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Is clean or challenging choreography more important?


Dance Teacher Talk : Clean vs Challenging Choreography on DanceKellyStyle.netYou’ve been there. The step is hard. A few of your dancers get it. And they get it right away. But sometimes, it feels like the back line isn’t quite big enough. So what side do you fall on — clean choreography or challenging choreography? Do you split the difference? Of course, it always depends on the class. Here’s what a few fellow dance teachers had to say when asked,

What’s more important, being clean or having challenging choreography?

Clean, clean, clean!
Miss Kathy 

This is a tough question! In the end I believe being clean is ultimately going to help your dancers score higher. However, the choreographing should be a challenge for your dancers when they first start their routine so they have something to push for. I’m never afraid to give them a challenge, but then edit things that don’t work out before heading to our first competition.
Eva M. 

I err on the side of challenging choreography although I try to hit that sweet spot in the middle! I want the students to have some new challenges but also to show what they are great at so they can have confident performances.
Elise H. 

I think what determines how difficult of choreography the dancers need is simply what level they currently are. Keeping them challenged always is essential, but reinforcing cleanliness and precision is equally as important. In terms of competition, I believe clean, less difficult choreography tends to score better than super difficult choreography that isn’t clean.
Mr. Brian 

How do you juggle clean vs. challenging choreography? When do you draw the line? Share your tips in the comments.

** Got a question? Get in touch. Know someone who should be featured on our panel? Nominate them. **

How to be an effective leader in the dance studio


As dance teachers, we’re called upon to be the ultimate leaders. Leading students, parents, other teachers and audiences. There are plenty articles written about the skills effective leaders possess. But how can you be an effective leader in the dance studio?

Learn to say, “no.” Then, actually say “no.”
It’s crucial to you and your students that you enforce the “no.” Your time in the studio is valuable. Protect it by setting limits and enforcing them with that all-powerful word. “No” also helps you mange the expectations of parents and employees. It’s only one little word, but it can also be an important tool against lazy dancing, tardiness, absences, missed payments (the list goes on…)

Delegate. Delegate. Delegate.
You don’t have to be the one rhinestone-ing costumes, typing up announcements, picking up the t-shirts, editing everyone else’s music and teaching all your classes. Learn to give parents, employees and office managers some of these tasks. Bonus, by delegating, you’re also teaching others to be leaders.

As a dancer, you know how to adapt — no lights? No problem. Music cuts out? No problem. Now, take that adaptability and apply it to your business. Whether that’s a studio you run or a handful of classes you teach around town. A teacher no-show? Combine classes. Customers paying late? Give them an incentive to pay early. Take a look at the situation and make it work.

Do you ever think your students aren’t listening to you? (Does a cat, meow?) Dance teachers know how to break steps down in a million ways until every student gets it. Do the same with your newsletter for parents, your emails to prospective customers and your employees. Clear communication creates a strong base of trust and an open dialogue between everyone will foster a sense of community in your dance world.

It all comes back to this — you make money when you’re teaching. So say “no”, delegate, adapt and communicate. But above all, get in that studio, teach and make the money.

Teachers Sound Off: The Homework Dancers Should Do

TeacherSoundOffDancers, you know at the end of class when your teacher puts one final step on your plate, another move, another eight counts of choreography? Yeah you know. And then, they tell you to “work on that.” And, of course, you totally practice all week, right?

Well, whether you realize it or not, your teachers can tell if you’ve been diligently mastering last week’s challenges. To see what they want you spending your time on, we asked them:

What’s the homework you wish your students would do?

Knowing their dance history. As educators, we work hard to expose them to different aspects of the art of dance and urge them to explore and learn about the wonderful artists and history that came before them.  However, it’s always nice when you have that one student who takes it upon themselves to do some extra homework.
Jake P.

Besides stretching, I wish they would practice their dances—I provide them with a CD of class music.
Miss Sharon 

Stretching; Lines are everything. You don’t have to be the most flexible kid in the world, but you do need to be able to create a clean line.
Eva M. 

Be in the know and expose yourself to as many styles as possible. I taught a master class recently and not a single dancer in the room knew who Cyd Charisse was! It’s not only important that we honor the dancers who came before us, but by watching them we can gain a lot of insight on where to place our bodies and how to create a style that works time and time again. Today’s dancers seem to dance alike. This wasn’t the case 60 years ago. Find a unique voice by exploring the history of dance and creating a movement quality that is a melting pot of the greats.
Chip A.

I strongly encourage every student to go home and review every correction that has been given, not only to that particular dancer, but corrections that have been given to all dancers.
Mr. Brian 

Practicing (of course)…but more specifically, reviewing corrections so that they are not lost the next time we are in the studio.
Elise H. 

Remembering where they stand in a dance from week to week.
Miss Kathy 

Alright class, looks like our teachers want us to remember our dances, stretch and bone up on our dance history. Sounds easy enough, don’t you think? Teachers, what else did we leave off this list? What homework do we still need to check off our lists?

** 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. **

Dance Kelly Style on: Featured Dancers


Getting up on stage stirs up a lot of emotion. Nerves. Excitement. Fear. Joy. Think of the little girl in her first dance recital. Wound up beyond all belief. So excited backstage. Then she gets on stage and panics. Freezes. Stands there and looks around for the first minute of her dance. Finally, she gets up the nerve to blow a kiss to mom and dad. The dance is out the window. But that little girl has something in common with even the most professional of all dancers. She left part of herself out there on the stage. Sure, she didn’t dance, but did she ever put on a show.

On DanceKellyStyle, the goal is to feature dancers from all backgrounds and genres. To create a community here. To get the word out about new performances. New opportunities. And maybe even new styles. If you have an upcoming project and you’d like to be featured, just get in touch.