Letter From the Editor: A Fall Filled With Tips, Tricks and Treats!
October 3, 2022

Dear DT+ Community, 

Fall is in full swing, and for many of us dance educators and studio owners, it might just be our favorite season of the year. From being able to reconnect with our students after the summer break to teaching exciting new choreography for end-of-year performances (including The Nutcracker), October promises to be a month full of treats—and of course tips and tricks which we have plenty of in store for you. 

I’m thrilled to announce that this month, we’ll be launching a brand new column called “Office hours with….” in which we’ll spotlight exceptional educators from K-12 schools, studios, universities and conservatories. You’ll discover what these educators love most about teaching, the biggest challenges they experience and their advice for educators like yourself who are committed to inspiring and empowering the next generation. 

Here are some of the top stories you can look forward to on DanceTeacher+: 

Teaching Techniques

Moving Explosively: Helping your dancers learn to “eat up space” can be as much a psychological challenge as a physical one. But the dancers in Abby Zbikowski’s Abby Z and the New Utility company travel across the stage with such force and explosive power that it feels miraculous when they’re able to stop quickly (and not crash into each other!). Zbikowski shares advice on how you can achieve the same results with your dancers.

Lesson Plan from Kendra Portier on “Sand”: Kendra Portier, a dancer and assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies, teaches a unique concept called “sand,” which functions like a more full-bodied take on tendus. According to Portier, “sand,” which builds from a step-touch and involves “licking the floor” with the feet to move imaginary sand on the back diagonal, works for a variety of age and skill ranges as well as purposes. 

Lesson Plan from Maguette Camara on the “lendjeng:” Later this month, West African dance educator Maguette Camara, who instructs at The Ailey School, The Ailey Extension and the Barnard College dance department, alongside directing his company, Manekadang-Dance and Drum, teaches the “lendjeng”—a celebratory dance from the Mandinka people that looks like a bird flying.

Baye & Asa playlist: This dynamic dance duo and one of Dance Magazine‘s 2022 “25 to Watch” picks share their specially curated playlist with DanceTeacher+ members. Be sure to tune in to give it a listen later this month.

Health & Body

Emotional eating: Do you consider yourself to be an emotional eater? Late nights and stressful schedules often become the norm for dance educators and relying on food to cope with heightened emotional triggers seems like the easy way out. Because the relief food can provide is only temporary, we bring you expert advice on constructing a more productive plan.

The MELT Method: From dense lacrosse balls to sections of PVC pipes, dancers and dance teachers have a knack for finding creative tools to relieve their very specific muscle aches and pains. Now, there’s a gentler, fascia-related bodywork technique called the MELT Method that dance teachers might want to consider. We discuss some of the ways MELT can address the unique physical challenges that dance teachers face and serve as a valuable injury-prevention resource for the dancers they instruct.

Recognizing and addressing the physical signs of anxiety: The intense environment of a dance class can be anxiety-including for dancers, and it’s important to spot the physical signs and to know how to address them appropriately. Psychologist Dr. Nadine Kaslow and University of North Carolina School of the Arts faculty member Laura Martin provide professional advice on how you can manage this common condition.

Supporting Your Students

Stage fright: Your pulse is racing. Your mouth feels dry. And you can’t stop sweating. We’ve all experienced these scary symptoms right before stepping on stage. Performance anxiety can sabotage even the most talented dancers, and with Halloween around the corner, it seems like the perfect time to talk about the techniques that you can implement in the studio to help your students cope with stage fright. 

College recruitment: As with any audition process, college applications can be rigorous and stressful for dancers and dance teachers and coaches who play important roles as mentors and supporters. Find out more about the steps you can take to help your dancers navigate the process smoothly.

How to prepare US students to train and compete abroad: The process of prepping your students to dance, tour, compete internationally can be exciting but also daunting when you factor in visa and travel arrangements, etc. Learn the ins and outs of how you can make the entire process smooth and efficient from start to finish.

Celebrating Dance Luminaries

Dulce Escebedo and Tatiana Melendez: In the second half of Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month, we’re continuing to spotlight the Hispanic and Latinx trailblazers who have lit up the dance and dance education world with their artistry. Hear from Dulce Escebedo, choreographer and co-director of Tijuana’s Conservatorio de Danza Mexico (CDM) in our Dance Diary column, and find out who Tatiana Melendez, dancer with Complexions Contemporary Ballet, considers her biggest role model in our What My Teacher Taught Me column.

Sofia Zobel Elizalde: October also happens to be Filipino American History Month and so we’re taking you across the world to meet Manila-based dance teacher, Sofia Zobel Elizalde, who is the founder and managing director of Steps Dance Studio. With former students budding in dance companies such as American Ballet Theatre, it’s no wonder that close collaborator Stella Abrera calls Elizalde a “godmother” to her students.

Edwin Denby: An iconic American dance critic and poet, Denby (1903–1983) published two volumes of dance criticism, Looking at the Dance (1949) and Dancers, Buildings and People in the Streets (1965). Learn about the life and work of this perceptive dance writer who wrote about legendary American choreographers such as George Balanchine, Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham and Jerome Robbins.I hope all these articles provide plenty of insight and inspiration for your ongoing teaching journey. Happy reading and learning!

With excitement,
Reanne Rodrigues
[email protected]

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