Thursday, May 31, 2012

Share Those Performance Pics!

That's a lot of people out there...
With recital season for many North American dance studios upon us, don't forget to participate in May's Dance Blog Challenge:  Performance Pics!

My studio's recital is this weekend, so I will have a post for you sometime next month, but in the mean time, you can check out the two irish step dancing bloggers who have shared some recital photos with us:

Check 'em out!  And then share your favorite photos with us!

No blog?  That's ok - leave a link in the comments to your favorite performance picture.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Using iTunes to Make Class Playlists

I am off doing recital things... so here is a post I think you'll enjoy from the past!  
Originally posted August 2010, updated May 2012
As a dance teacher in the twenty-first century, you can carry thousands of songs in your pocket.

However, just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

Here is how I organize my music library to avoid scrolling through hundreds of songs to find the perfect tempo.  A little organization will save you time and frustration during class.

If you use iTunes, the software allows you make playlists. Use this feature.

Here's how I do it (and you can too!):

1. Create a DANCE MUSIC LIBRARY - Make a playlist for each type of dance you teach. These will be your music libraries.  We'll call these your Dance Library Lists. To make a playlist, click File -> New Playlist. In my case, I have a Ballet, Children's music, Jazz, Lyrical, Modern, Salsa, Showtunes and Tap playlist.

Then drag and drop music that fits these categories from your Music Library into the playlists. Each of these playlists will have hundreds of songs.  Think of them like the old CD racks on the walls of your studio - they contain all the music you might ever want to play in class.  Here is my ballet library playlist - it has 200+ songs and full CDs of ballet music.

2. Create CLASS PLAYLISTS - Now make a playlist for each class you teach. If I am teaching a combination class of tap/jazz, I will often make two playlists. I label mine by the day and time "Tues. 5 - Jazz" or "Tues. 5 - Tap" or "Adult Tap Class".

Side Note:  If you noticed my playlists are numbered, you might be as detail-oriented as I am.  iTunes organizes alphabetically, so Thursday will come before Tuesday if you just label it by day. I add the number in front of it because I am anal and need my classes to be in order!

These playlists are much smaller and I often re-arrange them each month or so to bring in new music. To get new music, I just have to go back to my Dance Library Lists and pull a few songs from there. Here is my Thursday/Friday ballet class playlist. It has 23 tracks. Enough to get through the class and then whatever piece of choreography we are working on that day is at the bottom:

Hint: For my tap classes, I organize my playlist by the tempo. This way, I can find the correct speed in class quickly.  You can add this column by right clicking where the column headings are and selecting "Beats Per Minute".  You will have to manually add any missing BPMs however, which can take some time.

3. Use the FOLDER feature. To make a new playlist folder, go to: File -> New Playlist Folder

Label it something useful (Example: "Classes" folder and "Dance Library" folder) and drag and drop your playlists into that folder.Hopefully this organization system will help you to use your iPod during class and you will be able to quickly navigate thousands of songs.

Syncing Your iPod / iPhone
You may have much more music on your laptop than your phone or iPod can hold, which is where you class playlists will come in handiest.  When you plug in your phone, there is a place to select which playlists to synchronize.  If you have little room, sync only your class playlists.

I might be running out of room on my iPhone...
Side Note:  Your iPod or iPhone will automatically keep your music organized in your folders as well. Bonus!

Choreography Playlists
Choreography: All the songs I am currently choreographing. This makes it easy to find when I am in my car or    and want to listen to my songs.

Potential Choreography: Whenever I hear a song that gives me an idea for a piece, I drop it into this playlist. Even if I can't use it right away, it's there, stored away where I can find it.

Hope this has helped you get organized for class!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Studio Talk: It's Picture Week

This past week was Picture Week at our studio.  We have too many students to hold just one day for pictures, so we take class pictures during everyone's class time for one week.

Got all stocked up on safety pins, bobby pins and hair spray in case anyone forgot to do their hair or fix their costumes (there's always a few!).

Our photographer sets up his backdrop and equipment in our biggest studio.  We take a group photo that will be hung up in our studio and then anyone who wants to do an individual photo also gets their photo taken.  We also do sibling photos and smaller groups if the parents request it.

Pros to having a photo week v. photo day - It is more convenient to the families and we have better attendance for the group photos.  Not having it on a weekend is one less weekend in April/May to fight against graduations, proms, concerts, Mother's Day, etc.

Cons - For many of our classes, this means that we lose a class to picture day.  With some of the smaller classes and baby classes who don't do much moving around with their dances, we can practice in the space leftover in the studio.  Larger classes aren't able to practice on picture day, so they just get their class picture, any individuals and go home.  Being so close to the recital is tough to lose a class.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Performance Pinspiration

In honor of May's Blog Challenge, Performance Pics, I scavenged Pinterest for some great pictures that made me think of those exciting minutes leading up to a great performance!

Check out these photos and follow me on Pinterest while you're at it!

Hair and make-up first...

Source: Pinterest
Russian State Ballet - Photo by: Helen Maybanks Photography

Warm-up before the show

Russian State Ballet - Photo by: Helen Maybanks Photography

Peeking to see if your special audience member arrived yet:

Azra Šahinović Photography
Photo by Natalie Frigo

The busy dressing room, everyone rushing to make sure everything is perfect.

Source: Tumblr

Finding your way backstage, calming your nerves and getting ready for the show to start. 

Source: Pinterest

One more run-through before going on stage...

Source: Tumblr

Waiting for the cue..

Source: Tumblr

 Follow The Dance Buzz on Pinterest for more awesome dance photos!

Do you have a pre-performance ritual or a favorite part of the performance?  Share below in the comments!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

10 Hair & Make-Up Tutorials For Recital

Recital season is upon us in the US, and with it comes lots of parents and kids who have never done stage hair or make-up before!  I used to do demonstrations for some of my classes, but it is difficult to find the time when everyone is available, so I have switched to emailing YouTube links.  My students' parents love it when I point them to a YouTube tutorial - and I have learned a few tricks myself!

Here are some of my favorite tutorials for applying stage make-up and doing hair.  And be sure to share your favorite tips and tricks in the comments!

For older students:
  (JAM Cosmetics)

For children:
  (JAM Cosmetics)

From start to finish w/little explanation, just her applying make-up:

More specific tutorials

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dance Imagery, Illustrated

Finally got around to posting this for the April Challenge - favorite Dance Imagery!

I was reading Moira's response to the challenge about Irish Dance imagery (or lack thereof) and realized that all of my imagery happens when I teach modern, jazz or ballet... not too much in tap class.  I am going to pay attention in the next few months and see if I can't come up with some tap imagery.

In the meantime, here are my favorite images, which all happen to be in ballet.  Probably because my youngest students are my ballet class and I try to use a lot of imagery to help concepts stay in their minds and bodies.  Enjoy... and please don't laugh too much at my drawing skillz :)

Balloons on the ears!
Balloons tied to your ears:  To keep necks long, and ankles, knees, hips and shoulders over toes in releve, I ask my students to pretend they have balloons tied to their ears to keep them lifted up.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

May Blog Challenge: Performance Pics

Many of us are getting ready for their recitals or spring performances this time of year.  The weeks leading up to the big performance are exciting and stressful, but are worth it in the end.  For studio owners and teachers, you may be wishing it was over sooner -- check out our mantras for surviving recital season.

To keep things stress-free, this month's challenge is easy peasy... it's a photo challenge! Share a picture that relates to a dance performance--it can be part of the preparation, dress rehearsal, backstage, final performance... it's up to you!

Share one, three or a hundred photos!

Blog Participants
Irish Dance Recital Pics from Rince Go Bragh
Performance Pinspiration (TDB)
Irish Dance Recital from Moira

Post a your dance photo(s) on your blog, and then come back here and leave a comment with a link to your post so we can all share!

Don't have a blog? You can still participate!  Just leave a comment below with a link to your picture, or post your picture on our Facebook wall.

Click here to see past blog challenges.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mantras for Recital Season

Sometimes recital season makes studio owners and teachers want to pull their hair out!  Here is a list of mantras to keep you going, keep you positive, or make you smile, even through the most stressful days.

I think I can, I think I can!

It's almost over... It's almost over...

Tutus... sequins... and glitter... OH MY!

One step at a time.

When in doubt, fade the music.

Dress the part.  Act the part. 

No words, just the sound of a cork *popping* out of a wine bottle in X weeks...

When in doubt, just take the next step.

Keep your head up.

No one reads handouts or signs.  Just accept it.

You can do it!

Keep calm and carry on.

No matter how good or bad the current situation is, it will change.


Hairspray, duct tape and safety pins will fix anything.

It's not brain surgery, it's dance.

I am strong. I am awesome. I will succeed.

Best wishes for your recital this year!
~ Cait
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