Letter from the Editor: On Trophies, Taboos and All That Jazz
April 1, 2022

Dear DT+ Community, 

Competition season is well underway—and for many of us that means clocking in hours of practice, tackling challenging routines, rounding up all the bobby (and safety) pins you can find and dealing with the stress of a bazillion costumes (some of which might have only showed up in the nick of time). 

Regardless of whether your dancers compete or not, one thing’s for sure: Your commitment to your students’ training and the indomitable team spirit you create each and every day is something we at Dance Teacher applaud you for!

Many of your students might not come away with a trophy. But that’s okay. In “Training for Trophies?” you’ll learn why it’s far more important to cultivate a healthy competitive mindset among your students so that they become mentally resilient. Having such a positive outlook in life will not only help them persevere during competition season, but it will also prepare them to face other competitive situations, such as auditions, sports and academic challenges. 

Another story that I’m excited for you to read this month is about body hair—which remains taboo both to have and discuss in a dance world that harbors both unspoken and spoken rules regarding its removal. But as dance aims to reform itself as a diverse and inclusive form, how do you talk about this intimate subject with your students—and should you? 

In our Technique & Artistry column, you’ll get expert tips on helping your students hone their acting skills and embody character—a skill that will not only benefit them during competition season, but will also prepare them for upcoming recitals. Later this month, Shelly Hutchinson, a contemporary teacher at Broadway Dance Center, shares her advice on teaching students to jump higher. And speaking of jumps, I’m sure you’ll agree with Gretchen Vogelzang, director of the Greater Washington Dance Center, who says that “there’s very little in ballet [or any dance style] that can happen without a really awesome plié.” In her video tutorial, Vogelzang offers a variety of exercises that you can incorporate in class to help your students achieve deep, dynamic pliés.

Our Health & Body stories this month cover everything from foot rehab to first-aid responses. You’ll learn some prehabilitation exercises that are tailored for various types of dance shoes—from pointe to tap and character heels to sneakers—so you can prevent injuries and keep your students’ feet happy and healthy. You’ll also get professional advice on how to stay calm and respond to common first-aid scenarios, from injuries to fainting.

April also happens to be Jazz Appreciation Month, so be sure to check out our teaching resources for iconic jazz choreographer Bob Fosse and Broadway phenomenon Michael Bennett.

And if you’re looking for even more inspiration, read our story about how dance studios across the country are supporting Ukrainian dancers both within the U.S. and abroad.

Finally, here’s a “chicken or the egg” type of question for you. What comes first: choreography or music? Find out what renowned choreographer Tere O’Connor thinks and hear the music that has been inspiring him lately, both in and outside of the studio.

We have so many more stories waiting in the wings, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear how you have used DanceTeacher+’s insights and resources in your own studio or classroom so far.

Drop me a line at [email protected]. I can’t wait to hear from you!

With all my best wishes,
Reanne Rodrigues

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