decision for how to spend your break.

Define Your Goals

The first step to deciding between an intensive or a workshop is defining your goals. Make a list of why you want to attend a summer program and what specific skills you hope to gain from the experience. Ballet Scoop suggested asking yourself whether you want to just improve your technique or want exposure to college recruiters, directors and job opportunities. Do you want to add a new style of dance to your repertoire, or do you want to learn from a renowned instructor? Once you know what you want to get out of your summer dance experience, you can better evaluate which type of program is the most worthwhile.

Career Considerations

Intensives are great for advanced dancers who are working toward the next phase in their careers. Intensives at a company school or university are designed to prep students for entry into a professional position or college career, and connect students with influential directors and decision-makers. Since many dancers attend intensives in a major city, they get a taste of what employment opportunities there are in that area, noted Dance Informa magazine. If dancers have their sights set on certain college programs, then attending an intensive at that school can help them form valuable connections and gain a better understanding of the skills and qualities most desired by the school, which gives them a leg up when audition times come around.

Alternatively, workshops are generally found locally in towns of all sizes. They are a great choice for younger dancers who have never been away from home before and for novice dancers or those looking for a fun dance experience with minimal commitment, since they typically focus more on different styles and techniques than career prep.

Scheduling and Costs

Another important factor to consider are the costs and schedule demands of each program type. Intensives generally cost much more than workshops, though the experience can be well worth the money. Dance Spirit magazine recommended that dancers consider any pre-arranged travel plans or other commitments that they may have during the summer when choosing a program, too. In some cases, a weekend workshop might be more feasible than a month-long intensive in a far-away city that offers little flexibility.

Variety

Dance intensives typically include more focused practices and lessons and stick to one style of dance, which is great for dancers looking to advance their skills and gain a professional edge. For dancers of all levels who are looking to learn a new dance style or jazz up their practice, workshops may be the better option, since they generally have a more laid-back environment that’s more open to experimentation. And being able to dance in multiple styles is a great advantage in college auditions. As Steps Dance Studio noted:

“Summer is your chance to move your body in different ways and try new styles. Nowadays, choreographers want to work with dancers that are versatile, who pick things up quickly and who can capture different styles immediately.”

Personal Development

Finally, dance intensives and workshops offer dancers different levels of personal development. Traveling away to an intensive gives dancers the chance to not only improve their skills, but grow as individuals. Dance Informa noted that intensives prepare students to be self-sufficient, which they’ll need to be as professional dancers, and to step beyond their comfort zones. The new and unfamiliar environment enables dancers to gain new perspectives and see themselves in a different light, which forms a stronger self-identity.  Dance intensives also provide students with a rich sense of community and can help them form deep relationships with other dancers.

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to choosing a summer dance experience. Consider duration, costs and goals – both personal and dance-related – to make the best choice for you.

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What Do Your Dance Moves Say About You?

what do your dance moves say about you

During a recital, you make sure you hit every count of the choreography perfectly and pour your emotions into your leaps and turns to tell a story to the audience. But what kind of story are you telling when you’re not on stage or in front of the mirror, but are instead busting out moves at a friend’s party or school dance? The way you move when you don’t care who’s watching tells a lot about what type of personality you have, according to new research. And beyond revealing your personality, scientists think that your dance moves may also give insight into your thoughts and feelings.

So, what do your go-to dance moves say about you?

Moving around the dance floor a lot while making big, energetic movements with your arms and head: You’re an extrovert! You own that dance floor with your dramatic moves and don’t care who’s watching. The more attention you get, the better!

Doing the “shuffle,” or jerkily moving your hands and feet in quick, sharp motions: You have an neurotic personality! You feel a little more self-conscious in the disco lights of a dance floor than up on stage, and don’t want to make too much of a statement.

You make up and down movements right in time with the music, but not much more than that: You are open-minded! Your mind is free and unworried so it can tap into the music and what it makes you feel. You have an impeccable sense of rhythm and timing, and can adjust easily between different musical styles and songs.

You move your body in smooth side-to-side motions while swinging your hands: You have an agreeable personality! Like with other things in life, you go with the flow and let the music move you. People gravitate toward you, and you love when the size of your dancing circle grows.

You dance your way around the room, never staying in one spot too long, and are constantly making big motions with your hands: You have a conscientious and dutiful personality! You are a dedicated worker, always staying late after class to nail your choreography. You hate being bored and want to make sure you get the most out of whatever you do and live life to the fullest.

And finally, if you always point your toes, no matter where you are: You are a true dancer at heart! This one wasn’t in the study, but if your friends always point out how your toes are always curled in impeccable form it can only mean one thing: You always have the spirit of dance within you, wherever you go!

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How to Create Great Dance Registration Forms

How to Create Great Dance Registration Forms

Clear and concise dance registration forms make things easier for both dance parents and studio owners. Before drawing up a form or downloading a template off of the Internet, it’s important to give a little consideration to what will be included. Well-designed dance registration forms that contains only the most pertinent information will make it a snap for parents to register their children and for studio owners to organize and reference student information.

Paper or Online?

A primary consideration when designing a dance studio registration form is whether it will be in print, online or both. A paper form makes it easy for parents to sign their children up for classes on the spot, and can be handed out when owners are away from the studio, for example when running a table at a fair or after a performance. Additionally, a physical form makes sure that those without Internet access can still sign up for classes.

However, an online form provides convenience and accessibility from almost anywhere, especially as more and more people own smartphones and conduct their business online. Parents are already using their phones to take care of everyday tasks, like booking medical appointments and paying bills. A study by the Federal Reserve found that 52 percent of smartphone owners have used mobile banking in the last year, and research by Accenture estimated that two-thirds of patients will book their medical appointments online by the end of 2019.

By adapting to these digital habits, studio owners make registering for classes as easy as possible for parents. One studio owner started online registration through her studio’s website and offered a limited-time offer of 50 percent off the registration fee for parents that registered online, and saw great results. Another owner advertised online registration on her website and then received 80 registrations in addition to the 120 she got through her open house. Handling registration online also gives studio owners the extra benefit of being able to post registration reminders on Facebook and via email. Creating an online form is easy and cheap, since no printer is required! There are several easy and free ways to create online registration forms, like Google Forms and Wufoo.

Depending on a studio’s clientele and website budget, providing both paper forms and online registration may be the best option.

Sections to Include

The first section of your dance registration forms should be the student’s information, including his/her name, date of birth, home address and home telephone number. Then include the contact information of her parents, including the parents’ names, email addresses, cell phone numbers and emergency contact information. A line that asks parents to note whether they would prefer to communicate via email or phone is also helpful. Beneath the contact information, ask parents to list whether their children have any allergies or other medical concerns.

The next section should cover legal issues and policy acceptance. These affirm that the parent and student understand the rules of the studio, the risks associated with dance and their responsibilities for attendance and payment. DanceStudioOwner.com provides a sample legal agreement:

I understand that dance classes may include, without limitation, dancing with props, stretching, barre work, across the floor combinations, dance routines in the center, and other related activities. I further understand that all of the activities of the dance class involve some degree of risk of strain or bodily injury. XYZ Dance Studio is not responsible for personal property.

I have received the student handbook and agree to adhere to all the content stated therein including: Studio Policies,Tuition & Payment Information, Dress Code, Traffic Pattern, Visitor Weeks and Calendar

I agree to be responsible for reading studio correspondence and respecting deadlines, if applicable.

I hereby acknowledge that I have read the statements above and agree to participate accordingly.

Signature: _____________________________________ Date: ________________________

Next, include a section for listing which classes the student is signing up for. One way to do this is by creating a table with columns for the class name, scheduled date/time and tuition. Beneath the table, include a line for the registration fee and any additional expenses, like a recital fee or costume fee, followed by a line for the total balance due.

Some studio owners attach their class schedule and a condensed version of their policies to the dance registration forms so parents can easily reference them. Try to keep the whole document to as few pages as possible, though, since handing parents a stack of papers – or forcing them to click “Next Page” 50 times online – will only overwhelm them!

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Dance Recital Stress? Great Ways For Dancers To Relieve Stress Before A Recital

Dance Recital Stress? The Fastest Ways To Relieve Stress Before A Recital

Most dancers know that dance recitals can be stressful. They’re a culmination of a dancer’s hard work all season. They’ll put in endless hours to practice their performances to make sure they nail every move perfectly. However, when the day of the recital finally arrives, you’re still uncertain whether you’ll be able to perform every single step perfectly. What if something goes wrong? What if your music skips or your costume tears? So what are you to do? Consider these five tips on how to relieve your dance recital stress as quickly as possible.

1. Talk To A Friend

One of the fastest ways to reduce anxiety and lower your heart rate is to talk to a friend, Helpguide.org noted. Having a light, easy conversation can help distract you from overreacting to any type of stressful event, including dance recitals. Talking to someone you know and trust can make you feel safe and comfortable, allowing you to relax and forget your worries about dancing. Usually this feeling of safety is subconscious, which is why it’s so effective. The body will pick up on nonverbal cues, such as a smile, a hug or another warm gesture and begin to relax in that person’s presence. However, this interaction should be be in-person in order to work, so  calling up your best friend who isn’t attending the show might not have the same effect.

2. Meditate And Walk

Meditating and walking is a fast and easy trick that only takes four minutes to complete, Real Simple magazine noted. The act of doing both at the same time helps distract the brain from the stressful event at hand and instead focus on the present, which allows dancers to lower their blood pressure and helps them gain clarity before hitting the stage.

A few minutes before your performance, inhale and take four steps forward. Then, exhale and take another four steps. Repeat the process and add a few steps in each time. Try to complete this exercise in at least three minutes. The longer you do it, the better off you’ll be. Regulating your breathing is one of the easiest ways to reduce your stress and steady your heart rate, reducing amount of the hormone cortisol that is released. This exercise is perfect if you’re sitting in the hallway or a back room waiting to go on stage.

3. Have Some Dark Chocolate

When you’re stressed, you might begin to eat everything in a desperate attempt to soothe your nerves. Of course, eating the wrong things could cause you to feel bloated and possibly give you an upset stomach before the show. Instead of eating anything within reach, grab a bar of dark chocolate, Health magazine suggested. Believe it or not, this sweet is known for its stress-relieving properties. Dark chocolate isn’t very high in sugar, which can actually make you feel more anxious. Studies have shown that it can help lower the levels of cortisol running through your body, making you feel calmer.

4. Step Outside

If you’re really feeling overwhelmed watching dancers practice and get ready around you, simply step outside for a moment. Getting some fresh air and taking a few deep breaths can help you relax, feel calm and allow you to forget about those small worries. Don’t have a minute to go out? Bring along a little lavender or lavender oil, which is a proven elixir for stress relief and can help regulate your immune system and bring it back to normal levels.

5. Listen to Calming Music

If you’ve got a little time to burn before you strut your stuff, listen to some music with a calm, relaxing melody. Find a quiet space away from the din of the recital and drift away to the soothing music. Research has shown that when people listen to calming music, their brain waves will align with slow rhythm and immediately cause you to relax.

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Can’t-Miss December Dance Performances of 2016

dance performances

The stockings have been hung with care, the presents placed under the tree and every last card mailed. You’ve made your list and checked it twice, but there’s one more thing you need to do this month: See a show! December is packed with exciting dance events from coast to coast that are fun ways to celebrate the spirit of the season. We’ve picked out two dance performances going on this winter season that you just can’t miss.

1. The San Francisco Ballet “Nutcracker”

Recorded for PBS’ “Great Performances” series and called one of the best “Nutcracker” performances in the country by critics, seeing this legendary show at the majestic War Memorial Opera House has been the Christmas wish of young and old alike since the ballet premiered there for the first time in the U.S. in 1944.

SFB puts a local spin on the classic story, setting the tale in the romantic streets of historic San Francisco. Come to watch in wonder as toy soldiers march out of larger-than-life presents, sparkling snow begins to fall and the company’s athletic dancers leap to jaw-dropping heights. Leave with visions of sugarplum fairies dancing in your head. See “Nutcracker” Dec. 20-29 at the War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA.

2. Wonderbound “Snow”

Wonderbound, an innovative and boundary-breaking dance company in Denver, presents “Snow”, an original fable about a dark and magical night. The one-of-a-kind show immerses audiences in the story by using their five senses, incorporating sense, projections and food created by local restaurants into the performance, along with audience participation. See “Winter” Dec. 13-22 at Wonderbound Studio, 1075 Park Avenue West, Denver, CO.

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6 Tips for Dancers: Surviving Dance Recital Week

dance recital week

Recital week can be an exciting time, but it can also be very stressful. Between the constant travel and hoping to look your best during every performance, things can get exhausting quickly. Luckily, there are a few simple ways to get through this stressful time of the year. These tips and tricks can help your dance recital week seem like a breeze, instead of an anxiety-ridden event. Consider these suggestions on how to survive dance recital week.

1) Plan Ahead

Plan, plan, plan ahead! Begin setting aside items that you’ll need for the recital, but won’t need to use the week before. That could be pieces of costumes, hair accessories, shoes, makeup and so on. Beginning to pack this far in advance means that you won’t be scrambling at the last minute trying to get things together for your show or series of shows. Instead, you can calmly grab your bags and head to the studio.

2) Label Everything

When you’re packing, you don’t want to get confused or mix things up. That’s why it’s critical to create categories and sections for all of the pieces you need for recital week. Once you’ve got your costumes and essential items organized, labeling them is just as important. Label each with your name and the purpose of the item. You may even want to go as far as listing the recital number as well as your personal phone number. This is a good idea in case you lose your bag or leave it somewhere and another person finds it. That way they can call you and hopefully you can get it before the show!

3) Make Copies of Your Rehearsal Schedule

Rehearsals are just as important as the recital themselves. After all, what’s more important than making sure you completely have the steps down for your routine? Once you get your rehearsal schedule from your teacher, look it over several times to make sure you know where and when you are rehearsing for the dance recital, and write down the schedule in your planner.

If you don’t know these details, you might get distracted and forgot or accidentally arrive at the wrong studio, causing you to be late for the rehearsal and potentially ill-prepared. Though these schedules can seem overwhelming, as you may have several practices in a row before the actual performances, they are critical to you doing well.

Bringing extras can help you be your best on stage. Having extra dance essentials on hand helps ensure that your focus stays where it needs to be—on your performance.

4) Bring Extras

It’s always wise to bring extras of things. That way, if you lose one item, you can quickly grab the backup. Also, recitals can be an exciting time, but they can also be unpredictable. You may not anticipate that your tights will rip or the straps to your dress will come loose, but they might. Keeping an extra pair of tights and some safety pins on hand can help alleviate these issues as they happen. Aside from those two items, have extra bobby pins, pain relievers, hairspray, makeup, baby wipes and band aids. That way you can be at your best no matter what happens.

Looking for a guide to help organize these extras? Check out our dance competition survival guide! Competitions and recitals have TONS of crossover materials needed, so you can use this guide be sure to have everything covered.

5) Create a Checklist

Thanks to DanceMom.com, who put together a checklist of lots of items you need to pack and things to keep in mind. Run through that list more than once to make sure everything is on there!

After packing, compare the list with your packed dance bag not once, but twice. Attention to the little details can make a big difference on recital day! Once you know everything is packed, you can head into the studio assured and confident instead of worried and concerned that you forgot something.

6) Eat Smart!

If you’re running from performance to performance, you’re bound to get thirsty fast. That’s why it’s so important that you pack plenty of food and water.

Make sure you bring along a resilient, large water bottle that you can refill and keep at the studio. The same goes for food and snacks. You don’t want to be running on empty during your favorite performances, so pack some healthy snacks to help keep you going.

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4 Tips for Refusing Re-enrollment To Problem Parents

Almost every dance studio owner has dealt with some problem parents at one point or another. Sometimes you might not see them coming, other times you can tell they’ll be difficult from a mile away. However it occurs, one bad apple tends to spoil the rest. You don’t want to let one parent turn all of the other parents against you, or encourage them to engage in the drama. So what is a dance studio owner to do? Consider these four tips on how to deal with troublesome dance parents and how to avoid welcoming them back for another year.

1. Have Legitimate Reasons

It is important for dance studio owners to have a contract that lays out the studio policies as well as the consequences for breaking those rules. All parents, and children if they’re of age, should sign this contract before enrolling. If a parent violates one of these rules, studio owners should document the incident and notify the parent.* Refer to your list of studio policies that the parent agreed to upon enrolling in your studio.

Most studio rules don’t welcome aggressive or negative behavior, regardless of whether it comes from the student or parent. It’s also important not to bring other dance parents into the mix. While they may agree with you, you don’t want to start drama between dance parents. However, it is OK to corroborate your opinion with other studio staff members to help support your stance.

2. Deal With Problems in a Timely Manner

Sometimes parents will cause a scene during the dance year, forget about it over the following summer, and assume they can come back and have a fresh start. However, you and other parents may not have forgotten about that incident. While you might be surprised by their attempts at re-entry, it does happen.

If studio owners don’t handle bad behavior right away, it could have unexpected consequences—other parents may be dismayed that a parent got away with poor behavior and choose to leave the studio. When these scenarios occur, it is vitally important to deal with them in a timely fashion.

3. Offer Feedback Forms

Some dance studios offer feedback forms, according to DanceAdvantage.net. These forms give parents the opportunity to mention any comments, good or bad, that they have about the studio. Sure, the commentary may not always be constructive, especially if they bring up something like a costume malfunction, but these forms can also help keep the peace and prevent gossip from stirring up.

Once these forms are submitted, dance owners and parents can sit down to discuss the issues at hand. Setting up a meeting can be a calm, constructive way to find a resolution for a problem. Sometimes, though, resolutions cannot be found. At this point, you’re allowed to note that it’s studio policy and can calmly suggest that they find another studio to go to. Even though it isn’t the best way to refuse a parent back, you can do so knowing that you tried your best to hear the parent’s point of view.

4. Note Issues With Tardiness and Payments

Tardiness shouldn’t be welcomed at practice or any other time, as it can quickly become a habit. Dancers who show up late may throw off routines, cause practices to go later or could compromise a dance recital.

As a studio owner, it’s important to discuss your rules about tardiness with parents. Note the issues that arise from tardiness, and its effects on other dancers and parents. The same goes for payments. To keep your business up and running, you need to charge parents for their children’s lessons. Whether you charge them weekly, monthly or bi-annually is up to you.

However, if a parent doesn’t pay, it can quickly become an issue. If a parent consistently forgets or owes the studio a significant amount of money, it’s acceptable to terminate his or her contract. Discuss with the parent how lack of payment affects the studio as well as the purchase of costumes, footwear and equipment. Hopefully the parent will understand these legitimate reasons for not being welcomed back.

*Reader and veteran studio owner Danie Beck also suggested that in some cases, after you’ve spoken with the parent it may be a good idea to put the dismissal and the reasoning behind it in writing and send it to the parent. If you do, she noted that you should be sure to send it to them “return receipt requested,” so everyone is on the same page and there won’t be any surprises at registration time.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include reader feedback.

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5 Dance Tips For Your First Competition

dance tips

Going into your first dance competition can be nerve-wracking, regardless of whether you’ve been at the dance studio a few weeks or several months. Naturally, you want to do your best. However, what if you mess up your routine, something goes wrong with your costume or you forget to bring a crucial item? While most of the time these issues don’t occur, they can still be major worries until your routine is over. Luckily, there are some easy ways to prepare yourself so these issues don’t happen. Consider these five dance tips on how to prepare for your first competition.

1. Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice makes perfect, right? While continually practicing your routine allows you to really nail down your steps and completely understand the timing, it also improves your stamina. The more you practice, the better your breathing gets, the stronger your legs get and the easier the routine becomes. Every time you practice, only give yourself 30 seconds in between ending and beginning the dance again. That way, you can prepare your muscles for exactly what will happen once the competition comes.

“Believe that you are showing others how to dance instead of being judged on your dancing.”

2. Consider Yourself A Teacher

Every time you dance, you should consider it to be a demonstration instead of a performance. Believe that you are showing others how to dance instead of being judged on your style of dancing. With this mindset, you will want every move you make to be graceful, fluid and perfectly done so that others can learn from you.

If you believe that you are leading the way, instead of attempting to demonstrate moves that will be judged by others, you’re much more likely to practice – and perform – better. Don’t follow, teach!

3. Don’t Make Last-Minute Routine Changes

Many dancers will stress over their routine for so long that they worry it’s not perfect and needs to be changed. So, they might begin by changing one simple move, and slowly chip away at their entire routines. This isn’t the right move to make. Once you have your routine down pat, don’t obsess over it.

Instead, let it be – don’t think about it if you can make it look better. The only time you should be wondering if you should have changed your routine is after you get your score back. Also, small changes can alter what you pack. If you’re wondering what you should be packing, watch the video below.

4. Eat Right

Eating the right meal before your dance competition is critical to your performance. You can eat the right meal and you can definitely eat the wrong one. After a few performances, you may learn what foods work best for you. However, at the first one that can be hard to determine.

Instead of eating one big meal before heading to your competition, eat several snacks to keep you light and energized without feeling heavy or bloated. Consider eating healthy foods like vegetables, as well as protein-based ones. Think about snack options such as peanut butter and apples, trail mix, carrots and hummus, and cheese and crackers.

Eating a healthy snack before the competition can help you get started on the right foot. Eating a healthy snack before the competition can help you get started on the right foot.

5. Let Loose

During your routine, it’s important to look as comfortable as possible. Many judges will look to see if you look natural in your dance. Judges don’t want to see that you look stiff or awkward in the routine, which can make or break your complete score. At the end of the day, practice the routine enough so you can do it in your sleep, but have confidence that you can do it too!

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How to Improve Dancer Body Image

dancer body image

It’s no secret that young girls often struggle with self-esteem and body image, often due to the ultra-thin celebrities they idolize and the media’s portrayal of the “ideal” female figure. Here’s some advice for improving dancer body image.

Facts About Body Image

Whether you’re a studio owner, dance teacher or student, you probably realize that body image is a problem among many girls. But do you know just how prominent this issue is? Here are some facts that may surprise you:

  • According to statistics compiled by the University of Washington, 53 percent of American girls are unhappy with the way they look at age 13. By the time these young women are 17, 78 percent are displeased with their bodies.
  • Almost 95 percent of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25, according to DoSomething.org.
  • A study published in the journal Psychopathology showed that non-elite ballerinas have the highest prevalence of eating disorders among non-professional athletes. The research involved 113 ballerinas – more that 20 percent exhibited unhealthy eating behaviors.
  • According to research from Emory University, dancers often use studio mirrors to compare themselves to other students, and this can lead to negative thoughts about their own bodies.

One of the most important things that dancers can take away from these statistics is that you’re not alone!

If you’re struggling to maintain a healthy body image, chances are that some of your peers are as well.

Learn to love what you see in the studio mirror. Learn to love what you see in the studio mirror.

How to Improve Your Body Image

Ready to turn the tables and start loving your body? Here are some tips for dancers who are less than happy with their reflections. Dance teachers – take note! These points may come in handy if you ever need to help a dancer with body issue problems.

  • Recognize Critique as Helpful
    Whether you aspire to be a professional dancer or are simply devoted to the discipline of dance, you’re going to be subject to critique from time to time, and some of it won’t be easy to hear. Dance Advantage explained that it’s important to externalize criticisms and realize that your teachers and coaches are helping you to improve. They’re not trying to be mean or hurtful, so try not to take their comments to heart.
  • Find a Healthy Role Model
    Instead of looking to the usual celebrities as role models, try to find a healthy, happy individual to emulate. This could be someone you know – a friend, teacher or coach – or an athlete who practices positive body image. One particularly inspiring dancer who may serve as a good role model is Misty Copeland. Check out the video below, where she explains how she chose to shake off the criticisms of her body and join a ballet company that embraces her just the way she is!
  • Don’t Compare—Be Yourself
    Ultimately, a dancer has to find their own strengths—and that includes their specific physical traits. Own your physique, and incorporate the confidence in your unique and special body into every move. Like Misty Copeland, you may not fit the “traditional” mold of your genre of dance, and that’s ok! Bring your own special persona and physicality to your art!
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Benefits of Dance: Studies Show Dancing Improves Happiness

Benefits of Dance

Sure, a great dance class can put a smile on the face of a student or teacher, but did you know it’s scientifically proven that dance makes you happier? A number of studies have shown that people who dance are less likely to be depressed and report higher levels of emotional well-being. It’s a fun fact to keep in your back pocket for the next time someone questions the benefits of dance classes!

Here’s what the studies have shown:

1. Dance Improves Self-Confidence

There’s no denying that the teenage years can be tough for girls, as they often feel pressured to look perfect and behave a certain way. This can lead to low self-confidence and high levels of stress and anxiety. Luckily, researchers in Sweden found that teenage girls who attend weekly dance classes have higher self-esteem and improved mental health. These benefits often lasted for many months!

2. Dance Reduces Anxiety

The hormones released during exercise – called endorphins – are known to improve your mood. However, Psychology Today explained that people who dance often experience more benefits than those who simply run or hit the gym. Dance can lead to a calm demeanor, improved mood and better sense of control. This can be especially helpful for dancers who are having a hard time in school or their personal lives. Not only does escaping to the studio allow students to express themselves creatively, it also gets those good hormones flowing!

3. Dancing Alleviates Stress

People tend to recommend activities like yoga or meditation for stress relief, but a study from the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine showed that dance might edge out both these activities. The researchers found that tango classes lowered individuals’ stress levels more than meditation. In this study, dancing was associated with positive emotions, better self-esteem and lessened anxiety. What’s better than that?

These scientifically proven facts are surely impressive, but nothing speaks quite as loud as the smiles on your dancers faces after a great performance. You should be proud that your studio not only teaches a beautiful art form to students of all ages, but that is also contributes to the well-being of youth in your community.

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After the Audition Rejection Letter

audition rejection letter

One of the hardest lessons to learn as a dancer is how to handle rejection. It’s a part of everyone’s career, whether it comes early during competition team tryouts or later in life when you’re striving to go pro. Even Misty Copeland, a legendary ballerina who ended up becoming the first African American principal ballerina with the American Ballet Theatre, encountered rejection at some point along her path to greatness. In fact, her toils were highlighted in a viral video that was part of Under Armour’s “I will what I want” series.

The audition rejection letter read in the video is anything but sugar-coated. The school essentially told Copeland that she would probably never be a ballerina, and those harsh words are often enough to crush a young hopeful’s dreams.

So how do you shake off a bad audition rejection latter and get back on pointe? Here are some tips that will help you bounce back from even the most disappointing audition rejection letter.

Shake it Off

It’s hard not to take rejection personally, but Pointe Magazine recommended that dancers keep in mind that their art form is subjective. One director may not see your potential, but there’s probably someone out there that will – which is why you shouldn’t give up! However, you’re going to have to shake off your post-rejection slump if you want to further your career. Here are a few tips that will help you shake off the bad news:

  • Ask for Feedback: Make the most of an unpleasant experience. Ask what you could have done better and what areas you can improve in.
  • Banish Negative Thoughts: It’s easy to let unsavory thoughts creep into your mind after being rejected. “What if I’m a bad dancer? Should I just give up?” Get these thoughts out of your head. Instead, think about positive feedback you’ve received and your strengths as a dancer.
  • Do Something Fun: One of the easiest ways to perk yourself up when you’re in a slump is to do something you enjoy. Don’t rush right back into the studio – take a day and do something fun with your friends.
Channel your sadness into your dancing.

Take Your Next Steps

Once you’ve taken a few days to come to terms with the rejections, it’s important that you pick yourself up and take your next steps. Reevaluate your goals as a dancer: Do you want to try out for another dance team or company? Or should you just focus on improving your skills and auditioning again next year? Chances are that if you use the feedback you were given and dedicate yourself to improving problem areas, you have a good shot at being accepted in the future.

“Because we’re dealing with young adults, a great deal can change over the course of just six months,” Ethan Stiefel, dean of the dance program at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, explained to Pointe Magazine. “I would encourage a student who’s been rejected to work hard and re-audition the following year, because they may have made huge leaps and bounds.”

Work with your teacher or coach to create a plan to achieve your new goals, and then get to work! Rejection is only the end of your road if you let it be.

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5 Ways to Make Your Dance Instructors’ Lives Easier

What would your studio be without your awesome dance instructors? They’re the ones working with students, helping put together recital pieces and fending parent questions. In many dance schools, instructors are an integral part of the business.

However, being a dance teacher isn’t all tutus and glitter. There are times when your instructors will be stressed and frustrated, and it’s in your best interest to help alleviate some of their problems to make their lives a little easier. Here are five common problems that studio owners can solve for the sake of their teachers.

1. Set Clear Studio Policies

You may not realize it, but if your studio has lax or unclear policies, it can end up affecting your teachers. On a Dance.net forum, a few instructors explained that when their studios do a poor job of communicating with parents, setting up dress codes or explaining expected class behaviors, it makes their lives a lot harder.

Setting up set policies for your school is a quick fix to this issues, and it not only will benefit your teachers, but it will likely help out you and your business as a whole.

2. Enforce Pickup and Dropoff Times

Your teachers likely love their charges, but that doesn’t mean they want to hang out with students for 20 minutes after class ends. Instructors have lives too, and many times, they’ll have places they need to be. It’s your job as the studio owner to enforce your pickup and dropoff times so that no one has to be babysitting after class is over.

3. Be a Parent Buffer

Mama drama is inevitable sometimes, and you should be there to help your instructors deal with unhappy parents. Establish clear guidelines for parent complaints and make sure you’re involved in the resolution process. It will take a whole lot of stress off the shoulders of your teachers.

4. Limit Parent Observation

Parents love to watch their little dancers perform, but it’s often distracting for the class and the instructor. Find a way to minimize distractions that come along with parent observation, whether it’s by setting up limited class time when parents can watch or installing a one-way mirror or TV monitoring system.

5.Offer Compensation for Any Extras

There may be times when you really need a teacher to stay after hours with a student or to help set up for a recital. However, it’s important that you realize what tasks aren’t in the usual scope of a dance instructor’s job description and offer additional compensation if necessary.

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