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Dance Studio Teacher Staff Meetings That ROCK

Dance Studio Teacher Staff Meetings that ROCK

The school supply lists are posted at Target, the mailbox is filling up with registration paperwork for my children’s schools and Facebook is blowing up with pictures of kids in backpacks. It’s officially time for back-to-school and that means it’s time to get serious about back-to-dance!

As a studio owner, I’m a big fan of observing what the local schools do and taking my cues from their systems. For example, we do our registration for summer classes when the local school opens theirs. We offer parent teacher conferences just like the schools do and we follow their model for teacher training as well.

Most studio owners consider themselves to be in the business of training students, but the strongest studios I know understand that they are in the business of training teachers as well.

Here are 5 tips to step up your teacher training this year with Dance Studio Teacher Staff Meetings that ROCK:


  1. Timing is everything.
    Time is the most important commodity we have. Make your meetings few and powerful. I meet with my full time leadership team once every two weeks and the entire staff once each quarter. Our bi-weekly leadership meetings are about 1.5 hours in length and our quarterly all-staff meetings are three hours. Bi-weekly leadership meetings focus on weekly operational issues such as scheduling, weekend events, student concerns, ordering costumes, dress code, equipment and tracking classroom progress. Quarterly meetings are centered on important times in our dance season: back-to-school kickoff in August, recital planning in October, parent-teacher conferences and competition details in January and preparing for the two biggest events of the year—registration and recital—in April. Respecting people’s time and hitting the most important parts of the season are two keys to having successful staff meetings.
  2. Remember that there are three parts to every successful meeting.
    The most successful meetings we have address three areas:

    1. Informational
    2. Inspirational
    3. Instructional
Take our Back-to-Dance meeting for example. A big part of this meeting is informational in nature—reviewing schedule changes, turning in contracts and going over employment handbooks. But, the real purpose of this meeting is inspirational. Back-to-school is a time for your teachers to remember why they became teachers in the first place and to set new goals for the year. The last part of a successful meeting is instructional. The best teachers never stop learning, so take advantage of this time together to teach your team something new. It could be as simple as getting everyone in the studio to decide what preparation for pirouette is going to look like for all the classes at your studio, or it could be a short teaching on time management or customer service.
  1. Develop a theme for the year.
    Every year at my studio we have an overarching theme that helps us focus our activities. One year when we were in a high period of growth our theme was “Every Student, Every Class.” The idea was that even though we had become a larger studio we wanted every student in every class to feel the warmth of personal and  positive attention. This year our theme is “Energize Enrollment” because we have set some ambitious enrollment goals for the upcoming season. At each of our meetings we talk about how we are measuring up against the theme that we have prioritized for the year.
  1. Celebrate what you want to elevate.
    Staff meetings are a great time to “lift up” what you want to “build up.” For example, one of our core values is service so I give shout outs at our meetings to staff members who have recently gone the extra mile for their colleagues or our clients. If dress code is something that is important to you, give some public praise to a teacher who exemplifies that. We even have an old-fashioned star chart to measure teacher progress just like you might see in a Kindergarten classroom. Our teachers are broken into teams and the teams can earn stars over the course of the year for things like being in dress code, attending meetings, turning their music in on time, helping colleagues by subbing, etc. Our teachers love it and get silly-competitive over earning stars because they know prizes will be handed out at the next meeting for the leaders.
  2. Bring the fun!
    Most people equate the word meetings with the word boring, so find ways to break it up with some fun.We once kicked off a meeting by tossing a ball from person to person asking them to share one thing we would never guess about them. Who knew I had one staff member whose mom is Australian and another who rides a Harley?! We have also broken it up by giving out dollar-store type prizes for our star chart winners and tossing out small candy bars for those who could answer pop questions about schedule or policies. When the meeting is about recital, we bring food to keep them fueled during the planning process. The idea is to make doing what you NEED to do something that they WANT to do.

How about you? What do you do to make your staff meetings worthwhile for teachers and owners alike? Leave your ideas in the comments below. Have a great season kick-off everyone!

Looking for more inspiration?  Sign up for the Misty Minute for weekly ideas to transform your studio and your life. 

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

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First Impressions Still Matter

First Impressions Still Matter

In business we call it “first impressions.” Psychologists call it “thin slicing.” Regardless of what you call it, career experts say it takes just three seconds for someone to determine whether they like you and want to do business with you.

According to BusinessInsider.com (2015), you have even less time to make a good first impression. Research from Princeton, Loyola Marymount University and the University of Liverpool demonstrates that judgments people make regarding your trustworthiness, intelligence and competence as a business leader are based on first impressions—sometimes in as little as one-tenth of a second.

One-tenth of a second?

If you don’t think this is true, just measure your own reactions next time you walk into someone else’s business for the first time. If a friend recommends a new restaurant but it has a funny smell when I walk in the door, I immediately begin to question my decision to eat there. Once, when I was driving on vacation I stopped to check availability at a hotel, but walked out before I could get the answer—based on my first impression.

The situation doesn’t have to be extreme to leave a bad impression. Have you ever taken your children to another activity outside of dance and found yourself fighting the urge to jump in and help the coach manage the children? Or have you ever wanted to straighten up someone else’s lobby? That’s why the saying, “First impressions make lasting impressions” is true.

Keep reading to learn what first impressions you may be giving your dance families without even realizing it.


Indeed the very first impression we make on a potential or new client sets a powerful tone for the rest of the relationship. Think about all of the different layers of first impressions someone has with your business before the first class:

It might start with a referral from a friend, or overhearing an opinion from another community member at the pool or the PTA. This will be followed up with a Google search for your business or a scroll through your social media. You may not be able to control what people say at the pool or the PTA, but once a prospective client visits you online, you are in control of the first impressions and client experience. Will your potential customer find an easy-to-navigate and up-to-date mobile site, or will they be forced to stretch and scroll for days in order to find basic information? Can they register online, or will they have to leave a voicemail and hope someone gets back to them? What will the first time mom find when she searches for you on social media? She’s mostly likely looking for children’s classes. Is that what she will see, or will she only see accolades for your advanced dancers?

It will take much less time for a prospective client to do all of the things above than it took for me to write the paragraph describing the process. That’s how fast business is moving now. The process a prospective client will got through will either be:

  1. Hear about you, look for you online or call, have a good first impression, inquire for more information, become a student.
  2. Hear about you, look for you online or call, have a negative first impression, look someplace else.

And, it can happen in minutes.

Let’s assume for a moment that you leave a positive first impression with the prospective client and they enroll in classes. You’ve won, right? Not so fast. Now begin the many layers of first impressions you will have on your new client for years to come.

First impressions don’t end after an initial introduction or enrollment of a new student. Not at all! This is where the real work begins. Think of all the “first time experiences” a student will go through with your studio.

  1. First class.
  2. First parent’s day.
  3. First costume.
  4. First picture day.
  5. First buying recital tickets experience.
  6. First rehearsal.
  7. First recital.

And, that’s just the first year. The “firsts” keep building the longer they remain clients.

  1. First placement for the next year’s classes.
  2. First audition for a team.
  3. First problem with a class.
  4. First disappointment with a placement.
  5. First conflict with school.
  6. First pair of pointe shoes.
  7. First solo.

Each of these interactions is an opportunity to make another new first impression. How do you handle problems at your studio as a leader? Do you lead with communication and a we-can-figure-this-out-together attitude? Do have an attitude of grace and service or are you quick to become defensive about policies and complaints?

As the old adage goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” I would add, “You never get to stop making first impressions.”

If first impressions matter so much, and for such a long time over the studio-client relationship, why don’t we do more to create more continuous positive first impressions as studio owners? The reasons are simple:

  1. Lack of understanding/awareness
  2. Lack of experience
  3. Lack of time
  4. Lack of resources
  5. You are simply too close to see it

Will you commit with me to make the 2016-17 school year a season of getting serious about the many layers of continuous first impressions we make on the students and families that we serve each week? It will not only help you to influence other’s perception of your business, but it also projects trustworthiness and inspires confidence in your abilities.

Putting continual effort into positive first impressions exudes friendliness, approachability and likeability to your clients and opens doors to opportunities in the community. Put first impressions first on your to-do list this year.

Looking for more inspiration?  Sign up for the Misty Minute for weekly ideas to transform your studio and your life. 


One Small Yes

Check out Misty’s new book, One Small Yes, available on AmazonThis book is a must read for studio owners that are looking for ways to balance the dance of work and life.

“Amazing! One Small Yes is such a great book on finding your calling in life and how to navigate and work through living out the calling. Must have for all entrepreneurs!!” – Kristen, Absolute Dance

“Loved One Small Yes by Misty Lown. Outstanding book for anyone, especially the small business owner or entrepreneur. An inspirational book which helps the reader face challenges and give them the courage to continue to move forward and face what lies ahead. Loved it!” – Melanie, Tonawanda Dance Arts

“Reading Misty’s book was like opening my inbox and finding a personal email written just for me. She took my thoughts and feelings about being a small business owner, put them down on paper, and then step by step carefully explained what was holding me back from achieving more in life. Now I have no excuses to moving closer to my Yes.” – Nancy, Studio B Dance


The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

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Summer Dance Camps and More: Filling Hours at Your Studio

Summer Dance Camps and More: Filling Hours at Your Studio

To borrow a made up word by one of my favorite bloggers, Glennon Doyle Melton, Summer is a BRUTIFUL season at the dance studio.

BRUTIFUL? Yes. Beautiful + brutal = brutiful.

Summer at the dance studio is BEAUTIFUL for several reasons:

  1. It’s a break from the marathon of weekly classes.
  2. There is a more relaxed schedule with schools no longer in session.
  3. It’s warm and sunny in Wisconsin for a couple of days; I mean months.

But, summer at the dance studio is BRUTAL for other reasons:

  1. A break from classes means far less income to cover fixed expenses.
  2. It can be hard to balance studio and home now that school’s out.
  3. With only a few days of true summer to enjoy in Wisconsin, the last place I want to be is in the office.

If this sounds familiar to you, keep reading for 4 easy ways to fill your studio with summer dance camps and more and still carve out time for family.

  1. Community Camps
    Last year our Community Outreach Coordinator came up with an idea to offer an hour and a half long camp each month. At first I didn’t think that anyone would be interested in buying one lesson per month, but boy was I wrong!  We had almost 200 students participate in our monthly community camps over the course of the school year. The short camps were so popular that we decided to offer eight of them for our summer session and I am pleased to say that we have had OVER 200 sign up this time. The lesson here is two-fold: 1) Be willing to try new things. My old summer programming had gotten tired and this was the perfect way to freshen it up; 2) Parents really appreciate a low commitment way to try out dance as an activity.
  2. Private Lessons
    On the opposite end of the spectrum from the first-time student who appreciates community camps are the intermediate and advanced students who appreciate private lessons. While private lessons in and of themselves are not new, they way we package them is. Consider selling your lessons in a 10-pack for a discount or connecting them to content specific themes such as choreography, flexibility, core strength or turns. Content-focused lessons are more attractive to students than generic ones.
  3. Guest Artists
    Hosting guest artists has become a staple of summer programming at my studio over the past ten years. The visiting teachers allow us to fill camps and programs during the summer months when our own faculty is travelling as well as get access to fresh choreography for our students before the school year starts. If you haven’t hosted a guest artist before, start with something as simple as having an alumnus who is home for the summer guest teach some classes. If you are ready and able to do more, consider a source like Stage Door Connections to deliver ready-made workshops with professional dancers to your doorstep.
    1. Team Requirements
      About ten years ago we started requiring our team to participate in our annual Dance Camp in August. It was a great opportunity to kick off the year with technique classes and choreography. Soon we added a Stay Strong All Summer series of weekly classes to the roster in order to keep kids moving in the weeks between the spring recital in May and the big camp in August. This helped to keep both the teachers and the students active in the months of June and July.
    2. Family
      As our summer schedule grew at the studio, it became harder to carve out much needed time for family over the summer months. A few years ago, I decided to pull myself off the June schedule and spend some time driving across the country with my family for a reunion. I was nervous about how things would go while I was gone and even more worried about what families would think about my absence. But, then the most beautiful thing happened…the studio survived without my involvement for a few weeks and most of the families told me to have a great time on vacation. Win-win!

Friends, I want you to fill your studio with activity in the summer, but not at the expense of being able to take a break with your loved ones. So, fill those summer hours with community camps, private lessons, dance camp and team classes, but don’t forget to put your family on the schedule as well. You can always teach another class, but you never get a second chance to raise your kids.

Happy Summer, everyone!

Looking for more inspiration?  Sign up for the Misty Minute for weekly ideas to transform your studio and your life. 

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

Check out more articles on summer dance camps and other summer programming here.

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Dance Teacher Education: Strengthen Your Own Identity as a Dancer

dance teacher education

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

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

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

Scheduling ‘Self-Classes’

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

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

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

Great Teachers Keep Learning

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

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

Summer Study

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

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

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Dance Choreography Ideas: Choreography with a Strong Story

dance choreography ideas

Maybe you need to come up with dance choreography ideas that showcase your students’ newly learned skills, or are a dancer yourself struggling to put together a new composition. You might have the perfect music picked out and have filled the choreography with impressive technical skills, however you just feel that the whole piece needs just a little something more. What you’re probably lacking is a story, emotional and narrative threads weaved throughout the choreography that make the performance complete and connect the audience to the dance.

If you’ve typically been of the camp that puts innovative movement and technical skill ahead of storytelling in ballet choreography, now is the perfect time to flex those narrative muscles. Story ballets have been making a comeback, according to Pointe magazine. Abstract performances that focus solely on movement are making space on the stage for ballets that tell a rich story through dance.

Sometimes, creative inspiration quickly strikes and you know exactly what story you’ll be telling through your choreography. Other times, it’s a little more difficult, and you might feel that that inspiration tap has gone and dried up. However, there are some tips that will help you tell a stronger story in your choreography.

Absorb the Atmosphere

Once you have a piece of music selected for the dance, sit listening to the music in uninterrupted peace – a creative brainstorming session. As you listen to the music, don’t just think about the skills and movements that would perfect fit the highs and lows of the piece, but also think about what kind of atmosphere or ambiance the work creates. What emotions does the music conjure? What kind of environment does the piece transport you to?

Identifying atmosphere is a major part of choreographer Miro Magloire’s process, according to his interview with Backstage. Magloire is the artistic director and founder of New Chamber Ballet in New York, and told the source that his past experiences as a composer caused him to create his choreography primarily from the technical structure of the music.

“But over time I grew more interested in trying to respond to the atmosphere or spirit of the music, the emotion maybe,” he told Backstage. “I’ve seen dances that had no apparent structural relation to the music and yet I felt they completely ‘matched’ the music – and vice versa.”

Shift your focus from the technical elements of the musical piece and instead try to identify its emotional and transformative aspects to create a starting point from which to develop the story of the dance.

Look In Creative Places for Inspiration

Truly great artists – choreographers and otherwise – create great works because they are always open to inspiration, anywhere and anytime. This may be because for works of art that have emotional relevance, that have to be based in true human experiences, and the only way to learn about these experiences is by going out into the world. Watching ballet performances online can help give you ideas, but for fresh inspiration that can help you create dynamic, story-based choreography, it’s helpful to get out there and soak up some inspiration from non-ballet sources.

Choreographer Chloé Arnold of the Syncopated Ladies dance company told Dance magazine that when she feels choreographer’s block, she seeks out experiences where she can see someone else being creative, or can watch someone that inspires her. She said she when to a Beyonce concert and felt creatively rejuvenated, and stayed up all night choreographing.

And if inspiration does strike outside the studio, don’t be afraid to embrace it. Arnold told the magazine of one experience she had while she was stuck working on a performance.

“Inspiration came to me on the plane. I went to the bathroom area and made the movement right there. People thought I was crazy. But it became Syncopated Ladies’ staple dance when we were on “So You Think You Can Dance.”

So, if you’re stuck on story and need some fresh dance choreography ideas, seek out new experiences and don’t be afraid to let the music move you. New perspectives can help jumpstart your creativity so you can put together fresh, dynamic choreography that truly connects with the audience.

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Dance Career Beginnings: The First Steps

dance career

Maybe you’ve just started dance classes or have danced for years and are thinking about your future – whatever the case, you’ve fallen in love with ballet and know there’s no way you’ll spend your life doing anything but dance. While this passion is essential to success, you’ll also need a practical mindset when it comes to crafting a dance career for yourself.

Having a career in dance is something that many people dream about, though it’s entirely possible with hard work, perseverance and some strategic planning. You’ll have to be resourceful, leave your comfort zone and really put yourself out there. But if you can do all that – and more – then you can have a rewarding career doing what you love and sharing it with others.

Read on to learn how you can start a dance career.

Dance Career: Finding Where You Fit

While the first dance career that most people probably think of is that of a professional dancer for a company, there are many different types of dance careers. Whatever your skill level or interests, there’s a profession that can suit you. The variety of careers includes dance teachers, choreographers, studio owners and college- and graduate-level professors of dance courses. The New York Film Academy also adds to this list dance medicine specialists, costume designers, dance photographers and arts administrators for dance companies.

If your heart is set on performing as a professional dancer, then you should consider the different ways that dance can fit into your life. Of course, there are opportunities to dance full-time, whether for a company, theater or opera show or other performing arts group. However, if you’re already set in one career path, you can incorporate dance into your life as a side job and work part-time teaching or performing. Teaching positions aren’t limited to just dance studios, either – you can find opportunities at public and private schools, universities, gyms and community centers.

The lesson to learn from this is that no matter your abilities, desires or schedule, you can find a dance career that works for you. The key to identifying a good match is being realistic about your strengths and skills – dance-related and otherwise – and thinking about how they can best be put to use so that you can thrive personally and professionally. Narrowing down which type of career you’d like to have will guide your journey and keep you on track.

Learn All You Can

To achieve the dance career of your dreams, you’ll need to be proactive. Don’t become complacent in your current classes or job – always be thinking about how you can learn more and make new connections.

Dance Informa magazine advised those aspiring toward a dance career to take initiative and be a leader. Other people are not responsible to getting you where you want to be – only you are! Whether you’re in school, on a summer break or handling a 9-5 job in another field, make sure you keep your skills sharp by enrolling in dance classes and taking fitness classes to stay in shape. Look for workshops and courses in areas and styles that you’re not familiar with to grow your skillset. If you’re interested in teaching as a career, ask around at local studios if they need assistant teachers or interns to help out. Seek out conventions, certification courses and other programs that will give you additional skills, knowledge and teaching or performance experience.

Landing a Contract

If a contract with a dance troupe or company is what you’re after, networking is key. Scouts and agents will frequently attend competitions, conventions and other events looking for new talent, so make sure you give every performance your all.

“I’ll keep my eye on dancers until they graduate high school if I’ve judged them in a competition,” said Steve Chetelat of talent agency Bloc in an interview with Dance Spirit Magazine.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and reach out to dance professionals, either. Terry Lindholm, co-owner of Go 2 Talent Agency, told the magazine that he recommends dancers thank the choreographer after convention classes and introduce themselves to assistants. Ask them about what they think is the most promising city for dancers to have a career performing or if they have recommendations for any fantastic agencies or programs you should connect with.

Dance programs at colleges and universities also provide valuable experience and connections, so if this is a course you’re considering, spend time researching which program is right for you. Once you’ve selected it, learn how to perfect your college dance audition.

Be Realistic

While a dance career can be a reality, not just a dream, it’s important to have realistic expectations of the demands of this challenging profession. The Portland Ballet’s list of “15 Truths About Being a Professional Dancer” explains the sometimes harsh realities of a life devoted to dance. Remember that there’s always more to learn and that if you want to be successful, you need to prove that you are valuable by showing up early, working hard and knowing your routines inside and out. Don’t be afraid of working for free if you can gain valuable experience and connections. Know that you will make mistakes and fail sometimes, but be strong and pick yourself back up.

And above all, keep that passion for dance close to your heart – this is the one constant in the pursuit of a dance career. This love for dance will pick you up when you’re feeling down and help you bounce back after hard times. With a combination of practical preparation, strategy and passion, you can start a dance career.

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Foot Stretches for Dancers 101

foot stretches for dancers

A dancer relies on her feet, and it takes care and practice through foot stretches for dancers to make sure your feet are at the top of their game. Strong, flexible feet provide the foundation upon which other moves are done – weak feet, and you’re going to have a hard time dancing confidently and fluidly.

Whether you think you have flat feet or arches that need a little more oomph, there are lots of stretches you can do to strengthen your feet and make them more flexible. However, it’s important to be familiar with safe stretching practices and the movements that you should avoid. Stretching too much – or the wrong way – can backfire on you and cause serious damage.

Read on to learn more about stretching your feet.

Popular Foot Stretches for Dancers

There are several different ways that the feet can be stretched. One way is manually – the dancer herself uses her hands to bend her toes and arches to extend their stretch. Resistance bands, such as the Theraband, are also popular. Another way is to have your friend stretch your feet or – as you have probably heard before – to stretch your feet under a piano, door or couch. These last two methods – having a friend stretch you and using an object to stretch – are not recommended, as they can pose serious damage to your feet.

BalletHub explained that these two types of stretches put additional stress on the body. By putting your feet underneath a heavy object, you put extreme pressure on your knee, heel and leg muscles, making more prone to injury. For similar reasons, having a friend stretch out your foot is not recommended, either. Your friend isn’t you, so they don’t know how much pressure is too much – and if they do stretch your foot too far, by the time you notice the damage may already be done.

Stretching your feet yourself, without the use of heavy objects for leverage, and using a band are safer ways of stretching your feet. However, you should still take caution and gently stretch the feet, since it’s very easy to overwork them.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Stretching your feet once or twice a week is not going to get you anywhere. The key to effective foot stretching is consistency and a healthy dose of discipline. The author of the blog Ballet Heart described how she saw great improvement from stretching her feet three times a day, every day for four years. She writes that she can’t imagine how many hours have been spent stretching her feet, and that “It probably adds up to at least a week straight.”

Consistent stretching multiple times a day will garner the most results. Just be sure to gradually increase the intensity of your stretch, avoid stretching until it hurts and be careful not to overwork yourself.

Simple Foot Stretches for Dancers

There are plenty of simple stretches you can do to work your feet. The blog Live On Pointe recommended pointing and flexing your feet using a Theraband for resistance, along with doing relevés on each leg.

BalletHub advised doing the “Wrap n’ Push” to improve the feet. You sit on the floor, bend one leg over the other and stretch your feet through several movements using your hands. See their step-by-step guide to the stretch here.

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Dance Competition Makeup: A Checklist

Competition Makeup

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

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

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

Dance Competition Makeup Checklist

1. Moisturizer

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

2. Face Primer

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

3. Eye Primer

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

3. Foundation

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

4. Concealer

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

5. Foam or Sponge Makeup Blenders

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

6. Contouring product

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

7. Blush

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

8. Eyeshadows

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

9. Liquid or Gel Eyeliner in Black and White

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

10. False Eyelashes

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

11. Mascara

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

12. Brow powder/pencil

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

13. Lipstick

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

14. Lip Liner

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

15. Finishing powder or setting spray

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

16. Handy Extras

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

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Planning A Dance Recital: 4 Weeks Away From the Big Show

planning a dance recital

You’ve spent the year planning a dance recital for your studio, and now, with one month left to go, everything is finally coming together. The next few weeks will bring a flurry of emails and phone calls and the time will pass by before you even realize it. It’s possible, however, to minimize stress and stay sane – the key is being organized and having a dance recital checklist.

One of the worst feelings is suddenly remembering that you forgot to pick up the costumes, enlist volunteers or take care of another vital task. The dance recital checklist below will help you make sure you stay on track with one month to go before the recital.

Check in With the Venue

If you are holding the recital at a venue other than your own studio, now is the time to check-in with them and confirm that the space will be yours for the recital and for any rehearsals. Verify the hours that you’ll need to use the venue, and make sure that you have secured sufficient space for dressing rooms and backstage areas and that there will be enough chairs for your audience and tables for selling flowers and other items.

You also should check that there is an easily accessible parking area for audience members, teachers, dancers and volunteers. Also, make a note of what you’ll need to bring with you for the performance, such as additional lighting and music systems.

Try on Costumes

The last things you want are uncomfortable dancers and curtain-call wardrobe surprises. Don’t wait until the recital gets closer – instead, have your dancers try on their costumes well before recital time to make sure they fit, recommended Crown Awards. Consider offering a “Costume Construction Day” for alterations or provide parents with the contact info of the seamstress so they can arrange any necessary alterations or tailoring if the fit should be improved before rehearsals. Also, check that each dancer has all the necessary accessories and a garment bag for transporting the costume to the dress rehearsal and recital.

Prepare Programs

Programs can be a hassle to put together, but if they include advertiser pages they can really help boost your business. One month before the recital, layout and print the programs. You can do this yourself on publishing software if you’re design-savvy, but otherwise, you can outsource the programs to an online company. When you receive the draft of the programs, triple-check for typos, misspelled names and other errors.

If you have money in your budget, hiring a professional designer to craft your recital programs is well worth the money, advised Dance Studio Life. This way, you can create custom ads for local businesses who want to be included in your program but don’t have an ad ready, and you can have a snazzy, high-quality program that you can sell as a keepsake.

Finalize Recital Add-ons

It’s important to figure out ahead of time what you will offer at the recital. Dance recital add-ons can be both a service to your dance families and a source of added income. The Dance Exec provided a helpful list of recital “extras” that you should consider: Logo t-shirts, posed and candid recital photos, flowers, trophies, stuffed animals and recital DVDs. If you haven’t already, decide whether you will hire a professional photographer and/or videographer to record the recital, and book them ASAP. Check out this post for tips on choosing the right photographer for your dance recital photos.

Distribute Recital Packets

There are so many details for dance families to remember –  make it as easy as possible by providing a recital packet. Some of the information you might want to include is:

  • Rehearsal information
  • Posed/recital photo sessions/information
  • Recital day schedule/info, including drop-off/pickup information, parking, etc.
  • Costume reminders/information
  • Cost of recital add-ons, and any related order forms
  • Information about remaining volunteer needs/perks

In addition to the packet itself, make use of email, text and social media reminders to keep your dance families informed. You may also want to hold a mandatory “recital meeting,” especially for new dance parents.

Want an easy template to start from? You can download our Sample Recital Detail Information template using the form below! It’s a Microsoft Word document, so you can edit the details according to your needs.

dance recital information

Confirm Volunteers

Take the time now to confirm that you have enough volunteers to help out with the recital – and recruit some if you discover you’re falling short. It’s easy to forget certain little jobs that need volunteers, so sit down and list out every aspect of the recital to make sure you’ve enlisted enough help. Do you have people to man the flower or recital DVD table? What about someone to help organize the dancers backstage? Someone to take tickets, give out the programs, or direct parking? Make sure you have all your bases covered!

Take Care of Yourself

With all the craziness that comes with recital season, you need to make sure you’re taking good care of yourself. Stay hydrated, get plenty of sleep and opt for convenient, healthy meals instead of fast food after late classes and client visits. You might think that feeling pulled in a million directions all at once is a normal feeling as the recital approaches, but neglecting your health only makes it more likely that you’ll wake up the morning of the recital with a throbbing migraine and a sore throat.

And if you’re feeling overwhelmed with stress, take a step back and remember – all the little details are fun, but the true value of planning a dance recital is that your dancers get to share their passion and hard work with loved ones and a community who cares.

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How to Become a Dancer

how to become a dancer

Being a dancer is about so much more than just learning choreography and proper technique. It’s also about what’s happening on the inside, in a dancer’s soul. Dancers are artists who use movement to express themselves and connect with others, creating something beautiful with every jeté or plié. Becoming a dancer requires hard work, sacrifice and a willingness to make yourself vulnerable, but the rewards of a life devoted to dance make it all worthwhile. Take a look at these tips for how to become a dancer.

Why Dance?

Dancing is not only healthy for your body, but it’s also good for your spirit and sense of self. Identifying the ways that dancing attracts and affects you on a personal level can help you become a better dancer and persevere through difficult times. The Huffington Post asked professional dancers why they dance, and the answers were both touching and thought-provoking.

Kayla Rowser, a dancer with the Nashville Ballet, said, “I dance because I love sharing a piece of my soul with the world through movement.”

“I dance because I enjoy expressing my feeling and emotion in many ways. And it makes me happy,” responded Ballet San Jose dancer Maykel Solas.

Other respondents answered that they dance because it helps them get in touch with their emotions, makes them smile and helps them express themselves without using words. Others dance because they have to, and many echoed dance teacher Amanda Trusty who said “I dance because sometimes it’s the only way I know how to speak.” Part of becoming a dancer is recognizing what drives your passion and what draws you to dance.

The Beauty of a Life Devoted to Dance

There are many amazing advantages to devoting your life to dance. The hard work and determination required to overcome challenges in your dancing can teach you how to deal with obstacles and setbacks in other areas of your life. You become fluent in a beautiful, powerful language that many people never get to learn, and the close attention to detail and eye for aesthetics that you develop as a dancer helps you see and appreciate beauty in all other aspects of life. You become more confident in not only your skills and talents as a dancer, but in your ability to truly and fearlessly be yourself.

As Dance Advantage noted, “There’s not much you need to know in life that you haven’t already learned in a dance class.”

Dancing also contributes to the wellness of both your body and mind. Dancing strengthens your core and keeps your heart healthy, eases depression and anxiety and promotes mindfulness, according to Berkley Wellness. All of these benefits add up to a healthy body and a positive outlook on life.

The Costs of a Life Devoted to Dance

But being a dancer is no easy role to take on. You will be pushed to the limit of what you think you can achieve physically and mentally. You will face imposing challenges, intense nerves and harsh disappointment, and will have to make certain sacrifices along the way. While your friends are able to spend time hanging out on the weekends, you may need to head to class or travel to a performance. You might need to devote years to intense training to learn proper technique and improve as a dancer, especially for classical forms.

But the beauty of these trials and tribulations is that you come out the other side even stronger than before.

Achieving Your Dreams

If the costs don’t faze you and the advantages excite you, then don’t wait another minute to pursue your goal of becoming a dancer. Sign up for introductory classes at a studio in your area and begin your dance journey. ArtsAlive recommended expanding your knowledge about dance by attending as many performances as you can and learning about dance online and in books and magazines. Try taking a few classes in different styles of dance to learn which bests suits your talents and personality. Seek out summer programs and workshops, which can be great opportunities to hone your craft.

Remember that you can still be a dancer even if you have a day job. If dance adds meaning to your life, make it a part of your life in whatever way you can, whether that means taking a beginner class, buying a barre for home use or volunteering to help organize local performances.

Constantly challenge yourself, too. As Rebecca Brightly wrote on her blog Dance World Takeover: “Practice is not “the thing.” Do The Thing you actually want to do! Perform, enter comps, choreograph, teach, film dance videos—whatever calls to you. Go do lots of that, then do lots more.”

When you’re practicing and challenging yourself, think about what devoting your life to dance means to you. For some, that means joining a company as a professional dancer, for others, it means teaching or choreographing dance. The important thing is to think about what excites your soul.

Fall in love with dance, and when hard times come, remind yourself why you love it all over again. Training and practice are the building blocks, but it takes passion to truly become a dancer.

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Dance Choreography for Kids: Teaching Tips

dance choreography for kids

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

Keep It Simple

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

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

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

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

Recognize Rhythm

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

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

Build Repetition into Choreography

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

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

Reward Students

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

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

“Positive reinforcement makes all the difference.”

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

Focus on Fun

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

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

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Backstage Management Tools for Dance Recitals

Backstage Management Tools for Dance Recitals

As a studio owner, I have three lists running in my brain at all times. I’m always asking myself the following three questions:

What needs to be done today?
What needs to be done in the next 2-6 months?
What can I make for dinner without going to the store?

(Not kidding on that last one. Anyone whose business is open almost exclusively nights and weekends is sure to have some challenges in the getting-dinner-on-the-table department!)

But, back to practical things. It’s the second week of March, so while our bodies are busy distributing recital costumes and getting ready for competition, our minds are on RECITAL. And, a great show from the audience perspective is dependent on having an awesome act backstage.

Are you gearing up for recital? Keep reading for 5 Backstage Management Tools to make your backstage flow smoothly this year for all ages!


  1. Entertainment reigns supreme for little ones.  
    At our recital, we run different types of activities to keep little kids entertained backstage. First are the quiet hands-on activities such as drawing, reading and making crafts. When the attention for crafting wanes, we watch a bit of a movie. Nothing lasts more than 20 minutes, so we rotate activities often.
  2. Manage quick changes for really little ones by using “shape cards.”  
    It was a real “a-ha” moment for me as a teacher when I realized that the reason our little kids couldn’t keep track of their things backstage was because they couldn’t read yet. Now we line up their shoes, accessories and costume changes on easy to identify “shape cards.” Three- and four-year-olds may not be able to read name labels, but they won’t forget their items are on the card shaped like a sunshine! Other shapes include rainbows, stars, clouds, animals and more. Get creative. Kids love picking out their “shape cards!”
  3. Have a backstage “show.” 
    Our younger dancers wait for their turn in the show in a large room just off the true backstage area. We take advantage of the generous space by having older girls practice their dances in front of the little ones backstage before they hit the big stage. This serves two purposes: First of all, you don’t want the first time that your older students run their choreography that day to be on the stage. The backstage “show” takes care of this. Second, the little kids don’t ever really get a sense of how amazing it is to be in your studio’s production if they only see the stage for a few minutes during the entire show. Sharing dances helps the little ones see a mini-version of recital and increases their understanding of the bigger picture.
  1. Have a code word, hand signal or rhythm clap for getting attention.  
    All of our students know that when they hear the iconic “clap, clap, clap clap clap,” it’s time to listen. The students repeat the clap pattern in a call-and-response fashion followed by silence. If your waiting area is too close to the stage for rhythm claps, consider having a hand signal for silence. We use the “quiet fox,” which is a hand signal where the third and fourth finger touch the thumb and the pinky and pointer go up for the fox’s ears. If a teacher puts up her fox, it’s a race to see how quickly the kids can put up their foxes as well. The “quiet fox” was intended for little ones, but I think the older ones get more of a kick out of it than the little ones do.
  2. Keep performers moving “stations and checkpoints.”  
    Another go-to that we use backstage with all age groups is “stations and checkpoints.” Students stay in their dressing room until called by the stage manager. From that point they go to a costume checking station where everyone is checked for accessories, correct shoes, clean tights and tidy hairstyles. If anything needs attention it is taken care of before hitting the true backstage area. Next, they are “in the hole,” which is the area just outside the backstage followed by “on deck,” which is true backstage or side stage. And then, it’s time to dance on stage! The whole process is both very orderly and anticipation-building for the dancers.

Do you have a great tool for backstage management? I’d love to hear  from you in the comments below.

Merde! 

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Making Creative Movement Lesson Plans

creative movement lesson plans

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

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

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

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

Areas to Cover When Making Creative Movement Lesson Plans

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teacher Tips

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

Exceptional Considerations

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

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

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Improvisation Dance: Can Improv Lead to Better Choreography?

improvisation dance

The thought of improvising dance may make you nervous, but improvisation dance could be the secret to better choreography.

Just like taking a walk around the block helps clear a stressed mind, an hour of so of improv can spark creative ideas. In an interview with KQED News, Deana Criess, director of ImprovBoston’s National Touring Company, espoused the benefits of making things up as you go along. And even though her organization focuses on comedy, the inspiring power of improv is applicable across artistic and athletic disciplines.

Criess told the source that improv boosts quick thinking, helps clear away distracting thoughts that take us out of the moment and strengthens our communication skills and self-expression. Instead of constantly judging yourself for missing a step or being offbeat, improv dancing allows you to be spontaneous and tune in to your inner self.

Personal Identity

Every dancer and choreographer is different, possessing a unique set of beliefs, values, talents and dreams, and the greatest joy of dancing comes from being able to be the best version of yourself. However, it’s easy for these one-of-a-kind attributes to become a little muddled when you’re constantly doing the same dances or formulating choreography with a repetitive, static approach.

By not worrying about directions and simply letting your body move the way you want it to, you’re able to identify certain motions that particularly connect with you, DanceSpirit Magazine noted. Connecting with your own preferences also helps you to better identify the unique styles of other dancers. You can then use this inspiration to breathe new life into your choreography and craft dances that respond to people’s strengths or challenge their weaknesses to improve.

Creating a “Toolkit”

Sometimes, choreographers fall into ruts where they use the same combinations of positions and skills over and over again. Improv can help you build a collection of new movements that you can then have at your disposal to keep your choreography fresh and exciting.

An article on Backstage.com profiled Helen Pickett, a dancer who teaches classes based on innovative choreographer William Forsythe’s improvisational technique. Forsythe would break improvisation into around 30 smaller, individual movements, which he called “modalities,” the site explained. These smaller movements, like collapsing and folding, then served as building blocks to create new dances.

“It opens up avenues that allow you to expand your ideas of what you thought you body could do,” said Pickett of the Forsythe method.

New Paths

The thought of improv makes many people self-conscious, but the very act of exposing our unguarded selves to others helps improve creative thinking and problem-solving skills. You learn that taking unexpected or approaches to problems can yield beautiful solutions, and let go of fear and self-doubt. Becoming more comfortable with thinking outside the box will help you expand the scope of what you believe you can achieve through your choreography. You also learn to trust yourself and to have faith in your unconventional ideas.

Tips for Improv

The first step to productive improvisation is casting all doubt, anxiety and self-consciousness aside. Don’t worry about what others will think of you, since improv is about getting in tune with your inner thoughts and artistic expression, not about others’ perceptions of your movement.

While you can simply turn on some music and start moving, a little structure can help guide your improv dance. Human Kinetics recommended following simple rules that force you to move creatively. For example, move in a circle on the floor, but only begin steps or movements with your left foot, or, go from one corner of the room to the other starting low to the floor and ending up as high above the floor as possible by the time you make it to the other side.

Inspiration can come from anywhere, not just music, and the site also suggested picking an art object or image that speaks to you and mimicking the patterns of shapes of the piece through movement, and then repeating your motions, observing how your movement changes in its reflection of the shapes. You can also pair each movement with an emotion that the artwork provokes in you, and move through each feeling as you mimic the patterns or shapes.

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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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