Monday, December 15, 2014

New Music Monday: Maps (Maroon5 cover) by Madilyn Bailey

Loving this cover by Madilyn Bailey of the Maroon 5 song, Maps.  I've been using it with my advanced tappers for a little combination.  My tappers call this style "lyrical tap" - when you tap to a song that could traditionally be for contemporary or lyrical.   I like that this song has a lot of pauses in it which are fun to fill with tap!

Grab this song on iTunes

Enjoy - happy Monday!


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fall 2014 Playlist for Teens

We interrupt this renovation saga with a playlist!  I was updating my playlists for the fall and here are a few new songs my teen/college classes have been enjoying.  I say "teens" because some of these songs have some questionable PG-13 subject matter, so use with caution (as far as I know, there are no swear words).

Stretching Songs

Stay High (Hippie Sabatoge Remix) - Tove Lo (questionable subject matter)
Unkiss Me - Maroon 5
Stolen Dance - Milky Chance
My Fault - Imagine Dragons
Work Song - Hozier
First (Hold My Hand) - Cold War Kids

Upbeat Songs

Celeste - Ezra Vine - an indie rock tune, good for warm-ups
Let The Groove Get In - Justin Timberlake
Flirt (Acoustic or regular version) - Zac Waters - both links link to YouTube because this song is not on iTunes yet!!
King of the World - Young Rising Sons
Dear Future Husband - Meghan Trainor (some questionable lines in this song, so beware)
Fireball (Instrumental Version) - In the Style of Pitbull

Lyrical/Contemporary Songs

I Wanna Dance With Somebody - Bootstraps - link opens in YouTube
Still - Daughter
Photograph - Ed Sheeran Riptide - Vance Joy

How has the beginning of the new dance year been for you?  Found any new music?  Share in the comments!

The Dance Buzz is an iTunes affiliate

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Renovation.. Unsteady Progress

A few weeks into June, with nothing other than a new wall accomplished, I admitted to myself that having the room ready for July summer classes was a bit ambitious.  Could we have held classes with a boombox on the carpet?  Sure.  Was that the first impression of the new and exciting space I wanted to give my clients. Uh, absolutely not.

So, onto painting.  But wait!  First the other studio location has to have a pipe burst!  And flood the entire space!  And ruin lots of things!  And require insurance inspectors and summer camp last-minute changes and new rugs and potentially ruined marley!  Because chaos!

::deep breath::

So that was a fun weekend of clean-up and tears and then realizing that a pipe bursting during summer and destroying a bunch of old costumes is not the worst thing in the world, even if it is inconvenient and a pain to clean up (imagine if it happened a week before recital and ruined THOSE costumes?!).  It is also just a bit disconcerting to find your entire space covered in water.

But, back to the matter at hand - oh yeah, I was supposed to be painting, not mopping up water.

And look, a new window!

It turned out, when picking out window sizes that this size was the best one to go with because any bigger was a big jump in expense. 

Making progress...

To Do List
X Connect spaces
X Build waiting room wall
X Waiting room window
X Paint waiting room
X Paint dance room
- Install dance floor
- Furnish waiting room
- Buy sound system
- Ballet barres in dance room
- Order and install mirrors

Next up... flooring!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Renovation Begins...

So the first task in the New Space, was to connect the new space to the old space.

A refresher on what we are trying to accomplish:

So I began renting the space in June with the very, very VERY optimistic goal (did I mention VERY optimistic) of having it ready in time for July summer classes.

My contractor and I went over what I wanted and he gave suggestions and little tweaks that made more sense with things like electrical outlets and windows and building code.

And then on June 2 (five days before our end of year recital) the work began!

It was amazing how quickly the wall went up - they framed it out and had the sheetrock up in no time.  The hole is for the observation window eventually.

Looking through the "window" into the dance room.

And connecting the two space (new space is purple, existing studio is beige).

Ahhh!  I don't know why, but when I saw this, I started getting super excited!  It's real, it's real!

Looking back through at the narrow waiting room.

So that was pretty much it with the professional help other than the mirrors and window installation, the rest is on me and my husband!

To Do List
X Connect spaces
X Build waiting room wall
- Waiting room window
- Paint waiting room
- Paint dance room
- Install dance floor
- Furnish waiting room
- Buy sound system
- Ballet barres in dance room
- Order and install mirrors

Next up... painting!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Summer Moving, Happened So Fast!

Summer moving, havin' a bla-a-ast!

Summer?  In October?  Ok, its been a crazy last few months - but I finally have had some time to write about my summer adventures!  Hope you are all having a wonderful start to your school years - I've missed blogging and am happy to get back to it.

A little background - I have two studio locations, with the smaller location having one dance room. We are in a strip of businesses and we are currently the second-to-last unit from the end. The last unit on our end used to be rented by a Curves (workout for women), but the owner decided to move on and the space went up for lease last January.  It sat vacant for a few months and I looked at the space, did some calculations, negotiated the price and by June, we were in contract!

It may sound like I jumped in quickly, but in reality, I tried to make sure it was a smart decision, talked it over with just about everyone I could think of who could give me some perspective and triple-checked my break-even calculations.

So here is a super short tour of what we started with, and I apologize for the poor quality cellphone pictures:

That is standing in the front of the building, looking towards the back. The doorways back there lead to a utility closet (furnace / AC units) and bathroom.

 And here is standing in the back by the bathroom and looking at the front.  Our existing space is to the right ("through" the purple wall). Windows look out onto the sidewalk and parking lot and there is an exterior door to the left.  Also strangely located air conditioner to the left and yellow ladder, which did not come with the space, much to my husband's disappointment.

Here is a floorplan to help visualize. The new space is in purple:

So as you can see, the purple Curves space is a loooong room, but with a lot of potential!  And a lot of PURPLE.  Purple walls, purple trim, purple rug. What's hard to see in the photos is that the ceilings are actually 10' tall - which is awesome!

After brainstorming, our potential game-plan into turning this into a functional dance studio was this:

1) Divide the space and create a waiting area - one of the biggest struggles of our existing space was the waiting room was very narrow and small.  It was impossible for anyone with a stroller to enter and would be crazy when one class was leaving and another arriving.  I wanted to make the new waiting room a little bit deeper to help fix this problem.

2) Adding connecting doorways - we needed to connect the two spaces together, by joining the waiting rooms and in another spot.  In the waiting room, I wanted an open doorway to make the rooms feel very open and encourage overflow from the narrow waiting room into the larger one.  

I also wanted to a door connecting the two studios, but <> apparently the wall between the two studios was filled with bricks?!  My contractor found this to be annoying and confusing (as did I).   The only other place that had just sheetrock separating the two spaces was all the way in the back through the furnace closet.  Not ideal, but as Tim Gunn says, we made it work.

I know you are anxious for beautiful before and after photos, which I PROMISE will happen, but in another post!

Friday, August 15, 2014

2014 Music Selections

Because I'm a huge music / stats nerd, I like to share my song choices from each year.  It's mostly for me to be able to look back and say "when did I use that song"? , but maybe someone will enjoy it too.

(Here's 2013's music list if you're curious... and 2012... and 2011)

Our first half of our recital had a theme which was "dance inspired by literature or literary themes", so you may notice that some of my songs are related to books.

Links open in iTunes, unless otherwise noted :)


"I'm Late" - white rabbit tap solo
Loved this one!

Can I get a show of hands for who used an "over popular" song this year and regretted it?  What was your favorite song to choreograph to this year?  Comment below.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Our "Frozen-Inspired" Dance Camp: Activities & Games

This post is part of our "Frozen-Inspired" Dance Camp Series.

Activities / Creative Movement

Melting & Freezing
We explored the movement qualities of melting and freezing by pretending to be Olaf melting in the summer or freezing with Elsa's help.  We melted for 16 slooooooow counts, and froze again for 16 then repeated in 8 counts, 4 counts, 2 and 1!  We melted with a friend, froze into different shapes or poses, started on one leg, etc.  Lots of variations to be had with this one!
More Melting Inspiration from Maria's Movers Blog

Journey to Elsa's Castle
We pretended to be Anna and Kristoff making their journey to or from Elsa's castle.  We did this by playing Going on a Bear Hunt, but we changed the words to "We're going on a journey, we're gonna go get Elsa, I'm not scared, I'm not scared".  For the next part ("we can't go over it, we can't go under it, I guess we'll go... through it!"), we encountered :
  • Deep deep snow - big slow marches to lift our feet through the snow
  • A dark forest - tip toes
  • A cold frozen stream - skating
  • A big tall mountain - climbing actions
  • An icy staircase - careful climbing actions
Until we got to the castle and knocked on the door and found... MARSHMALLOW (the snow monster)!  Reverse all the actions as fast at you can to go back to Arrendale and climb into bed with the covers over our head.

Creative Movement based on Scenes or Characters from the Movie
We did a lot of creative movement / free dance, based on settings and characters from the movie.  We would first describe the scene / character, then talk about the movements the characters did (running, rolling, climbing, skating, etc) and then dance them using those movements.  Some of our favorite scenes:

Olaf In Summer - skipping, laying (sun-tanning), swaying, blowing dandelions, floating

Skating on Elsa's pond - skating, twirling, sliding

Dancing like Marshmallow - "stompy", angry, slow

They also enjoyed pretending to be at the coronation ball, dancing like the trolls, pretending to be a snow-swirl created by Elsa, and of course, being Elsa.


In addition to the usual run of camp games (Freeze Dance, 4 corners, relay races, etc), we added a few or tailored them to better fit our theme:

Obstacle Course - We set up various obstacles around the room relating to the trip to Elsa's castle.  We used cones to tip toe around like trees, a tunnel to go under, a gym mat to roll across, a "tightrope" (tape line on the floor) to walk on, ice puddles to jump over (little rugs)

Pin the Nose on Olaf - we had an Olaf-shaped posterboard and had the girls take turns being blind-folded and pinning their "nose" onto Olaf.  Since we had a large crew, we split them between three different groups so we could have three people going at the same time.

Our life-size Anna & Elsa was a
big hit for photos!
Red Light, Green Light, Frozen Variation - Basic Red light/Greenlight rules - in our version instead of being a redlight/greenlight, the "It" person is Elsa - and freezes people when she turns around.  We used the terms "WINTER" for STOP and "SUMMER" for GO.  If anyone was caught moving when the "It" person said WINTER, they had to go back to the starting line.  First person to touch the "It" person gets to be "It" for the next round.

One other thing that we used during the week was this Life-size Anna & Elsa - we found this great life-size cardboard cutout from Amazon.  They have other characters, but I really liked the two girls together.  We used them for a backdrop in our pictures and the kids loved "holding their hand" and just seeing them in general.

What other games / activities can be adapted to fit a "Frozen" theme?  Are you sick of the music yet?  Will you use it in your classes next season? Comment below!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Our "Frozen-Inspired" Dance Camp: Crafts

"Do You Wanna Dye a T-Shirt?" (sung in the melody of "Do You Wanna Build a Snowman")

This is part of our "Frozen" (inspired) Dance Camp Series.

We spend about 30-40 minutes on crafts, but always have a back-up plan for those who lose interest fast (some of the 4 year olds are more interested in the process, than the final product) or who are very detailed (need to place every piece of grass just so).

Good ideas of back-up plans are coloring pages (link to free printable Frozen coloring pages) / activity sheets or clips from the movie, if you have a TV or screen.  I actually made a YouTube playlist of Frozen clips on our computer just in case, but we never had to use it.

Now... onto the crafts!

My Camp Director and I pulled a lot of the craft and activity ideas off of Pinterest, so I will try to credit our original inspiration when possible.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Our "Frozen-Inspired" Dance Camp

Our most asked camp question since last December has been "Are you doing a Frozen Camp?"  So due to popular demand... a Frozen (inspired) Camp is what we did!

Our studio offers two types of camp: 5-day "Dance Camp" for ages 6-10 and 4-day "Princess Camp" for ages 4-7. For both camps, the students come each day for three hours from 9am - noon and we dance and do arts and crafts. Each year we do a different theme and base the week's lessons around that theme. We hold an impromptu little "show" on the last day of camp for family and friends.

I would say our approach to camp is very relaxed - focus on dance, crafts without a lot of theatrics / costumes - it works for us and leaves us with a lot of happy campers.

We did the Frozen (inspired) Camp for our Princess age group (ages 4-7) at the end of June, and we actually had to close off registration a week prior because of the demand!  (For comparison, our July Princess Camp was half as full as the Frozen Camp was).

I'm going to break up the posts into a few different sections, and hopefully they will give you some ideas for your own camp.
1) Music (this post)
2) Crafts 
3) Games & Activities 

General Camp Agenda 

8:50-9:05am - Parent Drop-off and Student Sign-in
9:05-9:30am - Warm-up and "Get to know you" activities - I like doing the Name Game as an icebreaker
9:30-10:00am - Ballet Dance class (learning choreography / technique)
10:00-10:45am - Craft Time
10:45-11:00am - Snack Time
11:00-11:40am - Tap class (learning choreography / technique)
11:40-12:00pm - Games / Cool-down

Dance Camp Playlist

All links open in iTunes - the Dance Buzz is an iTunes affiliate
I know you will all be surprised when I tell you that the most used album during our Frozen-Inspired Camp was... the Frozen album. Shocking, I know! But we also used a few other non-Frozen songs during our camp so that we (the teachers) didn't go crazy from having songs stuck our head all day!

Songs We Used for Choreography
Let It Go - Idina Menzel - for a ballet / lyrical
Love Is an Open Door - Kristen Bell - for jazz
For the First Time in Forever - for lyrical / sing along
In Summer - Josh Gad - for tap
Fixer Upper - Frozen - for tap

Songs We Used in Class (for creative movement, games, and technique)
Winter's Waltz - Frozen good for across the floor in ballet
Ice Dance - Edward Scissorhands - creative movement and free-dance
Let It Go / Vivaldi's Winter - The Piano Guys - good one for dramatic dancing, freeze dance
Waltz of the Snowflakes - The Nutcracker
Love Is an Open Door (Instrumental Karaoke version) - good for pass the beanbag, or warm-ups

What non-Frozen songs can you think of that would fit in well?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summer Playlist Updates!

Hope you're all having a great summer!

Need some refreshments for your class playlists? Look no further - here are a few tunes to change up your playlist.  I'm teaching mostly tap this summer, so my playlist tends to lean in that direction, but most of these songs could easily crossover into jazz / children's hip hop / contemporary.


- Call It Whatever (Bella Thorne)
- Really Don't Care (Demi Lovato)
- Dar Um Jeito/We Will Find A Way (Avicii / Santana) - the theme to the World Cup, a really good upbeat song
- Can You Do This (Aloe Blacc) -  I've been using this as part of an improv combination - on the chorus we trade 8's in tap class
- Classic (MKTO)


- Love Runs Out (One Republic) - its been all over the radio stations, but I love using this in tap class for warm-ups
- Basically I (Robert DeLong) - good warm-up / across the floor song
- On Top Of The World (Imagine Dragons) - a happy little song that makes me smile
- Luck (American Authors)
- Sing (Ed Sheeran)
- Problem (Ariana Grande) - another Top 40 rounds out my summer playlist update

See music player below to hear clips:

The Dance Buzz is an iTunes affiliate.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

8 Instagram Post Ideas For Your Dance Studio

Is your dance studio or company on Instagram?  Scared to take the leap? (dance pun intended) Here's a few tips on how to get started and what to post.

Don't worry about posting daily - in fact, if you post too many times a day, you may annoy your followers.  It seems like the sweet spot is once a day to a few times a week.  For my studio, I end up posting on average 3-4 times a week unless I'm running a contest or it's a big event for the studio (recital or competition weekend, for example).

Ok, so now you've made an Instagram account... what do you post?

8 Instagram posts ideas for your dance studio or company

1. Your dancers:  The most obvious is to post images and videos of your students dancing!  Be sure to mix it up - some of the cute babies in class mixed in with your best students along with some great action shots from performances.

2. Behind the scenes:  Making costumes?  Folding programs?  Hanging the backdrop for the show?  My students and parents love to see the "behind the scenes" photos.


3. Class videos:  This is a great way to expose potential students to the different class types.  Post a short clip of your newest class offering to show students what that class might be like.

4. Hold a contest or photo challenge:  I like to hold contests during school breaks because it gives the kids something to do and keeps them thinking about dance.  Our most recent one was "Spring Break Photo Contest" and dancers had to post a photo of themselves dancing on Spring Break.  We got a lot of fun pictures back that we shared in-studio and on Facebook.  Make sure to use a hashtag for your contest (#ABCstudio).

  • Leap / Jump Contest - followers have to post their best leap or jump
  • Favorite Costume - post a photo of their favorite costume
  • First Year Dancing - any photos from their first year of dancing
  • Dance Everywhere - post a photo of them dancing in an unusual location

5. Dance education:  Post a photo of a famous dancer and have your followers guess who it is.  Share photos of famous ballets and dance companies.

6. Motivation & inspirational quotes:  I like to post these every so often.  I find a lot of them on Pinterest.  Instagram Etiquette Tip: If you borrow someone's quote, play nice and credit them.

7.  Hashtags:  (Or should I say #hashtags)  Hashtags are a fun way to make your post accessible to more people and are good for when you're looking for an idea to post something.  My favorite dance-related hashtags are:
  • #TutuTuesday - anything ballet!
  • #TiltTuesday - just what it sounds like
  • #TBT or #FBF - (Throwback Thursday & Flashback Friday) - post an older photo from months or years ago.  These posts usually get the most "likes" on our studio Instagram.
  • Make up your own! What about #musicmonday and post some songs from the upcoming performance?  Or #flexibilityfridays and showcase some tips on how to get more flexible.  Check out this great idea from Maria's Movers on creating a hashtag for your performances.  Some more hashtag ideas from Dance Spirit.

8. Integrate your posts with Facebook and Twitter:  Instagram makes it easy to connect your account to your Twitter and Facebook accounts and you can share the same posts on all three social media sites at one time.

Have fun!

Further Reading:

Follow The Dance Buzz on Instagram!

Do you use Instagram?  What tips can you share about posting photos and videos? What are your favorite photos to see?  What gets the most likes?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Light Dancing

Happy Wednesday!

If you're super crazy this time of year like I am, here is a short video to give you a break from the chaos and to just enjoy the dance and cool visual effects.

Talk about theater tech and dance coming together.  So cool!

Hope you enjoyed :)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Refreshing Covers of Pop Songs: Postmodern Jukebox

I regularly troll YouTube looking for covers of pop music, however when you search "cover + song title", you inevitably end up with 100 acoustic covers done by anyone with a piano, guitar and a voice. Generally nothing too exciting, usually a slower version of the pop song.

Side note - if you ARE looking for acoustic covers of pop songs done really well, check out Boyce Avenue, Madilyn Bailey, and Savannah Outen.

Anyway, when I stumbled onto Postmodern Jukebox, I knew I had struck gold.  Pop songs with a vintage twist, they are such a unique cover band.  Do you like Doo Wop?  Ragtime? Swing? Ever wonder what pop songs would sound like if they were sung in speak-easies?  Yeah, me neither, but now I can't stop listening.

Here are my three favorites (although it was very difficult to choose - check out their album, aptly named "Twist Is The New Twerk" on iTunes for more!):

We Can't Stop:

Their doo-wop cover of "Timber" is pretty amazing as well.

A little jazzy version of "Careless Whisper" with a little "Take 5" thrown in there for fun:

And this last one has to be my favorite, simply because it includes tap dancing (!!!):

Grab their album on iTunes and listen on repeat!

The Dance Buzz is an iTunes affiliate.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Camp Tuition Calculator

Holding a dance camp this summer and wondering what to charge?

Camp in a Can has a handy tuition calculator downloadable for free on their website (scroll to the bottom and click on the blue folder).

Updated:  The current version of the calculator is using 7 days for the week (most camps are 5 days...I sure as heck don't want to work 7!!), so make sure you change the formula under Step 3 "Total Hours Per Week" to be multiplying by 5 or however many days your camp is.  If you'd rather not change formulas, then just input how many hours your camp is running per week in the grey box under Step 3.

Monday, March 10, 2014

New Music Monday: Torn - Nathan Lanier

Another great instrumental track (see "Let It Go / Winter" mash-up from last month if you want another instrumental), here is "Torn" by Nathan Lanier.  It's very "epic soundtrack-y" - I'm using it this year for a modern class who requested a dance where half could be good and half could be evil.  It seems to be suiting them well.

I believe it was used on SYTYCD a few seasons back, but haven't seen it hit the competition circuit too hard yet, so I figured I'd share!

Grab it on iTunes:

The Dance Buzz is an iTunes affiliate.

Monday, February 24, 2014

NMM: The Piano Guys - Let It Go / Vivaldi's Winter

Happy Monday! Here is a beautiful classical music mash-up of from The Piano Guys, mixing Vivaldi's Winter and Disney's Frozen "Let It Go" to start your week off right:

 Download the track from iTunes

  The Dance Buzz is an iTunes affiliate.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Winter Olympics-Inspired Movement

While my studio is in the process of getting buried under a foot of snow, I figured I would spend my surprise free time planning some olympics-inspired creative movement for tomorrow's classes.

Pass The Torch - Traveling

You could pass an imaginary torch or a "real" prop (as simple as an orange scarf).  Have your dancers spread out around the room.  When the dancer has the "torch", them must dance the torch to the next person and then sit down to indicate they already had a turn.  The final dancer brings the torch to the designated "torch lighting station" (could be teacher, or spot in the room).

Pass The Torch - Stationary

Spread out in a line or a circle close enough to touch another person's out stretched hand.  Begin to pass the torch using different levels and different body parts until it reaches the end.  If you are using a prop, see how far the class can pass it without dropping.

The Slowest Bobsled Race Ever Won

Connect your dancers into teams of 2, 3 or 4 dancers and have them sit one in front of each other in a straddle (like a caterpiller).  Have them hold onto each other at the shoulders or hips so that they are connected.

The goal is to move as a unit over a certain distance (we used tape lines about 5-6 feet apart).  Give them time to practice--they will learn quickly they have to work as a team to move without becoming disconnected!

Line up your "bobsleds" and the first group to completely cross the finish wins.  Disqualify any team that separates.

Variations:  Try a whole-class bobsled!  Or backwards or sideways bobsled race!

Ice & Snow Improv

Adapt usual creative movement exercises to be set at the olympics.

Suggested Musical Tracks

Have you been watching the olympics?  Have you done any lessons based on the olympics?  Is anyone else ready for spring?!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Warm-up & Work Out Playlist

warm up work out playlist
I love starting class with cardio-inspired workouts to get the blood moving before we move into larger movements.

Here are some songs that my dancers love "working out" to! (links open in iTunes)

Pop Music

Indie Music

A Few Others

The Dance Buzz is an iTunes affiliate.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Happy New Year & My Favorite Smoothie

Happy New Year, people of the Internet!  Hope you all had a wonderful holiday.  Mine was filled with traveling and family and friends and a nice break from the studio.

A lot of us make resolutions this time of year that have to do with healthier living, eating better, and creating habits to lead to wellness.  I've been wanting to share my favorite smoothie with you all for a while and I thought this was the perfect time!

My first instinct in the morning is to grab some cereal or toast or something bread-y and this is a quick alternative that still tastes good and starts my mornings off with some fruit.  Hope you enjoy it!

Here's what you'll need:

Yogurt - I like plain, but you can use any flavor you'd like - the husband likes strawberry
Fruit - I like frozen raspberries and blueberries, husband likes a half of banana thrown in there
1/4 cup baby spinach, ripped up
Orange juice - to help everything blend and taste delicious
Ground cinnamon - this is my secret ingredient!

Ceramic squirrel cookie jar is optional.

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