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Dance Across the Web this Week

Did you guys see this history of hip hop dance yet? (above) Jimmy Fallon has been pulling out all the stops this week for his new show and I’m loving this new video with Will Smith.

Also worth checking out are these two pieces on dancers and injuries. The first, a listing of common dance injuries. The second, a new study scientists are conducting where they map a dancer’s body as she moves to pinpoint injury hotspots. Turns out this is much more effective than an MRI because the body is in motion at the time of the scan.

And finally, a nice piece from Dance Advantage on why dance education is great for children’s brains.

How to Choose Music : The Time Step Test

TimestepTestIt’s the early 90s. A warm day in Pittsburgh, PA. My mom, grandfather and I are on the back steps of his home. He smokes as I expend some extra energy running up and down the stairs alongside the house. It’s the day I first learned how to do time steps. My grandfather and mother—both dance teachers—were teaching me. “Pop-pop” took the tough love route and my mom let me get a taste of how she learned growing up.

And you know what, I haven’t stopped doing time steps since that day.

Nowadays, I know that there’s all kinds of time steps, but when trying to choose music for tap for intermediate levels and above, I’ll use a double-double or a triple-double to test new music. Based on the speed of the time steps I know whether that song might work for my tap group. Easy as that. And just because I use the time step test doesn’t meant those time steps are going in the final choreography. It’s just a baseline I use when finding just the right music.


Anything is Possible This Weekend

FifthPositionmake it yours: print | hoodie | tote | phone

And some dance links from around the web to get your weekend started:
– We’ll all miss Shirley Temple and remember her legacy.
– How dance benefits the circulatory system.
– With all the talk of dance at the Olympics, here’s a good read on why ballet is an art, not a sport.
– As a writer & a dancer, I love this e-course that combines the two to make you a better dancer. 

Teachers Sound Off: When it’s just not Clicking

We’ve all been there. In the studio, at convention, or in our living rooms. Where you just feel like you cannot make your body perform the step that is in your brain. And if we as teachers have been there, then we know our students share the same frustrations. So this week we asked our panel how they deal with “stuck students.”

What do you do when your students aren’t “getting it?”
When it’s just not clicking?

I will sometimes take a video of them so I can show them where the problem is. If it still isn’t clicking after weeks of attempts I will make the necessary changes to choreography and put whatever it was on the list for next time.
Elise H. 

Move on for now or move those students to back to pose for that piece of the choreography.
Miss Kathy 

I try to remember that ultimately it falls on me as their teacher to help guide them to “getting it”. Every student is different and each of their journeys is unique, so it’s important to keep that in mind when faced with the frustration of them not getting something. I am always reminded of something one of my teachers/mentors told me when I started teaching: “The best teachers are the ones who find the same thing to say a million different ways.”
Jake P. 

Try a different approach or explanation. Or slow it down.
Miss Sharon 

I sometimes teach entire hours with no music. We’ll slow down and try different things like really focusing into the mirror on what we’re doing, using partners to critique one another, or I often pull out a student who is “getting it” to show off for the class. It’s like magic, all of the sudden a lot of kids will step up to make sure they’re even with their classmate.
Eva M. 

This usually means some sort of communication error or boundary on my behalf. I rework the approach in as many ways possible. Some people are visual learners, some need counts, some need rhythm, and some need the physics behind the step. Finding a way to break down a step from a different angle will almost always work.
Chip A.

I believe in order to be a successful teacher, you must have at least 3 different approaches to teaching something. I have to constantly remind myself that each dancer is different, and paying attention to how each dancer learns the best is key.
Mr. Brian 

Surprised? Not surprised? Do you have a different pet peeve? Time for you to sound off, in the comments!

** Each week our panel of teachers will answer a different question. Got a question? Get in touch. Know someone who should be featured on our panel? Nominate them. **


Judge’s Table with Lesley

Name:Lesley Mealor

Time Judging: Three Years

Competitions: Headliners, Elite Dance Cup, NYLA Dance Competitions and Conventions

What’s the best/most memorable number you’ve seen at competition? A hip hop routine to Rhianna’s “Raining Men”. The style was perfect, the dancers hit it so hard, and I still think about it a year later! They were really engaging and you could tell they were having a blast.

What’s your biggest performance pet peeve? When a dancer messes up, or is unhappy with their execution of a step, and they show their feelings on their face. No matter what happens, your “performance face” must be on!

What are you looking for when judging? Potential. Oftentimes, the best dancer is not my favorite dancer. I look for dancers with the potential to be better. The dancer who has a sparkle in their eye. Dance competitions are about challenging yourself to be a better dancer.

Any advice for dancers? NEVER stop taking ballet. You will thank yourself when you’re older. Take each opportunity to compete as an opportunity to challenge yourself to go further than you did last time. It’s not about the trophy. I truly believe that.

Any advice for teachers/choreographers? Please please please put your dancers in tights. Please make them take ballet. Please encourage community within your studio. Generous dancers are the ones who will be the most successful, not only in the industry, but in their personal lives.

Thanks, Lesley, for giving us an insight to the judge’s table!

Do you have a question for the judges? Do you want to sound off about your judging experience? Let us know.

Teachers Sound Off: Biggest Pet Peeve


One of the first things you remember about dance is your teacher. Maybe even better than some of your grade school teachers. Because you didn’t just see them for a year. You saw them over the course of many years. Dance teachers watch their students grow up. For years and years and years.

So, it only seems fitting that a teacher column be a prominent feature here on Dance Kelly Style. Each week, our panel will answer a new question. Some answers will be more directed to students, others to fellow teachers. Some to parents. No matter where you fall in that spectrum, it’s a place to learn (& chime in too, of course.) This week, we asked our teacher panel,

What’s your biggest dance pet peeve in the studio?

In regards to behavior, my biggest pet peeve is when students improperly correct the teacher (while going over choreography) while having that “roll your eyes” attitude. In regards to technique, my biggest pet peeve is when a dancer doesn’t lengthen his or her entire body and has less than 100% energy.
Mr. Brian 

Landing heel first instead of toe, ball, heel. It kills me. The fix just takes a little concentration!
Elise H. 

Lack of commitment.
Miss Kathy 

Negativity…it can quickly halt progress and improvement. One’s mindset and outlook determines the outcome.
Jake P. 

Students that don’t come to class regularly.
Miss Sharon 

Marking! Even when you’re tired, why waste your energy doing something halfway. You might as well make the most of your time in the studio each day.
Eva M. 

MARKING! I feel a dancer should never mark unless a room is packed and there is not adequate space to dance full out. Taking full advantage of what the movement really feels like will only help. I always say if you dance at 50% you are wasting 50%! Use your body and start dancing full out starting with the warmup. Class is about risk! Use that risk and learn from it!
Chip A.

Surprised? Not surprised? Do you have a different pet peeve? Time for you to sound off, in the comments!

** Each week our panel of teachers will answer a different question. Got a question? Get in touch. Know someone who should be featured on our panel? Nominate them. **

Now Tapping to: American, Idle by Pigeon John

MusicForTapI’m not sure when it started. In fact, I’m not sure when I started noticing it. Featured artists. They’re everywhere. It seems like almost every song I hear on the radio has a list of artists a mile long. will.i.am featuring Britney with a special appearance by Fergie plus sampling from Michael Jackson. Am I right?

But sometimes, those featured artists are where the dance gems truly lie. “American, Idle” by Heath McNease & Pigeon John was one of those songs for me. I fell down a hole on iTunes so deep by clicking related artists, sampling their tracks and checking out featured musicians on those albums.

This track is perfect for an advanced tap level when you’re looking for something a little outside the traditional tap box. I used it for college-aged students and it was hit. Take a listen on your favorite.

Spotify | iTunes | MySpace | Amazon | Google Play

It’s the Day of the Show, Y’all

AroundHere_Dance“It’s the day of the show, y’all.” That’s what we say on opening day, right? Well. Today is the big debut of DanceKellyStyle.net. I’m so glad you’ve found your way here, no matter what corner of the Internet you chasséd in from.

So what is DanceKellyStyle.net? Let’s break it down. DanceKellyStyle is all about dance (duh.) And (Kelly) is the one behind it. And style is everything else: Like music. And teachers. And products. And performers. And dancing all around us. (and there’s more to come, I promise.)

And if there’s anything you think is missing, just get in touch. Tell your friends. Tell your teacher. Tell your students. We’re ramping up for a big first year and I hope you’ll stick around to see what happens next.

Dance Kelly Style on: Goods & Gear

BigRightStyleOne of the greatest things about being a “dance kid” was all the dress-up that came along with it. If you were lucky enough not to grow too much between recital and October… BOOM, instant Halloween costume.

It’s no different now that we’ve really hit a growth spurt. It’s still a blast to get new shoes and break them in. To get the perfect new top. Or to get something fun that’s slightly related to dance, like a book or some art. Goods & Gear hopes to take all of those things and focus on what they are, where you can get them and what the takeaway is. Because, as Fred says, it’s all about doing it with style.