Monday, December 20, 2010

New Music Mondays: Children's Jazz Playlist

A fun mix of pop hits, oldies and funk that will keep your elementary students moving and grooving in jazz class!

Pop Warm-Up & Cool-Down Songs
These songs have a moderate tempo to get things warmed up without hyping up the class.  Great for exercises like "point / flex", isolations and stretches.  Sometimes I like to use them to calm a class down if they are very hyper.

Kiss The Girl - Colbie Caillat Kiss the Girl - Disneymania 6
Beauty and the Beast - Jump5 Beauty and the Beast - Walt Disney Records Archive Collection, Vol. 2
How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You - Marvin Gaye How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You) - 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: Motown 1960s, Vol. 1
Do You Believe In Magic - Aly & AJ Do You Believe In Magic - Do You Believe In Magic - Single
You'll Be In My Heart - Drew Seeley You'll Be In My Heart - Disneymania 6

Happy Tracks
Great beat, these songs would be good for class or for recital!  They have a loud easy beat to hear and pick up on without being too fast.  I danced to Dinosaur Rock N Roll when I was in 2nd grade and we had a "real" dinosaur (one of the older students) moonwalk across the floor like she says in the lyrics!  It was my favorite dance!

Reach - S Club 7 S Club 7
Fun, Fun, Fun - Sugar Beats Fun, Fun, Fun - Sugar Beats: Car Tunes - Fresh Versions of Retro Pop for Parents and Kids That Are Going Places
Love Train - Sugar Beats Love Train - Sugar Beats: Car Tunes - Fresh Versions of Retro Pop for Parents and Kids That Are Going Places
Little Miss Can't Be Wrong - Spin Doctors Little Miss Can't Be Wrong - Pocket Full of Kryptonite
Dinosaur Rock and Roll - Joanie Bartels Joanie Bartels

Sugar-High Songs
Great for jumping jacks, jump across the floor or to inject some energy if your class starts to nod off! 

Bouncin Off The Ceiling - A*Teens Bouncing Off the Ceiling (Upside Down) - Teen Spirit
Da Roof Is On Fire (Follow the Leader) - Soca Boys The Soca Boys
Happy Boys & Happy Girls - Aqua Happy Boys and Girls - Aquarium
Tra La La - The Banana Splits Tra la La - Tra La La - Single

See previous playlists

Full Disclosure:  I am affiliated through iTunes, so for each purchase you make directly from my site, I receive a small (very small) percentage of the sale.  Thank you!

If you enjoyed this post, take a moment to VOTE FOR US for Top Dance Blog of 2010 by commenting on the post (click this link). Thank you!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Search for Portable Ballet Barres

An example of a homemade metal ballet barre
EDIT: Here is Part 2 - and which barre I chose
EDIT: Here is Part 3, a review (two years later)

I have been on a hunt for cheap but sturdy ballet barres to replace the adjustable single barre we've had at our studio for 20+ years. It no longer "adjusts" and just sits at the lowest setting.

After hours of research on the web, I am deciding whether it's worth my time and effort to build my own, buy a kit or just bite the bullet and pay the shipping for a pre-assembled barre.  After the jump are my research findings - hopefully saving you some time!

If you have any suggestions about ballet barres - chime in with a comment!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Craft: Personalized Ornaments

I wanted to share a gift I made for my youngest students (ages 5-7) that was easy and fast to make...and it was cheap!

24 Shatter-proof Ornaments - $3.50
Permanent Paint Marker - $2.00
Spray Glitter - $2.99
Ribbon or pipe cleaners - $1.99
Cost per student: Around $0.40

If you have more students, the cost per student only goes down because the paint makers and glitter will be able to be used again.  I already had the silver paint marker, spray glitter and leftover pipe cleaners so my only cost was the ornaments - and my students were so excited to see their name on an ornament and moms were appreciative that they weren't getting a sugar-high before dinner.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Studio Owner Buzz: Accounting is Awesome... or is Cash Still King?

This article by NYTimes writer Jay Goltz, is a must-read for small business owners which also means... studio owners.

Many times studio owners open their businesses because they love dance, teaching dance or didn't like the way their previous studio ran things. And many studio owners fail because they don't have any understanding of how a small business operates. To start any business, including a dance business, you need to have a basic understanding of accounting or at the very least, some business understanding.

One trap that many studio owners fall into is not understanding profit, which is discussed in the NY Times article. Business owners will see a steady flow of cash coming in but at the end of the year are shocked when their accountant says they made only a few thousand, if any profit at all!

There are many books out there that are geared towards small business owners who don't want to sift through accounting jargon. Borrow one and read it! Many times, your town or city will have a small business organization who can help you understand. Use these resources before you begin your studio.

First figure out what you need each month to break even. Then look at studios in the area and adjoining areas to get an idea of the range. Then push quality over value. Being the cheapest in the area will only make you look like your instruction is cheap. When it comes to their kids, people want quality instruction. John Morgan of Brand Breakout said it best in his recent tweet: "Don't be the cheapest price in your industry. You'll never win. Sell value, not discounts."

Should you offer multiple class discounts, family discounts or other rewards to your most loyal clients? A word of advice: Make your highest discount the REAL price that you want for classes. If you need to bring in $50 per student, per class, per month, then make sure your lowest discount reflects that. The non-discounted tuition is more money in your pocket.

Even if you have had your studio for a while, but are not seeing the profit you think you should, you can use these resources to make changes to your current tuition system or business plan. If math is not your forte and the word accounting makes you tune out everything else in the sentence... hire an accountant who will review your business and make suggestions. For a few hundred dollars investment, some small changes could result in thousands of more profit for you.

See other articles in Business
If you enjoyed this post, take a moment to VOTE FOR US for Top Dance Blog of 2010 by commenting on the post (click this link). Thank you!

Monday, December 13, 2010

New Music Mondays: Contemporary Playlist, Part 2

The term "contemporary dance" has evolved over the past few years to encompass a variety of dance genres. On TV shows like "So You Think You Can Dance", it overlaps into lyrical, modern, ballet and jazz. Here is a playlist attempting the span the reaches of contemporary dance. Leaning more ballet/lyrical... check out the Slow and Delicate songs. Or pick up the pace for some jazzier selections. Miss your lyrical face? Bring on the angst!

Click here for Contemporary Playlist, Part 1

Soft and Delicate
Lighthouse - Hope
Breakable - Ingrid Michaelson (Bonus: 3/4 Time!) Breakable - Girls and Boys
Glitter In The Air - Pink Glitter In the Air - Funhouse (Deluxe Version)

Picking Up The Pace
Move You - Anya Marina Move You [SSSPII] - Slow & Steady Seduction: Phase II
Help I'm Alive - Metric Help I'm Alive - Fantasies
Rebellion (Lies) - The Arcade Fire Rebellion (Lies) - Funeral

A Bit Angsty
Pitter-Pat - Erin McCarley Pitter-Pat - Love, Save the Empty (Bonus Track Version)
Nicest Thing - Kate Nash Nicest Thing - Made of Bricks (Bonus Track Version)
Broken - Seether ft. Amy Lee Broken (feat. Amy Lee) - The Punisher (Original Soundtrack)

Off The Wall & Slightly Exotic
Hi - Psapp Hi - The Only Thing I Ever Wanted
Drumming Song - Florence & The Machine Drumming Song - Lungs
Amazon - M.I.A. Amazon - Arular

Click here for the full playlist in iTunes
If you enjoyed this post, take a moment to VOTE FOR US for Top Dance Blog of 2010 by commenting on the post (click this link). Thank you!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

New Blog Mascot?

"Hello, I am The Dance Buzz, here to entertain you!"

(By the way, if you have been searching for a full-body-covering bumblebee costume instead of the mini-dress with wings, you can find this on for $30 on I had to sift through hundreds of college girls dressed as "bees" to find this awesome costume. You're welcome.)

'Tis The Season

Ever wanted to know how to create a giant, paper mache nutcracker?

Kathy Barbro has the answer:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Top Dance Blogs of 2010 - We need your vote!

Hello all!  Exciting news!
I'm throwing The Dance Buzz into the ring of contenders for the Dance Advantage's Top Blogs of 2010 contest.  We are entering the "Dance Education/Training" category.

To vote for The Dance Buzz, you simply have to comment on this post.  Couldn't get simpler.  The blogs with the most comments get named Top Blog. 

Since this blog is so new, I am not really expecting to win (would love to, but let's be realistic), so this is more an experiment to say... "Hey!  Is anybody out there?"

So dear reader, if you exist and enjoy the Dance Buzz blog or our tweets, give us a shout out and a vote and if you'd like, a comment about the blog.

Commenting is open until December 22.

Candy Cane Prop

Just wanted to share a cute idea from my Kindergarten and 1st grade tap classes. I saw these lawn candy canes at Wal Mart and picked up a few for $1 each. They are the perfect size for pint-sized dancers to use as tap "canes" and fun for the holidays!

This year I had a hard time finding non-lighted ones, but Wal-Mart had some for 99 cents each. If you wait until after the holidays and find them even cheaper and keep them for next year.

It's funny how creative kids are - within minutes of getting to use the candy canes, they had come up with 4 or 5 different ways of holding the cane I hadn't even considered (including riding the cane like a horse, and putting two canes together to make a large heart).  One word of caution--these canes do look like candy so the first thing my kids started to do was pretend to lick the candy cane! I'm not sure younger students would be able to resist trying to lick the pretend candy... something to consider.

EDIT:  I left these in my car overnight and the cold temperatures made them brittle.  When I went to take them out of my car, a few of them shattered all over my trunk, leaving tiny bits of plastic.  I recommend keeping yours indoors or find a thicker, more pliable material.

For my Kindegarten class (all first-year dancers), I used the Peppermint Stick Strut from Rosemary Boross' "Land of Sweet Taps" CD. The song includes instructions such as "Tap tap tap tap, together, clap", so we modified them to mean "tap (your cane and foot to side), step together and tap cane in front".  The Kindegartners has trouble remembering which end of the cane to hold onto, so we didn't reverse our steps, but kept the cane 'crook' in our right hand for the whole combination.  Their favorite part was walking around the cane.

Lighted candy cane from Boscovs.. too many wires!
For my 1st graders, I used "Sleigh Ride" by Amy Grant.  It is a bit faster, but you can go half-tempo for harder steps.  They were able to switch hands and enjoyed making different shapes with the canes and their formations.

Click here to view the age 6-8 combo I created*
Suggested song: "Sleigh Ride" by Amy Grant Sleigh Ride - A Christmas Album 

*If you read the combo, a quick note about the "giddy up" part... my 1st graders have been flying through our tap syllabus this year and absolutely love cramprolls.  They can do them at a high speed, so during the giddy up part they are able to perform 3 quick cramprolls.  You can modify it to be little ponyjumps (like a pas de chat but parallel or whatever jumping step your class enjoys).

Here are some links to prop suggestions:
What props have you used this or in past holiday seasons?

Blog Soul Searching

Hi all!
Nichelle's Blog Contest really got me thinking. She's asking people to enter their blogs to win "Top Dance Blog" and in order to do that, you have to put your blog into a category.

I realized that when I started this blog three months ago, I naively would have said my category was "Dance". I didn't realize the vast number of dance blogs out there that fill every niche and corner. I took some time to reevaluate where I want to go with this blog and narrow my perspective.

Looking back at posts, my most successful ones were aimed toward dance teachers and studio owners (iTunes post, playlists, new season wisdom) which is not surprising, considering I am both of those. Starting now, I am going to aim more of my posts towards dance teachers and studio owners.

So dear readers, if you are out there, consider this a New Year's Resolution of some sort--my goal for 2011 is to find my blogging niche and fill it! I hope you'll come with me and enjoy the journey!

Monday, December 6, 2010

New Music Mondays: Holiday Music!

Sick of playing 'Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy' for your classes each December?

Here are some fun holiday albums to keep your spirits high!

Boogie Woogie Christmas - The Brian Setzer Orchestra Boogie Woogie Christmas - The Brian Setzer Orchestra
These tunes will keep your feet tapping along to holiday favorites.
Standout Songs: "Sleigh Ride" and "Jingle Bells" are great up-tempo songs, "Winter Wonderland" is medium tempo, and the "Nutcracker Suite" would be great as a large production number!

Merry Mixmas - Classics Remixed Merry Mixmas: Christmas Classics Remix (Digital Version) - Various Artists
An eclectic mix of classic songs performed by classic singers (Ella Fitzgerald, manipulated to have a new beat!
Standout Songs: The latin-styled "Rudolph The Rednose Reindeer (Malibu Mix)", Psapp's updated quirky version of "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm", and the jingly classic "Sleigh Ride (Ralph Myerz Remix)".

Now! That's What I Call Music Christmas 4 NOW (That's What I Call Christmas), Vol. 4 - Various Artists
Great for tweens and teens - but you will need to listen to they lyrics on a few of these tracks.
Standout Songs: Sheryl Crow's "Merry Christmas Baby", "What Child is This" by Carrie Underwood and Sean Kingston's "Drummer Boy"

Joy To The World - Pink Martini Joy to the World - Pink Martini
Many unique takes on the traditional favorites - this album is self-labeled as 'globally minded' and it deservingly so. Unique beats, it offers a lounge-feel without the yawns. Would be great for a modern class.
Standout Songs: "Schedryk" (their take on Carol of the Bells), "Little Drummer Boy", the fun tango-feeling "Ocho Kandelikas" and the celebratory "Auld Lang Syne".

Christmas With The Puppini Sisters Christmas With The Puppini Sisters - The Puppini Sisters
The Puppini Sisters with their three-part harmonies are this generation's Andrews Sisters. A great idea for swing classes.
Standout Songs: "Mele Kalikimaha", the swingy "Step Into Christmas" and "All I Want for Christmas"

Single Tracks
Mistletoe - Colbie Caillat Mistletoe - Mistletoe - Single
Boots - Killers Boots - Boots - Single
Santa Claus Is Comin to Town - Jackson 5 Santa Claus Is Coming to Town - Number 1's: Christmas
Last Christmas - Ashley Tisdale Last Christmas (Single Version) - Last Christmas - Single
Do You Hear What I Hear - Kristina DeBarge Do You Hear What I Hear? - A Very Special Christmas 7

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pump Up Your Blogroll!

Pump up the volume!
Pump up the volume!
Pump up the..oh - sorry, I got a little carried away there.

Looking to round-out your blogroll or RSS feeder? Here are a few dance blogs with some interesting perspectives. Happy reading! - Meg is a Seattle dance specialist working with elementary students in a public school. Her blog offers a unique perspective into working in an education system with dance.

Dave Tries Ballet - Just what the title says... Dave is a guy trying ballet for the first time.

Infinite Body - A blog on arts and culture by Eva Yaa Asantewaa. She also publishes a podcast called Body and Soul.

Dance Pulp - Check out the rest of the site too for interviews and an inside look into the professional dance world.

Monday, November 29, 2010

New Music Mondays: Tween Jazz Playlist

A fun mix of pop hits, oldies and funk that will keep your tweens moving and grooving in jazz class!

Warm-Up / Cool-Down
Just The Way You Are - Bruno Just the Way You Are - Just the Way You Are - Single
Don't Waste The Pretty - Allison Iraheta Don't Waste the Pretty - Just Like You (Deluxe Version)
Mine - Taylor Swift Mine - Speak Now
Unwritten - Natasha Bedinfield Unwritten - Unwritten (Bonus Track Version)

Across The Floor & Center
Halo / Walkin on Sunshine - Glee Halo / Walking On Sunshine (Glee Cast Version) - Glee: The Music, The Complete Season One
Just The Way I Am - Skye Sweetham Unpredictable - Noise from the Basement
Live it Up - Group One Crew Live It Up - Spacebound - EP
Love Generation - Bob Sinclaire Love Generation - Tripeiro Eu Sou
Respect - Aretha Franklin Respect - Aretha Franklin: 30 Greatest Hits
Walkin on Snow - Jordin Sparks Walking On Snow - Battlefield
Love Struck - V-Factory Love Struck - Love Struck - Single
Calabria 2008 - Enur Calabria 2008 - Ultra 2008 - The Singles
Red Alert - Basement Jaxx Red Alert - Remedy
Canned Heat - Jamiroquai Canned Heat - Center Stage (Music from the Motion Picture)
The Way You Make Me Feel - Michael Jackson The Way You Make Me Feel (Single Version) - The Essential Michael Jackson

See previous playlists
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