Letter From the Editor: A Lot to Love this February
February 1, 2023

Whether it’s discussing a budding romance between two dancers, managing the stress of auditions or finding ways to promote body positivity in class, February seems like the perfect time to have heart-to-heart conversations with our students. And this month, you’ll find all the advice you’re looking for right here on DanceTeacher+. 

I’m also delighted to announce that we’ll be launching a brand new column called “Studio Owner Spotlight” this month, in which we’ll be highlighting studios that are making a unique and outsized impact on their students and community. You’ll hear what inspired the founders to open their dance schools, the biggest challenges they’ve encountered, the qualities they look for when hiring dance teachers, their best advice for running a successful and thriving studio business and more. 

And there’s even more good news to share! Starting in March, you’ll receive our exclusive members-only newsletters every other Thursday, so you can stay up-to-date on all the latest news and insights in the world of dance education and get even more brand-new teaching resources delivered straight to your inbox.

There sure is a lot to love on DanceTeacher+ this month, so without further ado, here are all the other great resources we have in store for you: 

Teaching Tips

DT+ Teacher Talk: How to Maximize Your Students’ Turnout Potential with Deborah Vogel on Wednesday, February 15 at 12pm EST: Ever wondered, “is turnout trainable?” “Do growth spurts affect turnout range?” “What exercises can strengthen turnout?” Find out all of this and more in our upcoming live hour-long Zoom discussion, in which Vogel will be sharing her expert insights into the mechanics of turnout, tips for injury prevention, and step-by-step exercises that you can implement in your studio or classroom. For more information click here, and to register, click here

How to handle romantic relationships between students: As much as romantic relationships between peers can be supportive and motivating, there can also be issues such as distractions, lack of focus, influence on partnering dynamics, and impact on relationships with other students. So how can dance educators tactfully handle all these situations calmly and confidently? Stay tuned to find out. 

Teaching with an injury: Whether it’s that small hamstring strain that started last week or the knee discomfort you have been dealing with for years, teaching with an injury can be a literal “pain.” No matter your age, all dance teachers are susceptible to injuries, and in some cases, it may even lead to stepping away from the studio to heal. So how do you manage teaching with an injury, big or small, with practicality, safety, and a positive mindset? New York City Horton teacher JoLea Maffei, who recently returned to teaching after a hip surgery, shares her tips. 

How to be a good reference for a student who is auditioning—and how to politely decline if not: With audition season underway, many dance educators might be approached to either write or provide a compelling reference for their students. For some, this might be a new task to deal with, whereas others might be faced with the dilemma of having to turn their student(s) down. Get our best practices for navigating both scenarios.

Health & Body

How to Model a Supportive Body Image: National Eating Disorders Awareness Week runs from February 20-26 this month, so in our Health & Body column, we’re offering you tools that you can use to model and support your dancer’s body image in class. Registered dietitian nutritionist, Rachel Fine, (MS, RD, CSSD) delves into the subject of body appreciation, body neutrality and body image resilience and how they can be used to reduce body dysmorphia among your students. 

Teaching Techniques

How to Train Students for Quick, Complex Footwork: Fast footwork tests nearly all the technical skills that dancers strive for: Balance, coordination, speed, strength. It can also be a mental game, requiring intense focus and the right combination of freedom and precision. When these all come together, though, it can be thrilling for performer and audience alike. So don’t leave it up to chance—use our expert tips to train your students for confident, powerful footwork.

Lauren and Christopher Grant Teach Their “Superman Rock-and-Roll”: For their lesson plan, the Grants introduce a playful partnering move they call “Superman Rock-and-Roll” that is appropriate for all ages and levels. The duo not only want to give all dancers the tools that will help them confidently and safely conquer partnering wherever they encounter it, but to also bust myths about what partnering looks like, and who can do it. Try it out with your students!

Celebrating Dance Luminaries

In honor of Black History Month we’re spotlighting the extraordinary artists and educators who enlighten and inspire us all year long!

LaTasha Barnes: Though Barnes didn’t come to the professional world of dance until she was 27 years old, what she lacked in early opportunity she more than made up for in star power and success. Barnes is a 2021 Bessie Outstanding Performer award winner and has collaborated with Dorrance Dance, Ephrat Asherie Dance, Timbre Arts Group etc. In this month’s Dancer Diary column, she shares the advice that has made all the difference in her career and the biggest turning point in her training.

Renee Robinson: For the up-and-coming generation, dance history doesn’t always sound like the most exciting course. But for students at The Ailey School, longtime Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancer Renee Robinson is bringing enthusiasm to the class by helping her students make personal connections to the past. Find out what Robinson’s favorite teaching tools are, how she warms up for her physical classes and the teaching prop that has made all the difference in her practice, in this month’s Teacher Tools column.

Ilaria Guera: In our What My Teacher Taught Me column, Alonzo King LINES Ballet’s Ilaria Guera pays tribute to the three most influential women in her career—Alicia Head, Mauyra Kerr and Sandra Chin. Discover how the guidance of these women empowered Guera to succeed in her own dance career. 

Frankie Manning: A man with a million-dollar smile, Manning was a self-taught dancer enthralled with the Lindy Hop, a hyperkinetic swing dance that evolved at Harlem’s famed Savoy Ballroom during the 1920s and ’30s. His predecessors built Lindy Hop from a mix of social dances, like the black bottom, Charleston, mess around, blues, collegiate and breakaway, all popular when dance clubs and big bands ruled the night. But it was Manning who developed the style-defining air steps (lifts), synchronized routines, sharp angles and low-to-the-ground stance that transformed Lindy Hop into a major American ballroom dance craze.

I hope you’ll love reading all these stories and share what you’ve learned from them with your students this month!

Best wishes,
Reanne Rodrigues
[email protected] 

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