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Tag: positive classrooms

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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How to Start a Special Needs Dance Program

One amazing trend that’s been gaining a lot of attention in the dance community in the past few years is new programs for children with special needs. These classes, often called adaptive dance, allow kids of all ages and abilities to experience the mental and physical perks of dance class, all while having a blast with other students. If you’ve been considering starting an adaptive dance program at your studio, you may be wondering what it should entail and how to get it off the ground. Here are some tips that will help you cater to the children in your community with a special needs dance program.

The Benefits of Dance Classes

It often helps to understand just how dance classes can benefit students with special needs. Michael O’Donnell, whose 6-year-old daughter Kiera has Down’s Syndrome, explained to San Diego Family magazine that adaptive dance classes have a number of benefits for both the children and society.

“Dance allows creative expression, both individually and in a group setting, encourages exercise and promotes healthier living,” O’Donnell explained to San Diego Family magazine. “An argument can be made that dance stimulates the intellect and learning as well.”

Further, dance classes allow children to become comfortable interacting with new people. On the other side of the same coin, having an adaptive dance class will help to break down barriers between your existing students and their peers with special needs, fostering strong and inclusive relationships.

Considerations When Starting a Special Needs Dance Program

One of the most important things to consider when you start forming a new program is whether you have an experienced teacher. Expert Beacon explained that you’ll want someone who has experience working with children with special needs to teach or at least help out with the class. If you can’t find a teacher who fits the bill, consider partnering with a occupational therapist or special educator in your community. They’ll be able to help you create a class plan and run each session.

You’ll also need to think about your studio’s accessibility. If you’re on the first floor, this shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you have a second- or third-floor location, make sure there’s an easy way for handicapped individuals to reach you. Otherwise, you may not be able to welcome all potential students.

Finally, pick a day and time that will be convenient for your new students. Dance Advantage explained that students with special needs and their parents often strive for consistency in their schedules, so it’s important to hold classes at the same time each week. This will help minimize any problems regarding rides, work schedules and other commitments.

How to Spread the Word About Your Classes

Once you’ve figured out all the logistics, it’s time to find students for your new adaptive dance program. Dance Advantage explained that other community organizations that cater to individuals with disabilities are usually willing to help spread the word about dance classes. Reach out to your local chapter of the Special Olympics or a community center to see if they’ll help you publicize your program.

You can also reach out to local schools and employ traditional marketing strategies, like posting fliers, using ads or posting on social media. Encourage your current students to share social posts and talk to their friends about the new program. Before you know it, you’ll likely have a fresh group of dancers who are ready and eager to learn all that you have to offer.

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How to Create a Dance Class Syllabus

dance class syllabus

You probably have a system for planning classes for dance season. Maybe you have some tried-and-true methods that you’ll be repeating or perhaps you’re going to revamp your class structure to better your studio. Either way, you should make a point to create class syllabi for the different courses you’ll be offering in the coming season. Here are some of the benefits that studio owners can reap from a structured dance class syllabus and a few pointers for drafting these documents.

Benefits of an Established Syllabus

A carefully crafted syllabus can benefit not only the teachers, but the students as well. When you take the time to create these documents for your classes, you can ensure that everyone will have a better experience at your studio.

The perks for instructors include:

  • Syllabi help teachers prepare for classes.
  • The document helps teachers keep the course on track throughout the year.
  • Syllabi serve as a reminder of the skills teachers need to cover.
  • It helps staff enforce studio policies.
  • It clearly establishes behavioral expectations for students.

According to the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, the benefits of syllabi for students include:

  • The document can help students establish educational plans. In this case, it helps them to plan their growth as dancers.
  • It provides essential information, such as contact details, class times, rehearsal schedules and the like.
  • A syllabus serves as a remind of studio policies on behavior, dress code, attendance and more.
  • It informs students of what they’ll be learning, when they’ll be learning it and what they need to do to succeed in the class.

What to Include in a Syllabus

When you first sit down to create a syllabus, you may be tempted to simply jot down all your thoughts and goals for the class. This is a good way to get your thoughts down on paper, but you’ll want to create a document with a little more structure.

Start by writing the static parts of your syllabus – these sections will likely remain unchanged between courses and seasons. If you have a studio contract, you may even want to simply copy and paste the sections about classroom behavior, attendance, proper attire and other studio rules.

Next, you’ll want to create sections like:

  • Instructor info: Note who will be teaching the class and his or her contact information.
  • Class description: A general description of the course, genre and skill level.
  • Course goals: List the skills and techniques that students will ideally master over the course of the season.
  • Class timeline: Lay out the major events and lesson plans that will take place in the class. Include the topic for each class, as well as dates for performances and dress rehearsals if you know them.

Once you have these sections written, you may want to have the instructor look over the document and make changes or suggestions. This will ensure that the syllabus is a team effort and that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the class.

Don’t Forget to Revisit Old Syllabi

If you have syllabi that you’ve been using for years, it’s a good idea to revise them each season. After all, there are likely things that your studio could be doing better and you’ll want to reflect those changes in the document.

“We constantly reassess what we are doing, but it’s the team effort that makes it successful,” Peter Stark, dance department chair at the Patel Conservatory, explained to Dance Teacher magazine. “Star students come and go, star teachers come and go, but a methodology can maintain through that.”

Once you’ve written, revised and reviewed your syllabi, you’ll be ready to distribute them to the students, post them on your website and jump on into the new season of dance.

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How to Create Believable On-Stage Dance Chemistry

dance chemistry

Chemistry is an essential part of many dance performances, especially duets. However, it’s a little bit like musicality – difficult to explain and even harder to teach. After all, many people might say that dance chemistry can’t be learned, it just has to be felt.

That’s not entirely true though. Talented dancers can figure out ways to amp up the sizzle when performing with a partner. It just takes time and lots of practice. Here’s what dance teachers should know about improving on-stage dance chemistry between their students.

What Qualifies as Good Chemistry?

So what exactly is “good chemistry”? Well, similar to musicality, it’s something that you know when you see it. When a dyad can work seamlessly and dance effortlessly together, that’s chemistry. However, contrary to popular belief, there don’t have to be any romantic feelings between the partners for them to have that special connection. Trust and mutual respect are often the key components of believable on-stage chemistry.

Some past performers on “So You Think You Can Dance” explained you can create natural chemistry by drawing from real life experiences. Hear what they had to say in the video below.

Tips to Improve Dancers’ Connections

When you first pair up dancers to perform together, they’ll probably feel a little awkward. That’s completely natural, as it can be uncomfortable to let someone into your personal space. However, it’s your job to work with them to establish the levels of trust and comfort necessary to create believable on-stage chemistry.

“Encourage your dancers to get to know one another.”

The first step toward better dance chemistry is often for dancers to get to know one another. Encourage the performers to talk about the performance and what they hope to get out of it. Fostering open lines of communication will help the pair feel more at ease with their performance.

Next, your dancers will need to get comfortable dancing in tandem and feeding off one another’s energy. Dance magazine explained that your students will need to be comfortable making eye contact if they want to give a great performance.

“Establishing eye contact is the biggest thing—it’s all in the eyes,” Victoria Jaiani, a member of the Joffrey Ballet, explained to Dance magazine. “From the first moment of the first rehearsal we need to learn how to look at one another. It helps us breathe in the music together.”

From here, the best way to improve on-stage connection is simply to practice. The more dancers work together, the stronger their bond will be. However, it’s essential that both partners are working toward the same goal. If one member thinks he or she is better than the other or isn’t willing to collaborate, the pair may run into problems along the way.

“We have to leave our ego outside the dance studio,” Junio Teixeira, a member of the New Jersey Ballet Company, told Dance Informa. “When both dancers are trying to reach the same proposal, the partnership will reach a great level.”

Don't let your dancers forget about connecting with the audience. Don’t let your dancers forget about connecting with the audience.

Another Kind of Chemistry

While having a connection with one another is essential, remind your dancers not to forget about connecting with their audience. Plenty of eye contact, smiling and a general openness will make performers seems more likable to the people they’re entertaining.

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Hiring Dance Teachers: The Qualities of a Great Instructor

dance staff

What makes a dance teacher great? Yes, knowledge of the art form and technical ability are important, but what sets the dancers apart from the teachers? Here are a few qualities that you may want to look for when you’re hiring dance teachers.

Passion

As is important in many other careers, passion is a necessary quality in a superior dance instructor. Not only will love of dance make even the toughest classes enjoyable, but a teacher with continually positive energy will pass that same joy on to young students.

Flexibility

Another important characteristic is flexibility. Dance teachers need to be able to go with the flow, and this is something that poses a struggle for some professional dancers. You never know when a lesson is going to fall flat with students or when a class will be particularly rowdy. A great teacher will adjust on the fly and make the most of each class, even when things don’t go according to plan.

Dedication

Great dance teachers are often set apart from mediocre instructors by their dedication to the job at hand. Teachers who aren’t fully committed to explaining the necessary skills and molding young dancers often let little things slide in the studio. Maybe they aren’t willing to help out at dress rehearsal or won’t commit to extra hours with a struggling student. The once-in-a-lifetime teachers are the ones who are willing and ready to go the extra mile in the name of teaching.

Patience

Patience is a necessary virtue for all types of teachers. There will more than likely be difficult days with challenging students, and an awesome teacher will overcome these obstacles without losing her cool. Patience is doubly important for instructors who will be working with young or inexperienced dancers, as these students sometimes need a little extra time to grasp concepts.

Education

Even great dancers with natural teaching ability will benefit from training geared specifically for dance education (as opposed to performance). While there are college programs in dance education, there are also other opportunities for instructors to hone their skills, like the teacher training schools offered by Dance Masters of America or Dance Educators of America. While there may be some positions, like assistant teachers, that may not necessitate a certification, requiring your teachers to have some more advanced credentials will greatly increase the quality and safety of instruction provided by your studio.

Professionalism

Finally, a truly top-notch teacher is one that you can count on to handle parents and students with the utmost grace and professionalism. When you have a great teacher on your staff, you won’t worry about him or her sullying the studio’s reputation by acting inappropriately.

Editor’s note: This article was updated to include additional information on dance education programs.

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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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The End of Year Party: 4 Fun Ways to Celebrate the End of Dance Season

end of year party

After the curtain closes on your seasonal rehearsal, there’s only one essential event left for your dance students: the end of year party! It’s common for many dance teams (sports teams, too) to finish off a successful season with a big party. Students usually bring their parents and siblings, and everyone gets to relax, have fun and reminisce about the past year.

This year, use one of these four fun end-of-season ideas to host a bash that no one will forget.

1. Partner with a Local Venue

If there’s a small business in your community that would be a fun venue for your event, see if they’re willing to partner with you to make it happen. It could be a recreational facility, a pizza parlor, ice cream shop, trampoline park or something else. Many times local businesses will be happy to support your students with a discounted rate or in exchange for in-kind services. You never know until you ask, so put reach out to a few companies. You may be surprised at the generosity that you receive!

2. Hold a Parents vs. Students Game

Get everyone on their feet by organizing a parents versus students sporting event. You can all head over to a local sports field for a friendly game of kickball, soccer or basketball. If you have enough students, you can even make it into a studio-wide tournament. The best part about this idea is that you can have a picnic or barbeque going on at the same time. No one will get bored, and you’ll be able to enjoy the great outdoors.

3. Invite a Guest Speaker

You can bring any party to the next level by having a guest speaker give the end-of-year toast. Some good options for people to invite might include local celebrities, past students who have become professional dancers or even members of a local dance troupe. These people often have lots of advice for your budding dancers, and it will make the event that much more memorable.

4. Have a Pinterest Party

Even if you’re on a tight budget, you can kick your gathering up a notch with some fun party ideas courtesy of Pinterest. Simply search for “dance studio party ideas” and you’ll find lots of great options for decorations, food, games and awards. The best part is that most ideas are do-it-yourself, so you can keep the cost of the party reasonable.

No matter what you do, take the opportunity during your end of year event to invite students back for the following year. Make sure parents have information about upcoming events and camps, and give them the opportunity to sign up during the event.It’s a great opportunity to capture registrations from the folks who haven’t yet committed to the coming dance year!

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Summer Dance Intensives: How Dancers Can Make the Most of Them

Summer dance intensives

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

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

Keep a Positive Attitude

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

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

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

Write It All Down

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

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

Don’t Only Focus on Skills

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

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

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

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4 Tips for Screening Employees for Your Studio

Screening Employees

When you’re hiring new dance instructors, it’s essential that you take the right steps when it comes to background screening. It’s part of your responsibility as an employer to create a safe environment for both students and other employees, and that means looking into the backgrounds of individuals who will be working in the studio. If you’re not currently screening employees or you want to revamp your background check processes, here are four tips that will help you streamline the task.

1. Find a Reputable Company

You probably have a pretty tight budget when it comes to recruiting and hiring, so “free” or “do-it-yourself” background checks may seem like the best option to save money. However, sites the claim to offer free background screening usually have hidden fees or provide inaccurate, incomplete or outdated information. It’s better to look into reputable consumer reporting agencies that are known for working with small businesses. These companies will provide you with quality information at a price you can afford.

2. Create Written Policies

When you conduct inconsistent background checks, you’re opening up a can of legal worms. Consistency is key if you want to avoid any legal issues, so it’s a best practice to put your screening policies in writing. Document the steps you take with each candidate and make sure to keep records of the background checks you conduct. This documentation will be invaluable if legal action is ever taken against your studio.

3. Check References

Another way to ensure the integrity of your potential employees is to check their references. Take the time to call past employers, coworkers or fellow performers. This may eat up a little bit of your valuable time, but you may discover issues that otherwise would go undetected.

4. Check Social Media – Carefully

Looking up a job candidate’s social media sites is a helpful way to get insight on the person’s character, but there are some legal limitations to the information you can gather from these sites. A good rule to follow is that if you can’t legally ask the candidate a question in an interview, you shouldn’t gather the answer from social media. For example, it’s unlawful to ask about a job applicant’s age, race or marital status, so don’t turn to social media sites for this information. Otherwise, you could end up with a discrimination lawsuit on your hands.

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How To Improve Posture in Dance: 5 Ways

How to Improve Posture in Dance

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

1. Use a Visual

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

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

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

2. Stretch it Out

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

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

3. Try Core Exercises

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

4. Help from Props

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

5. Practice Makes Perfect

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

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

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Dance Recital Checklist: Help Students Prepare

Dance recital checklist

Can you believe it’s that time of a year again? It seems like just yesterday students were worried about their first day of dance class, and now the seasonal recital is quickly approaching. Recitals are often the highlight of the dance year, so make a dance recital checklist and help students be adequately prepared for the big day. Here’s how dancers can get ready for their dance recitals.

“Luck favors the prepared, so start early!”

Get Ready Two Weeks Before the Show

Luck favors the prepared, so dancers should start getting ready for their big show with plenty of time before the performance date. This will ensure that you take the time to carefully pack all your supplies and can review your checklist a few times.

When you’re packing for a dance recital, you’ll want to bring many of the same things that you’d bring to a dance competition. Be sure you have proper undergarments, extra tights, all your different shoes and makeup supplies.

Do you have a schedule for the day planned out? While a recital might “start” at 6PM, dancers will be required to arrive early to check in, get prepared, potentially take pictures: there’s a lot going on! As a dance family, make sure you’ve looked through all of the emails and information your studio has sent you to be sure you know little details that can make a big difference, such as:

  • Parking for the recital (guest parking and dancer parking)
  • How to purchase tickets for the performance
  • Where to check in
  • Where to pick up any studio merchandise or flowers for dancers
Have your beauty essentials on hand to touch up smudges and smears. Have your beauty essentials on hand to touch up smudges and smears.

Be Prepared for Unexpected Issues

Any experienced dancer will tell you that there are a lot of little things that can go wrong on recital day. Whether it’s something small like a bra strap breaking or makeup getting smudged, preparation is key to dealing with these issues.

Part of that is getting in the right mindset: attitude can truly make or break your recital experience. Some dancers are predisposed to stage fright, and that’s OK! Just be prepared with a few calming exercises that will help calm your mind and banish those jitters. Try taking a few slow, deep breaths or getting into a relaxing yoga pose.

When you’re waiting backstage, resist the urge to practice your steps. Chances are that you’ve got them down, so focus on getting excited for the performance. After all, it’s your time to shine! Take pictures with your friends, listen to pump-up music or simply visualize your success. Positivity will help you bring your natural radiance to the stage and dance your heart out!

Get excited before your recital - it's your time to shine!Get excited before your recital – it’s your time to shine!

Own Your Show

The recital is an opportunity for dancers to leave everything they have on the stage, and to truly enjoy doing what they love. Your entire dance community will be there, and they’re there to support you! So make the days before your recital count.

Show up to class and give it 100%. Ask questions and make sure you have everything you need to do the best job that you can. And finally, love the dancers who are next to you on stage, and be as supportive for them as you hope they can be for you!

 

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Dance Studio Policy: Accommodating Dietary Restrictions

Dance Studio Policy

According to Food Allergy Research & Education, approximately 1 in every 13 children have a serious food allergy, and the number is rising each year. Because of this trend, there are increasingly strict rules being implemented in schools and day care centers about what foods can be served. While your dance studio probably doesn’t serve up meals to dancers, it’s still important for you to be cognizant about the dietary restrictions of your students and how their needs influence what can be eaten in the studio. Here are a few tips to help you formulate dance studio policy that can accommodate dancers who have dietary restrictions.

No Nuts

One of the most common food issues that you’ll encounter as a studio owner will likely be peanut or tree nut allergies. When one of your students is allergic to these ingredients, it means that you’ll have to be diligent about keeping peanut butter, trail mix, nutty brownies and other potentially dangerous snacks out of the classroom.

It’s a good idea to include a section about food allergies on your registration forms. Once you have a list of students with dietary restrictions, you may want to take time to sit down with each parent and student to discuss how the allergy affects him or her. Some students with minor allergies just can’t eat the ingredients, while others may have a severe reaction simply from coming in contact with nuts. Figure out the best way to keep these students safe, then inform your other parents and dancers of your dance studio policy on nutty foods.

Gluten Gripes

Another food issue that’s increasingly common but that you may not know how to handle is celiac disease. According to the National Center for Celiac Awareness, this autoimmune disease, also known as a gluten allergy, affects 1 in every 133 Americans. Students with celiac disease aren’t able to eat wheat, which means that sandwiches, cookies and other common treats aren’t an option unless they’re specially made.

If your studio holds celebrations for students’ birthdays or other special events, it’s important to keep in mind that some of your dancers may be on a gluten-free diet. Try your best to find food options that everyone can enjoy, whether it’s gluten-free cake or some frozen yogurt. No one wants to be left out because of a food allergy!

Maintaining Proper Nutrition

Besides the logistics of keeping offending ingredients out of the studio, you may also be faced with the issue of helping your students maintain proper nutrition with a food allergy. Experts explain that celiac disease can be challenging for dancers, as wheat products provide much of that needed energy to keep performers on their toes.

“Carbs are important for dancers, period,” Derrick Brown, a nutritionist at Codarts University for the Arts and a former dancer, explained to Dance magazine. “Luckily, there’s plenty of ways to get them without gluten.”

If you find that your gluten-free dancers are lagging during class, you may want to recommend a few dietary tweaks for them. Brown explained to Dance magazine that it’s important for dancers to choose gluten-free foods that are low in sugar and salt. Otherwise, they’ll get a temporary boost of energy only to crash a few hours later. However, be sure that your students are speaking with a medical professional or nutritionist if they have serious concerns about their diets.

When you work to make your studio a place that’s welcoming and accommodating for all students, you’ll have an easier time building strong relationships with your customers and retaining dancers for years to come.

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Ideas for Dance Teachers: 5 Ways to Quickly Learn Your Dancers’ Names

Ideas for Dance Teachers

Amid your other beginning-of-the-season tasks, you’ll probably be trying to learn the names of all your new students. If you’re lucky, a lot of the same dancers will be returning to your classes, but in some cases you may need to commit 50 or so new names to memory. This is a tricky task, especially if you’re not great with names to begin with or if there are five different Ashley’s to remember. Here are some ideas for dance teachers on how to quickly learn the names of your new dance students.

1. Study the Class Roster

If you know it’s going to be a challenge to learn the names of a new group of dancers, give yourself a head start. Duquesne University’s Center for Teaching Excellence explained that it is often helpful if you study the class roster before your first session. This way, you’ll be familiar with the names and will just need to associate them with the right faces. Take a few minutes to review the list after your first few classes and make notes of which names are giving you trouble.

2. Be Honest

You might not want to be the teacher that outwardly admits you struggle to remember names, but that type of honesty is often beneficial. Tell your students that you’re going to learn their names as quickly as you can and set an ideal date for yourself. Chances are that they’ll help you out if they see you’re floundering for someone’s name. This will speed the process along and help you start to build relationships with your students.

3. Make a Conscious Effort

Many times you may struggle to remember names simply because there’s too much going on around you. If you’re silently running through your lesson plan and distracted by kids messing around in the waiting room, you won’t be giving names your full attention. Forbes magazine recommended that you make a conscious decision to focus during roll call. This can really make a big difference in learning the names of all your dancers.

4. Start Classes with a Name Game

If you’re working with younger dancers, don’t be afraid to play fun ice-breaking name games during the first few classes.

“If you can’t remember their names, chances are they can’t remember each others names either,” explained one teacher on Dance.net. “For little ones, every few weeks we play some sort of ‘game’ where everyone says their name.”

With young students, you can ask them to say their names and demonstrate their favorite dance moves. Another option is to pair them up and have the duos share fun facts about each other. You can use similar games with older students, but try to make them a little more advanced or challenging.

5. Try Word Association or Alliteration

Another trick that many teachers use to learn names is to pair each student’s name with some sort of memorable identifier. For example, if you have a student who just moved to town from another state, try to come up with some way to remember that fact. It might lend itself nicely to some alliteration – like Jane from Jersey – or you may have to get a little more creative. Another method of assign identifiers is to pick up on students’ attire, makeup or overall appearance. You’re more likely to remember a cute quip, such as “redheaded Riley” or “sparkly Sarah.”

This tactic is particularly effective if you’re struggling to keep straight a few students with the same name. Maybe you’ll have Limber Liz, Loveable Liz and Lacey Liz – say that five times fast! Whatever nicknames you choose, just make sure they’re positive, in case you accidently use one out loud.

When you find a method of learning names that works for you, it will be much easier to identify your students within the first few classes. When you know their names by heart, it will help you to build personal relationships and give each individual the attention he or she deserves.

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Dance Teacher Ideas: 5 Lessons to Borrow from School Teachers

Dance Teacher Ideas

Teachers make a profound impact on the world. Whether you’re teaching math, science, music, art or dance, you’re helping children to find their passions, boost their skill sets and follow their dreams. While dance instructors might not be able to explain algebra and math teachers can’t demonstrate tombes, that doesn’t mean the different professions can’t borrow a note from each other’s books. Here are five dance teacher ideas that can be borrowed from from school teachers for application in the studio.

1. Listening to Instructions

It doesn’t matter what subject you’re teaching – if your students don’t listen to instructions, they won’t properly grasp the lesson. That’s why both school and dance instructors have to learn how to capture the attention of their students and deliver clear directions. Edutopia recommended that, from day one, teachers establish behavioral expectations when they’re talking to the class. Don’t begin giving instructions until there’s complete silence and you have the full attention of each and every student.

2. Varying Teaching Methods

School teachers quickly learn that all students have different learning styles. You’ll likely encounter similar challenges in the studio, so it’s a good idea to have a few strategies for teaching your dancers. When you keep things fresh, you’ll also make classes fun and interesting for everyone, and hopefully prevent boredom from turning into behavioral problems.

“The more a teacher varies his or her methods to get all types of students involved, the fewer behavior problems he or she will encounter,” Walker School psychologist Neal Clark, M.A., explained to Scholastic.

Even when you have a great lesson plan, it’s best to have a few alternative activities up your sleeve that teach the same skills in different ways. You never know what’s going to be a hit – or fall flat – with students.

3. Collaborating for Success

Another lesson that students need to learn is how to work as a team. Your dancers will have to be able to rely on and trust one another if they want to give amazing performances, so don’t skimp on collaboration activities. Explain to your students the role that teamwork plays in success – both in the studio and outside of it.

4. Getting Parents Involved

Parents shouldn’t just be the vessels that drop dancers off at the studio. Education World explained that parental support can really accelerate a student’s progress in the classroom. Not to mention that parents are amazingly helpful when it comes to fundraising, competition transportation, chaperoning field trips and helping out at recitals. Studio owners and dance instructors should work to build strong relationships with their students’ parents, as it will be beneficial to all parties.

5. Having Fun Along the Way

Any teacher will tell you that it’s just as important for you to have fun as it is to make class fun for the kids. When everyone enjoys time spent in the studio, it will make learning a positive, rewarding experience and keep dancers coming back for more.

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What Are Dance Teacher Responsibilities?

Dance Teacher Responsibilities

Are you hiring new teachers for your studio? Or, revisiting your teacher contracts? If so, you’re probably considering what to expect from your employees. After all, it’s seldom that dance teachers are required to simply show up and teach class – there’s so much more to the role! Having clear expectations for teachers makes for a successful school. Consider these points when laying out dance teacher responsibilities at your studio.

Responsibilities in the Classroom

There are a number of “givens” that you can expect from any employees working in your studio. These include showing up on time, behaving professionally, being prepared and respectful, and successfully teaching the students. However, there are also a number of supplementary responsibilities that you may also want to outline in a teacher’s contract. The UNITY Dance Organizations explained that dance educators should always provide a safe environment for their students, both physically and emotionally. Additionally, it is important that they serve as role models for dancers in terms of sportsmanship, lifestyle choices and attitude.

Expectations Outside of Teaching

There are a number of dance teacher responsibilities outside the classroom. On a daily basis, teachers should be respectful and supportive of other staff members and as open as possible regarding studio matters. Many studios expect their instructors to become familiar with the parents of their students and help to enforce policies on dress code and behavior. These are pretty standard tasks that you do not need to offer additional compensation for. However, be sure to clearly outline these responsibilities in your employment contracts so teachers know what is expected of them.

When Additional Compensation is Required

Outside of these standard responsibilities, there are instances where you may have to offer additional compensation to your instructors. DanceStudioOwner.com explained that many studios pay their teachers extra to attend certain yearly events, such as open houses, competitions and auditions. Similarly, extra tasks like choreographing routines and conducting private lessons should be compensated accordingly. You’ll want to outline your policies and rates for these tasks before hiring new teachers. This way everyone will be on the same page as to what is part of the job description and what is considered extra work.

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