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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. **

Teachers Sound Off: Dealing with Excessive Absences

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We all get sick. We all miss a day here or there. But what does our teacher panel say about those students missing rehearsal after rehearsal. This week, we wanted to know,

How do you deal with excessive absences when prepping for a performance?

My rule is, if they’re not there, they’re not in the choreography they miss.
Miss Kathy 

If it’s due to an injury, obviously we want to be as smart and cautious as possible so they can get back. However if it’s just not being present for rehearsals before a show that’s a different situation. I think the key is having a clear attendance policy and sticking to it. None of my students can participate in the performance if they haven’t been to the dress/tech rehearsals. If it’s a dance company situation with excessive absences, that student may either be pulled from that number or excused entirely. We try to always drive home to our students that you are part of a team and one person missing affects the entire group. It’s no different than missing practice and expecting to play in the game. The place for it to be all about you is in a solo, not when you’re in a group.
Jake P. 

They could be removed from the number.
Miss Sharon 

It depends on the student. I try my best to stay flexible with my recreational dancers. Honestly you have to in order to keep a full studio. The competitive students are different though, they know that their attendance will directly affect their placements for next year.
Eva M. 

So cut and dry. If you aren’t in class or rehearsal I cut you from the number  There is a commitment that you have made to your team and to me. If I am only in town setting a piece for three days, I expect the dancers to be there. In my professional life I would be fired for excessive absences. If you aren’t there, I choreograph you out of that section. It doesn’t help me to save a spot for someone who doesn’t care enough to show up. I would rather reward another dancer for showing up and working hard. I couldn’t care less if they were more or less talented than the absent dancer and it is teaching them a lesson about this industry. You get hired by being present, putting in good work, and being first in the heads of any given casting director or choreographer.
Chip A.

I have a very strict policy for absences. I primarily work with the more serious company kids, so attendance is so important. Of course there are always extenuating circumstances, but I reiterate constantly that a dancer’s absence only hurts the dancer’s ability to advance and holds back the group.
Mr. Brian
 

It depends on if it is a recreational or a competitive class. Company members are only allowed so many absences until they are taken out of the dance. I stress the importance of attendance with recreational students, but if they don’t know the dance as well as the other kids it’s on them. I don’t expect recreational dances to be perfect, rather to show what the students have been learning over the year.
Elise H. 

Teachers, share how you deal with excessive absences. Dancers, do you think the teachers are fair?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. **

Teachers Sound Off: When it’s just not Clicking

TeacherSoundOff
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. **

 

Teachers Sound Off: Biggest Pet Peeve

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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. **

Dance Kelly Style on: Teacher Sound Offs

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When you think back to some of your earliest memories, you usually recall certain associations. You remember your cousin being there when you learned to ride a bike. You remember the exact bench you were sitting on when you got some big news. And when those memories from school come flooding back, there’s usually a teacher right there… “I was in Mrs. Gola’s class.” “It was inside Mrs. Vann’s room.” “Miss Kit was teaching us to be fabulous.”

Teachers make up a big part of our formative years. School teachers and dance teachers. So, it goes without saying that teachers are going to make up a big part of this site. The “Teacher’s Sound Off” series is a handful of teachers answering questions for students, parents and other teachers. Students, it’s an insight into what your teacher might be thinking on the way home from dance tonight. Parents, it’s a look at how other dance teachers see the studio. And teachers, it’s proof you’re not alone in this crazy life. We’ve got new teachers and experienced teachers. Studio owners and master-level teachers.

If you’ve got a question for the teachers, get in touch. And if you’re a teacher interested in sounding off, get in touch too.