Thursday, September 29, 2011

Teaching Tip: Sticky Tendus

I got this visual teaching tip from watching my ballet teacher's preschool and Ballet 1 classes.

Her class was practicing tendu and the students had very slow and articulate feet during their parallel (preschool) and turned out (Ballet 1) tendus!  After class, I asked what her secret was and this is how she teaches tendu:

1.  Take out your imaginary piece of gum and chew it up so its really sticky (in the preschool class, everyone gets to say what flavor/color gum they are having)

2.  Take out some of your sticky gum and put it under your toes!  (An explanation of why we only do this with imaginary gum and never at home is also given at this point)

3.  With straight legs, try to slide the foot out... but the toes are very hard to move!  Finally we get all the way out and the gum pulls us back to the starting position.  Repeat while teacher says "sticky sticky (foot slides out) tendu (close)!"

4.  Repeat with the other foot.

As they progress during the year, the teacher only needs to say "sticky sticky tendu" and the students recall the sticky sensation and slow down while pushing through their toes.  I think this imagery would also benefit older students - after all, who doesn't love a little silliness in their class every now and again?

Hope it helps you or your classes!  What teaching tips do you have for tendus?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Just wanted to share this little video!  The human body is pretty amazing.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Teaching Tip: Spaghetti, Meatballs and Pancakes, Oh My!

This creative movement idea was inspired by this Fruit Tree post at Maria's Movers and the comments from Zan (of Hullabaloo Danceshop).  Zan describes her "turnip dance" in the comments and I loved the idea so I've been trying it out with my Modern I / Creative Movement class (ages 8-10).  We have changed it to fit our needs and the kids have come up with different food names (since most of them have never eaten a turnip).  We tried to keep it to somewhat healthy foods.

Our food stretch goes like this (movements in parentheses):
Spaghetti, toast and... pizza?
Ok there's no pizza stretch.. yet!

Flat as a pancake (lie on back)
Round like a meatball (contract and roll into ball on side)
Stretch like spaghetti (stretch long on side, keeping balance)
Flat as toast (lie on belly)
Up like a banana/mermaid (cobra or mermaid pose*)
Flat as toast
Stretch like spaghetti
Round like a meatball
Flat as a pancake (repeat other side)

The only trouble is they always say they're hungry after we do this stretch!

*Some days we do cobra pose (leaving feet on the ground and using hands to push up to stretch back) and some days we do mermaid (lifting feet and kicking arms off ground balancing on belly) - also known as superman pose.

Happy dancing!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tap Teaching Tip: The Snappy Shuffle

This year I have three classes of 1st and 2nd graders in tap / jazz combination class and we are focusing on increasing the speed and clarity of their tap steps.  I've noticed that they are still doing the large "baby" shuffle -- where they use almost their entire leg to swing the foot back and forth to make the sounds.

I was trying to think of a way to help them understand the faster shuffle and we came up with the "snappy shuffle" which we practice during tap barre.  The "snappy shuffle" is a quick shuffle that is small and the dancer uses the knee to do most of the work (lifting the knee up and down as opposed to bringing the whole leg forward and back).

I am having good results so far.  The kids love "going fast" and enjoy the challenge of doing "steps like the big girls/boys".

Now we are working on translating that same "snappy shuffle" into our other steps, like irishes (shuffle hop step) and buffalos (leap shuffle leap).

Here is our tap barre that I use for a warm-up, lately we've been using "He Could Be the One - Hannah Montana to give you an idea of the tempo.

Monday, September 19, 2011

New Music Monday: Currently Loving...

Short music post today - just wanted to share three songs I've been loving lately!

Titanium (David Guetta feat. Sia) - My go-to warm up songs for my older students.  I've been using this in tap and jazz classes as it has a nice steady beat and hasn't been overplayed on the radio yet.

Timshel (Mumford & Sons) - This is a hauntingly beautiful piece that I've been using in my lyrical/contemporary classes.  Easy to put emotion into it.

I'm In Here Piano/Vocal Version (Sia) - I can't help it - I love Sia's voice.  You might recognize her from "Breathe Me" a few years ago.  I just love the different sound she has. I've been using this song in lyrical and jazz class for a cool down.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Great How-To Music Editing Videos

Getting ready for competition or recital season and need to cut music?

Check out the great series of tutorials on music editing by Morriss Partee of SquirrelTrenchAudio. The explanations can get a bit long, but if you are struggling to know how to edit your music, there are some great tips here.

And if all else fails, Morriss also offers custom music editing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Playlist Update for Fall 2011

Now that the studio is open and I'm getting back into the swing of things, I updated some of my playlists for class and wanted to share my favorite new songs with you!  Most of these are from the Top 40 and some are old favorites, but hopefully they might inspire you or give you something new for the season!

Not offered on iTunes:
Pumped Up Kicks (RLYNX Remix) - Foster The People
Party On The Floor - DJ Earworm Remix - check out his other remixes too!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Dance Studio Season Opener

Today was the season opener at my dance studio.  I don't teach on Saturdays, so I worked in the office and got to sit back (ha!) and observe for the first part of the day.

On Saturday mornings, we have many of our preschool classes and I always love watching kids experience the joy of dance for the first time!  I overheard a little girl tell her teacher, "I couldn't sleep last night because I was so excited to do ballet!"

It's also fun to watch the first-time parents... nervous that their child will follow directions or like the class - as a teacher I used to think the parents were watching me, until I had a niece take class and all I wanted to do was watch her!  We had a lot of dads bringing students today, which is also funny to see their reaction to "Daddy, look at my plie!"

After our morning classes, our performance team danced at a local community event (free advertising!) and then I enjoyed the rest of the night off!  After our first week back, I plan to take my office manager out for some margaritas... we've been working so much overtime these last few weeks to get everything ready for today, I think its high time for a night out!

If your studio opened this month, congratulations on a new season!  What did you do on your first day "back to work"?  Did you feel prepared?  Stressed?  Relaxed?  Hopeful?  Leave a comment!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Haute Couture Is.... Pointe Shoes?

And you thought pointe shoes were painful enough!   

Christian Louboutin has always created mind-blowing shoes, but I have to say that these 8-inch heels, his highest to date according to, are ridiculous.

I am ok with ballet and dance setting trends, but there is no way anyone in their right mind would wear them.  If the pointe of them (horrible pun intended) is to make people think about fashion, then its a success! But if hope we don't see these tiptoeing down the runway anytime soon or in any fashion editorials...

Read the rest of the article here or visit for more shoes.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

LXD & Coke Zero

Have you seen the Coke Zero and League of Extraordinary Dancers campaign for a new dance move?

It's still running so there's some time left to enter, but what's also great is they provide some nice dance tracks for you to use in your submission videos AND they are free to download!

The ones that I've listened to would be great to use for hip hop class - plus all the songs are more than 3 minutes long!  I've only listened to a few tracks all the way through and while there are no swear words, you might want to listen to the content to make sure its appropriate for your age group.

To get to the songs, click on How To Participate and select your track and click "Download".

Full Disclosure: Coke or LXD did not pay me to write this!

Monday, September 5, 2011

New Music Monday: Work Playlist

It's Labor Day here in the United States, so in honor, here is a short work-inspired playlist to with a little something for everyone!

These songs would also work great for a job-themed recital - we did "Work & Play" a few years back.

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