Dance To EvOLvE Blog

Have you ever considered taking a dance class?

Posted by Brittany White on Mar 26, 2012 6:08:00 AM

I teach a lot of school dance programs where the class includes boys and girls who do and do not want to be there. Within the school programs, dance class is not optional..everyone must participate. Knowing that, I start every new program by saying, “Everyone likes to do different things. My favorite thing to do is dance and I know it may or may not be your favorite thing to do and that is okay. All I ask is that we all participate and try because I have a feeling we will have some fun if we just give it a go.” Well, I say something similar to that at least but I am sure in a much more eloquent and motivating way. My point is that I want the kids to become comfortable with me as a teacher and to not feel daunted by dance if they have never done it before or if it isn’t their thing. I really believe that dance is great for everyone and should be experienced by all in some form or another. This blog is really about how dance is good for the non-dancers, the individuals who may not be choosing to take a structured class, or those who have never considered taking a dance class.

One great thing about dance is the amount of styles out there to choose from. There is something out there for everyone! There are your traditional styles such as ballet, tap and jazz. Hip hop has taken dance classes by storm over the last decade and is a great option for kids and adults or anyone who is just looking for a fun recreational activity or great workout (cardio hip hop classes have become all the hype in gyms). Further, there are partner dance styles such as salsa, tango, swing, waltz... just to name a few. Salsa is probably the most popular and has a great social aspect as well as being a great workout. For any of these styles, you do not need a partner so don’t be intimidated or shy. Often there are open free classes (especially for salsa) held at clubs or hotels where the teacher rotates the men and women. You can also sign up for a class and they will probably have a similar structure. Another dance form that is a bit less formal is line dancing, which has various styles within it. The simplest form is how it sounds...the dancers dance in lines with the movements being easy to learn and follow. One of the latest crazes is Zumba, which is not technically a dance style but I think it appeals to so many people because it is a mixture of dance and fitness that includes various world rhythms. Zumba can be found at most local gyms.

No matter what dance style you decide to explore (and don’t be afraid to try more than one if your first attempt wasn’t a success), the important thing is to get out there and actually try it. Remember that it will take a couple of times to get the hang of it so stay with it for at least 4-5 classes before you decide if you like it or not. It also takes awhile to get the feel of the choreography and the music, which is definitely a learned skill. Any form of dance will increase confidence, coordination, agility, rhythm, grace, balance, flexibility, musicality, strength and cardio. So get out there and enjoy life...try dancing!

Brittany White, Dance To EvOLvE Director

Tags: Type of Dance Styles

What makes a good dance teacher?

Posted by Brittany, Dance To EvOLvE on Mar 16, 2012 2:54:00 PM

There is a real difference between being a dancer and a dance teacher. Too often, people think that because they are a good dancer, they will be a good teacher. That is not necessarily the case and is why I often see average teachers leading kids dance classes. It is important for a dance studio to choose their teachers based on a wide set of criteria and every studio will have different ideas about what that is. The teachers are what differentiate or ‘make’ a studio so it is important that you trust the studio to choose great ones. I believe that Dance To EvOLvE has some of the best teachers around but since they are all different and have different teaching methods, it is also important to find the right teacher for your dancer. If the fit isn’t right maybe try a different dance class. Some teachers are higher energy and louder and some have a much calmer quality to them. Neither of these types are bad but just different and can have different effects on your dancer.

dance class, kids dance classesObviously the criteria for a teacher will depend on the studio’s philosophy and age group that they are teaching but in general, here are some key qualities that I think are imperative to any dance teacher and I look for when hiring and mentoring our Dance To EvOLvE teachers.

  • Professionalism: Teachers need to be able to answer parents’ questions and communicate important information. They need to be reliable to be at class consistently and to be on time.
  • Good Mentors: Teachers are mentors to their students and need to set a great example with how they dress, the music and language that they use, and the positive encouragement they incorporate into their dance classes.
  • Knowledgable About Dance Development: Teachers need to know when students are ready to advance. It is crucial that they do not teach above the student’s age or level if their muscles and strength are not ready.
  • Truly Passionate: Teaching should not be just a second part time job for extra money but rather, a true delight to teach.
  • Good Class Management: One of the biggest qualities that I see missing in a lot of teachers is the ability to manage a class. Dancers need to stay engaged and focused in a way that makes class fun while keeping them safe. Class management is imperative to a successful, efficient and productive class. This is an acquired skill and should definitely be continually watched so the teacher can improve. dance classes, kids dance class
  • Good Preparation: A unique thing that Dance To EvOLvE teachers are required to do in order to maintain high quality classes is a lesson plan to ensure that teachers are not just ‘winging’ it week to week. All our teachers, for all ages and levels, also must complete teacher shadowing and a teacher development workshop once a year. Teachers can learn so much from each other and it is important to watch others to keep those creative juices flowing.

Overall, a dancer already has passion about the art of dance...a dance teacher guides others in a highly skilled way to grow the same passion that they have already found.

Brittany White, Dance To EvOLvE Director

Tags: Dance Classes Quality

Should my dancer take class twice per week?

Posted by Brittany White on Mar 7, 2012 8:58:00 AM

I want to put all parents at ease and say that I am going to answer this question as a teacher and not as a dance studio owner. Like anything, the more you practice a skill, the more you will learn and the faster you will improve. I think the better question is, “At what age should a dancer be taking twice per week.” Even more specifically, “how imperative is it for a dancer to be taking class twice per week?”

As with all my answers, it depends on the age of the dancer. For tiny tot dancers, once a week is most common and fine for such a young age. If you find that your tiny tot dancer LOVES going to dance class, then yes, get him or her in class twice a week for twice the fun. If you are going to take twice per week, I would recommend taking with two different teachers. All teachers have different teaching styles and will focus on different things allowing your dancer to benefit from both teachers. This will also keep them from becoming bored in class since the teachers will most likely be teaching different moves, use different imagery and play different games. Most tiny tot dance classes are combination classes to keep the little dancer’s interest for the entire class, but if the dance class is a single style, you may want to consider doing your second class in a different style. For example, one class in ballet and once class in tap. Although taking twice per week is great for any young dancer, it is not imperative at this age and will not hold them back if they ever decide to become serious about studying dance.

Dancers who are taking a full hour of one style and are 6 to 8 years old can start seeing big improvements by taking dance class twice per week. Again, it is not imperative but if a dancer has a natural tendency towards dance and loves it, then this is the age that twice a week will really help the dancer start improving strength, muscle memory, and build a strong foundation of technique. If the child is taking more than one dance style, you may only want to double up on one dance style for now so that the child does not become overloaded.

Every studio calls their levels something different but for example, what I call Ballet 2 for ages 9-11, is when it’s really important for a dancer to take twice a week if they are doing dance for more than a recreational activity. This would go for any style that they are concentrating on. Most dancers start spending a lot more time at the dance studio at this age. As the dancer becomes older, the volume of classes should depend on their dedication and interest level and not based on a studio’s policies or pressure. Be sure to find the studio that has policies that fit with your child’s interest, age and level and that suits your financial abilities. Most studios will offer packages of some sort for the students who are taking multiple classes per week. As always, do your research and take some trial classes at various dance studios to find the right fit for your dancer. The ultimate goal is to always develop a love and appreciation of dance so that they will want to continue to dance in the long term.

Brittany White, Dance To EvOLvE Director

Tags: Dance Classes, Dance Class Preparation